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Lego City Undercover Review

July 13th, 2017 by

Lego City 001“Lego.  It’s for kids isn’t it?”,  say most adults.  Until that is you have children.  Then one day they come up to you and say, “Daddy, will you play Lego with me?”.  You sigh and agree.  Two hours later, long after your little munchkin has got bored and gone to what CBeebies, Mister Tumble inanely chatting in the background, you are still there building a spaceship.  All the time muttering psychotically to yourself that you can’t find that bloody Four-Bit in the right colour.

The same could be same for the computer games. Back in March 2013, the first non-licenced open world Lego title was launched to an exclusive on the much maligned and misunderstood console, the Nintendo Wii U.  Now, four years later  it’s come to PS4, Xbox and PC.  Prior to this, the Lego games tended to be fairly linear affairs which varied massively in quality.  Undercover followed the open world template set by Lego Batman and with subsequent licenced titles such as Marvel Superheroes.  Four years on from its original realise, does it still stand up? Is it just for kids?

Well it plays a bit like Grand Theft Auto, but without prostitutes, murder and swearing.  To be fair this would be wholly unsuitable for it younger target audience.  This coming from a guy that lets his nine year old son play Destiny and Titanfall because violence is completely fine, but saying the F Word is a no no.  The pace is also slower where cars are not very fast, like a Lego Driving Miss Daisy and it is impossible to mow down those little yellow people who appear to all be suffering from a mass outbreak of Hepatitis B.

Lego City 003

Lampooning films and TV shows in its script, it is often amusing.  In fact, Undercover is probably the most witty and chuckle inducing of all the Lego games.  The main story (adopts gruff 80′s movie trailer voice) revolves around your hero Chase McCain attempting to take down the big bad guy, Rex Fury.  Like Superheroes there are the main missions, side quests and collectables so there is plenty on offer.  The design of the city positively encourages discovery.  From time to time I became obsessed in hoovering up all the small bricks in an area, like a cocaine addicted city trader. In addition, you have to find bigger “super bricks” that can be used to build mission specific objects.  I sometimes found these a pain to find as it would often stop the mission dead until I had found all these magic bricks in the area.  I also found the incentives to unlock more characters much less appealing as the licenced titles.  There you were getting a new costume and abilities for Iron Man, in this you were unlocking a security guard that seemed to have no bearing on a subsequent missions.  Like other titles, you do unlock different characters abilities along the way such as a burglar who can open certain doors or a builder who can, or course, break things.

In fact there is so much abject destruction in the game.  You are encouraged to break everything which was a concern for a game aimed at children.   I found this disgusting.  No wonder vandalism is riff in our city centres.  Combat is a simplified affair and easy to get to grips with.  Perhaps over simplified for those who have played the Batman Asylum games, but perfect for the younger players.

The Wii U version featured the use of the second screen but this was rarely used so not missed.  Two player co op has now been added for the Xbox (version tested), PS4 and Switch.  In fairness they just tag along and there is no specific missions for the two to play together.  Loading times are also still too long. For a re-release I would have expected the latter to be fixed by now.  But these are minor niggles.  Frame rates are now at least smooth and constant, which could not have been said for the original release.

Lego City 002

So the humour is what won it over for me being very much in the style of Naked Gun in terms of both its script and silly site gags.  For a game that could be argued that is aimed at kids, there are plenty of film references from Shawshank Redemption, The Shining to the Matrix that will appeal to adults.  The shear lack of any open world titles that are below the age range of 15 still boggles the mind making Underground an essential purchase.

The omission of any prostitutes was a shame but a great game none the less.

Midlife Gamer Rating: 8/10     Format:  PlayStation 4 / Xbox One / PC      Release Date: 18th March 2017

Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided with a review copy of  Lego City Undercover for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of  two weeks. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.

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