LEGO City: Undercover (PS4, Switch, Wii U, Xbox One, PC)

You’re Chase McCain, a cop in LEGO City trying to stop notorious crime boss Rex Fury.  When Rex threatens Chase’s lady friend Nalalia, it’s up to him to go undercover and don disguises to thwart the criminal’s plans. LEGO City: Undercover isn’t based on any movie license, but does feature vehicles and playsets from the LEGO City toy line, as well as parodies of other cop movies and TV shows.  Originally the game was only available exclusively on Wii U.  But now that the Wii U has kind of run its course, you can now get the game on nearly all current game consoles and PCs, but it’s reviewed on PS4 here.

At heart, LEGO City: Undercover is a lot like other LEGO games.  Sock enemies, bash blocks and build new LEGO structures, drive vehicles, use teamwork, and solve puzzles. Collect LEGO studs to buy new characters and vehicles, and find hidden red and gold LEGO bricks to unlock cheats and other goodies.  There are typical LEGO levels in this game, but a lot of what you’ll be doing is exploring the massive LEGO City.  Other LEGO games have had big cities for hub worlds, but this one seems more fun to explore, as there are lots of hidden secrets and fun things to discover.  As with other LEGO games, a second player can hop in and out at any time for some co-op fun.

As you play, you’ll unlock disguises for Chase that give him special abilities.  The robber suit lets him break open doors and crack safes.  The miner outfit lets him break LEGO boulders with a pickaxe and blow up certain structures with dynamite.  Fireman Chase can put out flames with a water hose and Farmer Chase can grow plants and use a chicken to glide down.  There are many other costumes to unlock, and you can switch between them at any time to solve puzzles and bypass obstacles.

One new aspect this game introduces are Super Builds.  Normally when you break apart LEGO structures in these games, you get LEGO studs.  But in this one, you’ll get special bricks.  Larger versions of these special bricks are hidden all over the city as well, and give you much more of these special bricks in your inventory.  Scattered about the city are flat pieces that you can build things on using those special bricks you’ve found.   Usually what you’ll build are pads that you can call upon any car you’ve unlocked to drive, but sometimes you’ll build other structures as well.  That brings us to one of the game’s small problems.  Sometimes you must complete a Super Build to move the story along, and it can kind of bog the game down a bit while you go find those special bricks so you have enough.

But really, the only other problems I had with the game are that some of the driving missions aren’t much fun, and like other LEGO games, it’s a bit buggy.  Luckily the game only froze up on me twice, and since the game autosaves very often, I wasn’t set back very far when that happened.  But other than that, this is probably one of the better LEGO games I’ve ever played, and I’m kind of sad that I didn’t play it sooner on the Wii U.  I liked the game so much that I’m thinking about getting the LEGO City 3DS game, which is kind of a prequel to this one.

Kid Factor:

LEGO City: Undercover is rated E-10 with ESRB descriptors of Cartoon Violence and Crude Humor. While you do fight enemies, they just fade away when defeated, and nobody ever dies.  And the game doesn’t penalize you very much when you lose all your energy or fall into a pit.  Although you do have to start the driving missions over if you fail them, so younger players might need help with those if they become too frustrating.  The crude humor just comes from some light fart noises and toilet jokes.  I think a lot of the cop movie parody references would go over most kids’ heads, like when the game makes fun of things like Columbo, The Shawshank Redemption, Goodfellas, Scarface, and Starsky & Hutch.

Really the best way to describe this game is that it’s a family friendly Grand Theft Auto.  I always thought it would be a good idea to have a GTA game where you’re a police officer and do good things instead of bad, and that’s exactly what this game does.  Even when you’re going undercover and doing things for criminal gangs in the game, they make it perfectly clear that the only reason why you’re doing these things is because the police gave you permission to do so.  So this game would be a good alternative for a kid who wants to play a GTA game.  Heck, even adults (like me) who want to play a GTA style game but don’t want to have to deal with the cursing and adult themes would definitely enjoy this more lighthearted fare.

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