BADGP Reviews: LEGO City Undercover

LEGO City Undercover (TT Games, Nintendo)

Review: Brick by Excellent Brick

Derek Buzan & Alex Linna

April 30, 2013


Remember the days of old where you would sit down and build LEGO creations for hours and maybe pretend those things came to life, or maybe this is still you presently.  Well, no more will you ask yourself what would happen if your Lego City came to life, for you get to experience that dream in this new amazing game Lego City, exclusively for the Wii U. Build, collect, and laugh as you chase the infamous Rex Fury around the city as the famous Chase McCain. So turn on that Wii Us, for this is a game of LEGO building blocks that you won’t want to let go. (Derek)

Presentation (Alex)

The load times are too long. Okay, I’m done complaining about LEGO City Undercover.  This might be the funniest video game I have ever experienced.  This is largely due to the top-notch writing paired with excellent voice work.  A vast majority of the jokes land and I found myself literally laughing out loud.  There are moments where the game gets a little more serious than usual and then this is said, “Some things are more important than work… video games, right?”  I had to take several pages of notes for writing down all of the good lines.  The characters speaking these mostly funny and sometimes cheesy lines are strong and somewhat developed, Frank Honey being my personal favorite.  A dimwit and quite childish, Officer Honey always offers comic relief in a game already crammed with humor.  The game also oozes charm.  It is hard not to be somewhat taken in by LEGO City Undercover.  The game’s charm is also aided by an exceptional and diverse soundtrack.  Ranging from sweet 70’s cop aesthetics to full orchestral tracks, LEGO City consistent impresses in the sound department.

(Derek’s Response/Additions)

I couldn’t agree with Alex more. The game kept me smiling and chuckling with every joke. The best part is that these jokes did not feel forced at all, most of my favorite lines were when I was playing through a level and NPCs would just say something out of the blue. There are also a lot of references within the game from pop culture that everyone should know. One of my favorites was the construction manager, who seemed very fond of his Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonation.

Gameplay (Alex)

LEGO City Undercover at its core is a Grand Theft Auto clone, therefore the gameplay boils down to what one would expect from a GTA clone.  The game is mission based, but is jam-packed with side content waiting to be explored.  LEGO City’s core gameplay strengths lie in adventure and exploration, not action.  The action sections get quite formulaic by the end of the game, making the missions a little bland, but exploring the world LEGO City provides is nothing short of joyous.  Collecting “Super Bricks” to build the game’s “Super Builds” became an obsession of mine.  The “Super Builds” are useful in gameplay; they can be vehicle drop-off points, helipads, or even houses.  The vehicles handle quite well and are fun to drive around in to explore the massive game world.  The WiiU gamepad offers a nice alternative to having a cumbersome HUD by having the map on the gamepad.  This makes setting waypoints much more convenient than other large, open world games.  The combat is poor.  It is too easy, but then again, this game skews to a younger audience.  Chase has up to 8 different “jobs” much like previous LEGO titles.  He then must use them to solve largely mind-numbingly easy puzzles and dispatch many enemies with ease.  The missions, though lacking in the gameplay department, offer some seriously interesting and comical scenarios that make the game a must-play.

(Derek’s Response/Additions)

The Wii U game pad becomes a huge part of this game, as it is Chase’s camera, recorder, and print finder. The game pad also functions as a phone where Chase can call his friends and talk through the gamepad separate than though the TV. Have no fear though, for this is not your typical gimmick. Everything was well designed so you use the gamepad in the game, and you won’t get the feeling of, “gosh, I have done this a zillion times already”. Just in key moments will you use this bad boy.

Comparisons (Derek)

LEGO City is a living breathing city like GTA, but more tuned towards kids. The game play is like other LEGO games. Find out the formula and just do that multiple times through a group of gang members and you will beat it. The Car controls are like other kiddy racers, they are super touchy and are not realistic at all. Move the analog stick right and you will find yourself plastered on the wall, but if you tap it you will quickly turn where you want to go. The cars trying to stop you on the other hand are super accurate and aggressive. Good luck trying to learn to drive while you are getting T-Boned from other cars.

(Alex’s Response/Additions)

Having little experience with the LEGO game series (only the first LEGO Star Wars), I have little to compare the game to.  The game is a hybrid of GTA and the collect-a-thon that is LEGO Star Wars.  The open world felt like a place I wanted to explore.  It is filled to the brim with things to do and even got me to do the driving side-quests (and I largely hate driving in any game!).  So, I had to ask why this particular was more engaging to me than say the last several giant open worlds I have experienced.  The constant stream of humor and inner-collector within was not satisfied until the game’s conclusion.  I had to see what crazy, likely hilarious, thing the characters were going to say next and I had to build all the super-builds!

Conclusion & Recommendation (Alex)

LEGO City Undercover is the oasis in the desert that is the WiiU game lineup.  Being the first notable release since launch placed a lot of pressure and expectation on the title, and it largely lives up to those expectations and exceeds them in many ways.  By providing a huge game world to explore, excellent writing and suitably well delivered lines, a diverse soundtrack, and serviceable combat make LEGO City Undercover a no-brainer for WiiU owners.


Alex: 8.7                               Derek:7.8                            BAD: 8.3

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