Review: Lego City Undercover

An ex-police officer has returned to his hometown, his former flame is in witness protection and an old foe has escaped prison. It has all the makings of a gritty cop drama, but is built out of colourful plastic pieces.

LEGO City Undercover builds on the heritage established by TT Fusion’s previous titles, but for the first time isn't focused on a popular franchise, instead building a world around the LEGO City sets popular with children (and adults).

While previous titles relied on the franchise to help sell the game and concept, their financial and critical success has allowed TT to take what they have learnt and apply it to a brand new title. The end result is one that takes the good and the bad, but doesn't lose any charm or enjoyability from the lack of a licence.

Taking place in San Francisco LEGO City, you play as wisecracking former cop Chase McCain. The city and characters are full of character and charm. While the city is largely modeled on San Francisco, it still has layers of depth that are enjoyable to explore between missions.

Chase and the other characters you come across, from the simple but loyal policeman to the Morgan Freeman-inspired prison inmate that hides mobile phones in croissants, and all the lively block-built citizens you meet in between, feel as if they have been considered carefully and developed rather than plonked into the scenery.  Their humorous personality will stick with you long after you finish playing.

LEGO City UndercoverThe storyline isn't going to thrill most people, nor will it win points for originality, but it is sure to entertain. It takes a little while to get going, and at the start on the game you feel like you're merely there to trigger cut scenes, but once it's underway things become a lot better. It's main purpose is to provide a backdrop for the characters and jokes, and it certainly succeeds. The humour in LEGO City Undercover is daft but enjoyable, with slapstick humour and film parodies fitting in well alongside the physical comedy derived from a world made of LEGO.  Nods to films such as The Shawshank Redemption and The Matrix prove that, in spite of its glossy and colourful exterior, LEGO City Undercover can appeal to adults to.  The random quips that are uttered by LEGO City's inhabitants as you drift through the streets also provide an unexpected source of comedy, with some really amusing one-liners providing a brilliant 'soundtrack'. 

While playing LEGO City Undercover, my housemates all commented that it is like a child-friendly GTA. In many ways it is a sandbox game in the same vein as the infamous series, and once you are allowed to explore the city freely you will be able to take pleasure in finding all the little nooks and crannies that are hidden away. Of course, doing missions helps guide you around the city and open up new transport options, but if you want you could just wander around smashing up things for pleasure.

As with previous LEGO titles, there is a mixture of platforming and action in LEGO City Undercover and much like its predecessors, it does both adequately but there are a few problems.  The camera, while controllable, can be problematic and at times you feel lost in a big world, just trying to get from one place to another.  

LEGO City UndercoverControlling Chase McCain is easy thanks to the GamePad and TT Fusion has made good use of the controller’s abilities.  The screen provides a map for you to use, with various devices attached to it (such as an item to scan for collectables).  Being able to touch a spot on the map, and then be guided by green dots on the road, is a particularly nice feature that we hope we’ll see more of in other titles.

Of course, as the game makes use of both the television and GamePad screen simultaneously, off-TV play is not possible.  While some people probably would have liked for it to be, the gameplay would have been impeded.  

There are, however, a few problems with the game’s overall polish that let it down.  While the title is colouful and crisp, when the camera cuts to a close-up during cutscenes (which happens fairly frequently) you can’t help but notice jaggedy shadows and textures.  I am not one normally to nitpick, but it is unavoidable as it quite frankly hits you in the face.  Yes, it won’t ruin the game but it’s a shame that it is so distracting.  Likewise, there are minor cases where the title suffers from screen-tearing, but it’s not as problematic as some would have you to believe.

The biggest issue I personally found was the load time.  You can expect load times of anywhere between 30 seconds and a minute, perhaps even just beyond.  Thankfully these are fairly rare, but it does slow down the pace of the game.  Strangely, for a title aimed at children there is nothing to keep them entertained during this break, just a progress bar slowly filling up.

LEGO City UndercoverCollecting fans will be pleased to hear there are plenty of collectables to be found across LEGO City.  Studs can be collected to unlock new characters while bricks, or Golden Bricks, can be used to build new buildings and modes of transportation.  Collecting them for enjoyment is fine, but when you need a certain amount to progress in the story it becomes to feel like a chore.  In addition to this, Chase McCain can collect new costumes, each giving him different abilities to use either within the story or for fun.

Many people had high hopes for LEGO City Undercover.  When it was unveiled last E3, many hoped for a star title in Wii U’s early lineup.  It is enjoyable and a comic delight, but it is not the AAA title some people had hoped for.  TT games took somewhat of a risk building a LEGO title that was not based on a franchise, but they have learnt from their previous titles and made a solid game with a real charm.

Younger gamers will love the fun on offer, and adult gamers will find the references to contemporary films amusing.  Issues of load times and textures are a minor inconvenience in an otherwise enjoyable game.  With the Wii U release schedule seemingly scarce, LEGO City Undercover stands out as a fun game to be enjoyed until the bigger releases that are bound to come our way after E3.


N-Europe Final Verdict

LEGO City Undercover is silly and fun and that's exactly what you need from a game like this. There are minor issues, but regardless of these it is a very enjoyable game.

  • Gameplay4
  • Playability4
  • Visuals3
  • Audio5
  • Lifespan4
Final Score



A humorous treat for all ages
Good mixture of missions and free-roaming
Using the GamePad feels natural


Long load times
Minor graphical issues

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