LEGO City Undercover PS4 Review

Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment  Developer: TT Fusion  Genre: Action  

Players: 1-2  Age Rating: 7+  Other console/handheld formats: Xbox One, Switch, Wii U

LEGO City Undercover was first released on the Wii U back in 2013, but with its recent release on the PS4, Xbox One, and Switch, there’s potential for the game to get the attention of a much bigger audience, and deservedly so. This is a game that will appeal to kids and adults alike, the former because, well, they are kids and they tend to like LEGO and things like that, and the latter bunch because it will make them feel like kids again.

When LEGO City Undercover was first released on Nintendo’s previous console it was notable for being a LEGO game that didn’t rely on a big name film or comic licence. Indeed, LEGO City Undercover took inspiration from the LEGO City namesake instead, and because of this, we get a cast of unfamiliar characters instead of the likes of Batman and Luke Skywalker.

Now with multiplayer! The Wii U version was single player only and, while it does feel a little tacked on, it’s good to see it added here.

The game has you taking control of the wise cracking Chase McCain, an undercover police officer who is tasked with bringing escaped convict Rex Fury into custody. McCain and Fury have had run ins in the past, giving you greater motivation to put the villain away for good. The story is also littered with film references, and there’s some really amusing stuff in there, and it’s the amusement that makes the rather clichéd plot all the more enjoyable.

As a game, LEGO City Undercover takes place in an open-world city environment, and can therefore be called a tamer version of Grand Theft Auto. All the major features from developer TT’s long running LEGO series are in there though, with millions of studs to be collected, red bricks to be found. The all important gold bricks also make their return, which are rewarded to you for pretty much everything, and there’s a total of 450 of them for you to find, which will certainly keep you busy if you have your sights set on the lot of them. Alongside the aforementioned old faithfuls, the game also introduces Super Bricks.

When found and picked up, Super Bricks give you a lot of bricks at once, which are handy for going towards the bigger builds in the city. These suitably named Super Builds allow you to create things such as vehicle call-in points, bridges to access other areas of the city as well as jumps for shortcuts or to reach otherwise inaccessible areas. At some points you are required to build these bigger objects to progress in the story, but luckily the game always assures that there’s plenty of Super Bricks to be found in the area if required.

Character swapping also makes its return, but in spite of the similarities to other LEGO games, here you are supposed to be disguising Chase rather than taking control of a completely different character. Regardless of being simple disguises, Chase is able to make use of different skills based on the disguise that he is currently using. As himself he is able to make use of a grappling hook for example, as the thief he is able to make use of a crowbar to open certain doors, as the fireman he is able to extinguish flames, as the workman you are able to drill into the ground in marked areas to unearth secrets, as the astronaut you are able to use a jetpack, and so on. The game often has you switching between different disguises to proceed through missions, and you’ll even find yourself having to do this if you intend to explore the open world itself. At certain points, you may have to wait until you unlock certain skills at a later time before you are able to interact with particular objects.

There are certain things about LEGO City Undercover that are serviceable as opposed to remarkable. The driving can sometimes feel rather slow, although it still remains a rather fun way to get around LEGO City. The worst part of the game is easily the combat as, while it’s very nicely animated and often comedic, it’s also rather boring, and this will be mostly noticeable to older players. Given that the game’s primary audience is children though, it’s easier to let certain things slide than it would be in a game aimed at an older demographic. Not forgetting to mention that the game is also a lot about exploring and collecting, and this is easily one of the most satisfying areas of the game.

The cars appear to be made from LEGO, although the buildings do not.

There’s a lot to do in LEGO City. The main story of the game can be completed within 15 hours or so, but if you want to aim for 100%, then this can take 40+ hours to achieve. There are criminals to capture, parkour and vehicle time trials, pigs to return, plants to water, and so on, and there are enough distractions to hold you up as you make your way towards your next story mission or the like. This is an open-world game that certainly doesn’t feel empty, and because of the amount of different skills and whatnot, there’s also enough variation to stave off repetition.

The city itself is also well designed, and, surprisingly, from time to time there are some really quite beautiful sights to be seen. When you go up on to some of the rooftops, there are some lovely views to be found around and below you, and it’s also good to see that the framerate is now a lot smoother in comparison to the original Wii U version of the game. More negatively, there is some noticeable pop-up from time to time.

LEGO City Undercover is another LEGO game from TT that is worthy of plenty of attention, and hopefully it will get that now that it has cast its net a lot further than the Wii U. The game may have benefited from better combat, but LEGO City is a lively place with lots of humour and things to do, and the game is simple enough to attract a wide audience, but also has enough depth in certain areas to attract a more hardened audience. Also, it must be said that this is a game that puts its open world to good use, and it doesn’t feel as if certain things have been forced in to its world to merely pad things out in the same way as some other open-world games do.