GAME NAME: LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins
DEVELOPER(S): TT Fusion
PLATFORM(S): Wii U
GENRE(S): Open World, Action, Adventure
RELEASE DATE(S): 26 April 2013
In a bizarre move from TT Fusion they’ve made a decision to launch a prequel to the original title LEGO City on the Wii U just a few weeks after the launch of the original. Insanity? Not quite. If you were lucky enough to play the Wii U version of LEGO City Undercover you would know that you first arrive in the game as a hero cop on a ship out of nowhere. You’ve got no idea what Chase’s background is and why Rex Fury is such a renowned criminal. LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins tells the origin story.
If you’re new to the franchise it’s a great title to start with. Chase McCain is an up-and-coming detective… or rather an aspiring detective. His first few missions will have you running errands by collecting donuts for out-of-control officer Dunby and then finding a civilian’s missing dog, which happens to have been kidnapped by a group outside of the law. It’s at this point the REAL Chase McCain as we know him comes to life. Don’t for a moment think that the scaled-down version of the game has thrown anything out of the window. You’ll get to play in a three-dimensional LEGO GTA-like game, just as you did with the Wii U. Minus the 3D. The acrobatics you managed in the Wii U version port well to the small screen.
The emphasis on different disguises have also ported and to some degree been improved on. To change between outfits you simply tap on the touch screen several times or hit left and right on the D-pad. Change to the burglar outfit and you’ll find that you don’t just have to tap away at the A button to force a safe open with a crowbar. This time you pull out your stylus and break the code on the safe by moving from left to right or right to left on the touch screen. It’s not very difficult to master but it brings something new to the 3DS version. Other outfits such as the spacesuit, farmer, fireman and handyman have all returned and play very similar roles to the Wii U version, minus the flying ability of the spacesuit which now requires a timed button press to activate an automatic on-rails flying cinematic. When playing in Chase’s undercover disguise the 3DS’s gyroscope comes into play as you scan for behind-closed-door conversations to help you track down the criminals.
Being a LEGO game there is still much emphasis on building. LEGO studs are scattered all over town that can be used to buy extra vehicles or disguises, but you’re once again after those elusive Super Bricks. By collecting those you can build Super Build Structures. Helipads, vehicle call points and other important structures are built right in front of your eyes with hundreds of blocks falling from the sky. Not only do you keep an eye open for construction, at times Chase will need to deconstruct structures (read: punch chairs, umbrellas and anything in your way) to pieces and rebuild it to unveil a new route to reach your objective.
Though there has been some surprising improvements such as the improved vehicle control and added 3D that the 3DS provides there are some quirks. LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins does suffer from some of the worst pop-up and draw distance I’ve yet witnessed on the 3DS. Seeing another car pop up out of nowhere while driving is a common occurrence. What are more alarming are the massive load times. Like GTA Vice City where you witnessed a load time when crossing from one island to the next, LEGO City has been divided up into invisible territories. Try to move past it and you’re greeted with a loading scene, though you have the option to opt out and remain in your current territory. We’re talking loading times that stretch past thirty seconds. It’s just something that does not quite work for a game on the move where chances are good that you have limited time to play.
Yes, LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins is not the best free-roam game we’ve seen but right now your choices for sandbox games on the 3DS and Vita are non-existent. This is pretty much your only option. What it achieves is still enjoyable and will last you roughly seven hours for the campaign and an addition four to five hours if you plan to complete it 100%. If you played LEGO City on the Wii U this is a just about compulsory. Newcomers might want to chase after something with a bit more substance, like Luigi’s Mansion 2.