Lego-loving children have a new way to pursue their passion: as an undercover cop in a delightful city made completely of Lego blocks. In “Lego City Undercover” kids don disguises to catch baddies while exploring a colorful, massive city made from their favorite toy construction sets.
Not only do you play as hero Chase McCain in this charming world filled with Lego characters (blocky bodies with claw hands and tons of swagger), but you also get to drive more than 100 Lego vehicles. And this undercover cop adventure is filled with hilarious cheeky humor — a trademark of all Lego video games.
“Lego City Undercover ” serves up adventure in the form of missions to take down the city’s crooks. Chase unlocks disguises and corresponding abilities as the story progresses; the game is constantly introducing new play elements to keep kids’ interest high. After landing their first criminals in the clink, players excitedly await their next tangle with the bad guys.
As a cop helping to fight a crime wave, the player chases bad guys, uses special police scanners and scales the outside of buildings using rock climbing skills and parkour moves to jump from one building to another.
New equipment unlocks over time, including a grappling gun that allows the player to be pulled up to high places. There is even a special scanner that reveals hidden items or unseen footsteps leading to hiding places.
This Wii U exclusive game makes good use of the gamepad’s second screen. The police dispatcher appears via video. She provides detailed maps with lines drawn to show you how to navigate to your next destination. The gamepad also becomes your scanner. You pick it up and move it around to find hidden things, including crooks and special items.
In addition to the help provided on the gamepad, the game itself has lots of built-in hints. When you’re walking, the game provides an arrow showing you the correct direction. If you are driving, green studs appear on the road to show you the correct path. Other characters pipe up with helpful suggestions and reminders as you play.
In addition to putting the bad guys behind bars, you are also solving a bigger mystery of why a crime spree is happening now. Chase has a backstory that slowly unfolds. It involves the current blustering police chief, a woman in whom Chase has an interest and others. Frank Honey provides a lot of comic relief as Chase’s dimwitted co-worker.
For kids who enjoy exploration and collecting, “Lego City Undercover” delivers inspired opportunities for both. This wide open city invites kids to deviate from the green-studded path to find and discover secret hiding places. When they do, they are normally rewarded with rare collectible bricks. All parts of this world are strewn with Lego studs which kids collect by having Chase run over them. Collecting studs — the currency of this game — becomes important, since the game offers you things to purchase. For example, you can build helpful things like a Call-in Port, where the police dispatcher can deliver you a new car if you happen to need one.
As good as this game is — and it is great — there are a few annoying aspects. Prepare your kids for long load times between scenes. And the driving controls are so tight that kids new to playing video games will have some trouble not crashing into pedestrians walking beside the road (don’t worry, no one ever dies, they just jump out of the way or pop back up after you run over them). And unlike most Lego games, this one has no cooperative play so kids play it alone.
“Lego City Undercover” earned an E10+ rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) for its crude humor and cartoon violence. There are some run-ins that involve fisticuffs but no one is ever really hurt. And later in the game, Chase unlocks some cartoony guns for knocking down lawbreakers. Potty humor appears at times as characters fart and do other silly things. Kids under age 10 will want to play this game; so parents should judge their child’s ability to handle these depictions and antics.
For Lego enthusiasts, don’t miss this one. Seeing your toy building sets brought to life within this dynamic world is thrilling. While the game doesn’t allow kids to build their own designs with Legos, it will likely send them hunting for tubs of old Legos bricks. A game like this that motivates real toy play earns some extra points.
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