I’m a huge fan of the series of Lego games made by Travellers Tales. Although they’re all a bit samey, they never really seem to get old for me. Running around smashing stuff, beating the game, then going back and unlocking everything to 100% the game is all so much fun. I’ve played a few of the big IPs – Harry Potter, Hobbit, Lord of the Rings and Jurassic Park – but Lego City is the first original Lego game made. After playing it through, I can confirm Lego City: Undercover is now my favourite Lego game.
Lego City: Undercover is actually the second game in a series, there’s a lesser known prequel called Lego City: The Chase Begins released for the 3DS which I do not currently own. It fills in a lot of the backstory to the series and I plan on playing it at some point in future.
In the Lego City games you play as Chase McCain, a police officer. In the events preceding Lego City Undercover, Chase is disgraced and exiled or something like that. It doesn’t really tell you. In his absence, Lego City has become overrun by crime, probably because the Chief of Police spends most of his time taking naps and eating donuts. Chase McCain is brought back to get everything under control again and take down the recently escaped convict/super villain Rex Fury.
The “undercover” part of this game comes from both Chase infiltrating crime operations as an undercover cop to find out more about Rex’s operations, and the fact you unlock various disguises throughout the game. The different disguises give you different abilities, a little like a Metroidvania game.
The main story is progressed by heading to different locations and completing stand-alone levels. I didn’t spent that much time doing the main story – Lego City is absolutely huge and full of distractions, so getting side-tracked is incredibly easy. You’ll be on the way to some important mission, only to notice something whilst driving there, and spend the next hour climbing rooftops and getting up to all sorts of irrelevant tasks.
The story itself is okay. It’s not designed to be taken seriously and it’s filled with pop-culture references, parodies and dumb jokes. Personally I found lot of the humour fell flat, but it has it’s moments. It seems this is primarily a children’s game, so a lot of the humour is aimed at a younger audience.
There’s pretty much no wasted space in the city, it’s packed full of things to do. The more abilities you unlock, the more tasks there are to do throughout the cities, ranging from tracking down a bunch of escaped mountain pigs (they get to the most ridiculous places), to much more mundane things like taking a coffee break (literally just drinking a cup of coffee). Chase can scale enormous skyscrapers and get hugely sidetracked. Exploring the rooftops seems to go on endlessly sometimes. As fun as this is, eventually you’ll have to come back to the main story, because you need to unlock all the different abilities to actually do everything.
The game has two main currencies. Studs are scattered everywhere and used for purchasing vehicles and new disguises. Bricks, which you get from smashing things, are used for building Super Builds, which are big lego structures. Picking up bricks by smashing things is slow, so there’s also many Super Bricks scattered around everything which will give you either 1000 or 10,000 extra bricks. Finding super bricks is yet another opportunity to get distracted from the mission at hand!
I played almost the entire game in 2-player couch co-op. There’s a vertical split screen, so you lose quite a lot of screen space by doing this, but it’s absolutely worth it. For your non-gaming parter/child/parents/whoever, these games are super easy to pick up. There’s very little in the way of peril, so you won’t really find yourself dying or getting frustrated. You just have to smash stuff up and pick up studs. Where games such as Kuri Kuri Mix and LittleBigPlanet have failed me at being a fun co-op experience between myself and my non-gaming partner, Lego City: Undercover has succeeded.
A lot of people (myself included) really enjoy Lego games for the satisfaction of 100% completion. For this you have to collect all 450 gold bricks and unlock every character and vehicle. Every task you complete in the city will give you a gold brick. The city is huge, so tracking down every task can be quite a job. Thankfully you have a data-scan, which gives you a first person view and shows you any nearby collectibles.
To make your experience easier, you can also find Red Bricks. There’s usually one per district and one per story level, and they unlock various cheat codes. These can improve your abilities to make the collecting experience easier, such as adding extra information to your data scan, or they can be less useful and do things such as replace your usual ring-tone with fart noises (yes, really). Overall, this means the more stuff you find, the faster your exploring and collecting experience will be.
The 100% experience doesn’t really give you anything – but it doesn’t really matter, the experience in itself is extremely satisfying and once you’ve hit that 100% mark you can finally put the game down knowing that you’ve done everything you can.
Thanks to World of Longplays (longplay by kireev20000) for providing the video that I took the screenshots from!