LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins is all of the fun you would expect from a Nintendo title, filled with charm, humour and lots to do.
The game takes its inspiration not only from the LEGO City line of building toys but also from the type of open concept gameplay more mature fans have become accustomed to in the Grand Theft Auto series. In this game you will find many of the same familiar themes and gameplay mechanics from GTA titles without any of the violence or language that that series has become famous for.
In LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins you step into the shoes of Chase McCain, who is ready to prove he’s more than just a rookie police officer. This prequel to LEGO City Undercover on the Wii U reveals the origin story of Chase McCain, one of the city’s most celebrated crime fighters. Chase has just joined the police force and is sent undercover in order to prove his worth as a LEGO City police officer, making use of disguises to gain special abilities, and engage in hand-to-hand combat with underground criminal gangs. He quickly becomes a one-man show set to bring down the criminal element running amok in LEGO City.
Missions in the game are varied but usually involve getting from point A to point B while beating up baddies in the process, chasing down a criminal in a car chase or gathering up items. They are pretty simple to accomplish and aren’t that much of a challenge.
One thing that I’m still mixed on in the game is the difficulty level. The game almost feels too easy.
It’s not possible for Chase to die nor can you lose a mission. Chase has a life meter comprised of hearts, as do the vehicles he is in. If Chase loses all of his hearts he will fall to pieces, but will pop back to life with full hearts after a few seconds without missing a beat. You’ll be penalized a little bit of the money you’re collecting but that’s about it. As well any missions where you’re chasing a criminal in a car, you will never lose them. If they get to the destination before you the game will wait for you to catch up. If you have to damage the car until it pulls over it will go in circles until you do and even if your car breaks into pieces you will re-spawn and can continue the assault.
Also whereas in a typical adventure game you can discover cleverly hidden areas in the game that really take some thinking and investigating to uncover, here they are almost staring you in the face begging you to find them. Collectibles that you can find are marked with spinning icons, locked if you don’t have the necessary disguise to use them yet, but plain to see. Areas where you can climb or get to stand out from the rest of the environment. Not sure how to get onto the roof of a building? Well the bright blue drain pipe will surely get you there. This took some of the thrill out of hunting for secrets, though the game is loaded with them.
Now this is a LEGO game after all so almost every item in the game, from lamp posts, crates, fire hydrants, trees and more are breakable. Hit them a few times and they’ll burst apart giving you bricks you can use to build certain things in the game as well as money you can use to purchase unlockables. Some of the breakable items even hide collectibles.
When you do find the collectibles they aren’t immediately unlocked for you. You will instead have to venture down to the police station to purchase them. You can unlock a ton of costumes as well as vehicles which can be called in at vehicle call-in points around the various parts of the city. Some of them can cost a pretty penny so you’ll have to save up and do a lot of item busting. But there is another great way to rack up some quick cash.
While fighting thugs, when you toss them (X) you get some money, but if you grab them and then throw them with (A) you get even more money out of them. Do this multiple times and you can rack up money even faster. Though it’s tougher as it takes longer to do, and you have to be careful when facing off against multiple assailants. Tossing them all around with (X) is quicker and easier but with little payoff. It’s easy to rack up 20,000 in one tumble with three baddies this way.
As previously mentioned there are lots of character collectibles to unlock, which are new costumes. You can purchase them and select which costume you wear by default for each costume mode. It is also possible to customize a special mix-and-match costume where you can customize between any head, body, hat and legs for any position. It’s possible to make your default cop outfit have clown hair, zombie face, swimsuit top and police legs. There are lots of crazy combinations possible.
Adding to the game you can use the bricks you collect to build various places around town. Each area has a space where you can build helipad, vehicle requisition pad, stunt jump ramps and other landmark items. You’ll need to build them all to complete the game, but none of them are necessary to beat the story mode. Helipads are great for quickly jumping between areas without having to drive all the way from one to another. Hop in the chopper for a quick flight to the police station to buy collectibles. The ability to requisition vehicles is also handy as the cars that drive around the different areas of town only do so in specific areas.
While you can merely stumble upon the collectibles while playing the game you can also use a scanner device to look for them. The scanner you use looks just like a Wii U gamepad (in the Wii U version you have the same device) and items show up orange when you find them. You can also listen in for audio clues with the scanner as well.
LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins is a very cute title and has a nice amount of humour built into the story. The cutscenes are funny as well, though with the lack of audio voice overs in the mission briefings some of said humour loses it’s punch.
One thing is for sure. This game is definitely a family friendly spin on the Grand Theft Auto setup of an open world game. If you have a younger one who wants to play your copy of GTA sit them down with this title and they’ll be satisfied. Plus you won’t have to worry about any mature content in this game. It’s all of the fun of city exploration and missions without any of the sex, violence and coarse language.