Review: LEGO CITY Undercover (PS4)

Review: LEGO CITY Undercover (PS4)

Formats:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • Nintendo Switch
  • Wii U
  • PC

Format/Hardware Used:

  • Blu-ray Disc
  • PS4
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
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Title: LEGO CITY Undercover
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (11.55 GB)
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: TT Games
Original MSRP: $59.99
ESRB Rating: E10+
PEGI: 7
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Audio Review:
The audio review for this game is available on Episode 525 of the podcast at 72:55.
PS Nation Podcast Episode 525

LEGO CITY Undercover was originally commissioned by Nintendo and released exclusively on the Wii U in March 2013. It contained the biggest LEGO game world and story at the time.

It quickly became one of my favorite LEGO games and I was a little disappointed that so few people would ever get to experience it.

With the Switch coming out this past March, Nintendo needed as many titles as possible for the launch window. Whether Nintendo approached Warner Bros. and Traveller’s Tales or vice versa, the end result was an updated version of the game for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch.

Gameplay:
You play as Chase McCain, a cop returning to LEGO CITY after being run out in disgrace two years earlier. With the help of his girlfriend, Chase was able to put big time criminal Rex Fury behind bars.

Unfortunately, he exposed her identity on TV during the trial and she had to enter the witness protection program. When Chase was sent away another officer, Marion Dunby, took credit for the capture and conviction of Rex Fury and quickly rose to Chief of Police.

Now Rex has escaped from prison and Chase is back to hunt him down and put him behind bars once more. He’ll also have the chance to redeem himself and try to make things right with his ex-girlfriend Natalia.

What makes this game so good is that it’s essentially Grand Theft Auto LEGO. Things are slightly reversed as you’re playing as a cop instead of the bad guy, but you’ll be doing plenty of undercover work with ample opportunity to live out your criminal LEGO dreams.

… complete the Super Builds around the city …
While at its core, this is still a typical LEGO game with missions, LEGO studs to collect, Red and Gold Bricks to find, and plenty to unlock, but there’s so much more that’s unique to this specific title. For starters, LEGO studs have a lesser importance here as evidenced by the fact that they’re literally lying around all over the city.

You’ll still need them to buy all the characters and vehicles you find on missions and hidden around the map, but they’re never in short supply as they constantly respawn when you leave an area and then return a short time later.

When you break objects in other LEGO games you get studs. Here you get LEGO bricks and you’ll need a lot of them to complete the Super Builds around the city. These builds can be anything from new structures to vehicle call-in points. Building them also gets you another Gold Brick so the completionists will want to find them all.

The world itself is massive, easily the largest single LEGO world map to date. Architecture and locations here are inspired by San Francisco, New York City, London, and more, and it’s really easy to get sidetracked and lost in in the twenty-some distinct areas throughout the city once you’ve unlocked them all.

… teleportation and beam-in support …
As a detective, Chase will have the opportunity to don a number of disguises, each giving him new abilities, many of which don’t appear in any other LEGO games. For example, the cop disguises allow you to do a Data Scan for hidden items, a Criminal Scan for bad guys in the area, or an Audio Scan to listen in on conversations.

These were previously all handled on the Wii U Game Pad but have since been transposed directly to the TV screen and they work just as well either way. Other unique abilities come with the astronauts and their teleportation and beam-in support. Firemen also have a fire axe to break down boarded up doors.

The rest of the abilities afforded by your disguises have been duplicated across other LEGO games so anyone familiar with the franchise, especially LEGO Dimensions will feel at home with everything else available here.

The sheer volume of things to do around the city, coupled with more than 300 characters and around 120 vehicles to find, including aircraft and boats, it’d be really hard to get bored with this game.

… tool around the expansive city and surrounding islands without a hitch …
Visuals:
This is a big step up from the Wii U and it literally shows in every way. Cleaner lines, better lighting, deeper reflections, increased draw distance, and pretty much zero pop-in make this one of the most stable and best looking LEGO games to date.

It’s even more impressive when you consider how big the city itself is. The only time you’ll see loading screens is when you enter and exit missions or some of the bigger structures. Otherwise you’re free to tool around the expansive city and surrounding islands without a hitch.

The variety of the locations around the city is really impressive and it’s all stitched together in a clean way that makes it feel natural like the map in Grand Theft Auto V.

Audio:
While this is the story of a cop hunting down an escaped convict it’s still a LEGO game so expect a ton of humor in the dialogue. Movie and pop culture references abound with more hits than misses. The voice actors all did an excellent job with their delivery of the lines as well.

The music harkens back to 70’s cop dramas and really nails that feeling for anybody who grew up in that era. It really sets the tone for the whole game and elevates it in a way by really banging on that mood.

… the best this franchise has to offer …
Online/Multiplayer:
While it wasn’t available on the Wii U due to the control scheme, local co-op splitscreen has been added here. I was curious as to how it would be handled since unlike other LEGO games, you really only play as one character.

Because of that, the second player is also Chase McCain. It’s a bit of a letdown but ultimately not a big deal. It’s just nice to have the co-op option, especially if you have kids.

Conclusion:
For the past few years I’ve rambled on about how LEGO CITY Undercover is possibly the best LEGO game to date and often lamented that only a small group of Wii U owners would ever get to experience it. Now it’s made the unexpected jump to all the modern systems and it’s even better.

The excruciatingly long load times are gone and the game just plain looks and plays better than it previously did. For my money, it’s no longer a question. In combining two massive game franchises, Grand Theft Auto and LEGO, TT Games has hit upon the perfect formula for fans of either.

With a massive open world, a seemingly unending list of things to do and find, and a fun, compelling story, LEGO CITY Undercover is clearly the best this franchise has to offer.

Score:
9.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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