Saturday, March 30, 2013

Lego City Undercover: Chase McCaine is on the chase!

     Travelers Tales has brought forth a Lego game that for once doesn't feature licensed characters. Instead there are characters made up from Legos own City universe. We haven't seen an original franchise Lego game since Lego Racers 2 and the likes of Lego Island 2 as well. In my circle those games and their predecessors, such as Lego Creator and Lego Rock Raiders, are held in high regard for all of their childhood memories they hold with us.
     Upon starting up the game it is apparent that the Lego franchise is more than capable of being endearing and fun. Cut scenes are usually hilarious as we see the characters bumble around the screen in a fresh 720p resolution. Movie and pop culture parodies are bountiful and provide laughs for adults and children alike.

     Previous Lego games relied on physical humor considering the cut scenes had voice acting consisting of grunts. This is because it's expensive to hire voice actors to fill rolls for such licenses as the Batman franchise or Star Wars. Now with Lego working side by side with Traveler we have a fully fledged storyline with top notch voice actors.

    Interestingly enough we can thank Nintendo for some funding provided towards the game. Certainly a game that is large like this requires a large budget to match. As such there are various Nintendo themed goodies provided in-game. It truly shows that Nintendo knew it needed this game out and pronto.

     The gameplay is very similar to your grand theft auto sandbox style game but it certainly is more than that when you add all of that Lego flair. As usual there are other characters (disguises) to purchase with studs (think scattered coins in the landscape) and super builds strewn about. Super builds offer various structures that may fulfill a mission requirement such as a bridge or could be a new car spawn point or other variations.

     Again you must break various smaller items except this time you must collect actual Lego pieces. These Lego pieces are what allows you to construct the super builds. As such, the Lego pieces could be more valuable than studs you could say. Other game mechanics such as driving, specialty swapping, where a quick costume change allows you to complete a simple puzzle, are all in full force. This truly is not just another Lego game.

     Some positive things that I really love about this game are how varied the missions are. You could be sent to steal something and have to solve puzzles in a level or simply drive someone in a limo from their office to the ice cream parlour, it's all good fun. The cut scenes are lively and the script and story line are top notch. They parody the action cop genre and nail it. Be on the look out for a buttery smooth voiced character hanging around the prison yard.

     There are a few negatives, but certainly none that ruin the experience, but are noteworthy nonetheless. Load times, you've probably heard that these suckers are long and, well, I usually responded to texts while it loaded. It was about 30 seconds which started to annoy me after a few hours of playing. It was tiresome to see it before a mission and after and before every cut scene. Needless to say, I understand why we need the long loading time, but I am hoping an update can remedy some of it.

     Another nuance for me occurs while destroying environmental objects. Lego pieces can be obtained from objects you destroy, the more you destroy in a short time nets you a multiplier bonus. The issue is that as I'm driving, and trying to control the over steer if I accidentally picked a bad car, I try to destroy the objects that give me Lego bricks. A lot of the actual structures in Lego city are not actually made of Lego. I understand the tech limits of having all of those breakable structures but there are times out on the road where you run out of light poles to hit and your multiplier is guaranteed to go out.

     One last note that is a large issue is handling. Vehicles are not that fun to drive as managing where they steer can be too much when you hit certain speeds.

     Overall, this is a great game for the WiiU. It has excellent replay value and wonderfully fun incentives to try and find every last hidden red brick. This should keep players busy for a month or so until more Nintendo first party games get here. Then we need to see another game in this Lego gold mind.

Need a recap?

Positives:
- Fun, varied missions
- Script, storyline, and voice acting are all top notch
- Very good humor that anyone can enjoy
- One of the few games worth currently buying on the WiiU

Negatives:
- Loading times are horrible
- Not enough breakable Lego blocks to keep a multiplier going
- Vehicle handling can be sloppy at times

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