For Black Friday this year, I purchased three games digitally for my Xbox One–LEGO City Undercover, Batman: Arkham Asylum, and Batman: Arkham City. Go me. And yes, I’ve technically already played Batman: Arkham Asylum on my PlayStation 3, but this came as part of a two-game bundle, and the price was too good to ignore. I think it was about $5.00. But I’m not here to chat about the Batman…instead, let’s get into Chase McCain and his big-city antics.
Naturally, LEGO City Undercover takes place in the vast LEGO City, with players controlling an undercover cop appropriately named Chase McCain. Chase goes on the hunt for criminals, with various moves at his disposal, such as swinging across poles and performing wall jumps. He can also gain disguises throughout his quest to take down Rex Fury that give him additional abilities, such as a robber disguise that lets him break locks, a miner that can use dynamite, or a firefighter to put out fires and chop down boards on doors. Chase can also pilot a number of different vehicles, such as cars and helicopters, and use loose bricks to build various special structures. It’s basically a severely toned-down version of Grand Theft Auto, but with more building and people jumping out of the way of a car driving down the sidewalk.
This is a totally original LEGO story, for once not based on any sort of previously established universe and/or characters. Upon McCain’s return to the titular LEGO City, the mayor reveals the city is in the grips of a crime wave, which she suspects to be the work of Rex Fury, a notorious criminal that Chase initially helped to arrest, but who has since escaped from prison. Chase is tasked with finding him. To assist him, Chase is joined by dim-witted rookie Frank Honey and police technician Ellie Phillips. However, McCain’s grand return is not welcome news for Natalia Kowalski, Chase’s ex-girlfriend, who was forced into the witness protection program after he inadvertently revealed her as the witness in Fury’s trial. I mention all these characters by name because they truly make the story work, fun, and engaging, and Frank Honey is just so goofy and dumb as LEGO bricks that you have to love him.
LEGO City Undercover is packed with humor, references, and silly gags, as one might expect from the folks at Traveller’s Tales. Some of these I think might go over many children’s heads, but I spotted several and smiled constantly. There’s an early level that is entirely a pastiche of The Shawshank Redemption, complete with a Morgan Freeman impersonator. Later, you have to follow the instructions of a construction worker who sounds exactly like one Arnold Schwarzenegger, with him even mentioning that we need to “get to the chopper.” The game definitely has its own voice and sense of style, and the writing is engaging and goofy, even when attempting to hit some emotional beats. There’s a redemption arc for McCain, but it falls a little flat with all the goofiness around his actions.
And now, the most daunting aspect of LEGO City Undercover is just how much stuff there is to discover. I’m talking collectibles here, and LEGO videogames have just continuously gotten bigger and bigger with each new entry. However, this feels like a bit too much, yet sadly I will have to collect every single one of them or forever not sleep soundly again:
- 39 Red Bricks
- 305 Characters
- 120 Vehicles
- 450 Gold Bricks
Now, those 450 gold bricks are tied to at least over a dozen different types of activities, such as punching ATMs, destroying boulders, doing time trials, chasing down aliens, watering flowerpots, and so on. Basically, if you do something special or attached to a specific character disguise for McCain, you get a gold brick. Hooray. Since beating the game the other day, I am just a smidge over 100 gold bricks and somewhere in the 35% completion total rate, which means I have a long road ahead of me.
Other than LEGO City Undercover glitching out on me a few times, I’ve generally had a good time with the game. I wasn’t too keen on having to collect building bricks along with studs, but it hasn’t been an issue, and once you beat the game you get an automatic x2 multiplier to the activity. Still, there’s lot of things left to build, so maybe I’ll end up hating the grinding for building bricks by the end. If you don’t hear from me in a month’s time, please send help.