|System: Wii U|
|Dev: TT Fusion|
|Release: March 18, 2013|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Cartoon Violence, Crude Humor|
The game is in good shape technically, with smooth gameplay and the elimination of the platforming frustrations that dogged previous LEGO titles. Instead of free-form jumping puzzles, most platforming is done with the assistance of blue-and-white “free run” LEGO structures, which make city parkour feel similar to the rhythmic acrobatics of 2008's Prince of Persia reboot. Fights are simple but fairly fun once the player unlocks “advanced” combat (three buttons instead of one!), and as mentioned, the developers did a great job with the vehicle controls.
The one technical pitfall in LEGO City is the load times. There are no load times while running around the city, but players will see the dreaded spinning police badge loading screen for far too long when switching into and out of missions and cutscenes. This happens particularly often at the beginning of the game, which is likely to turn off new players. I played the physical version of the game and there's word that the digital version has slightly better load times, but the digital version is too large to be tenable unless you've got an external drive hooked up to your Wii U.
For those with the patience for the load times, there's plenty of payoff. It may share many elements with previous LEGO games, but LEGO City is simply more fun to play. The animation and sound design add the perfect finishing touches to the improved gaming experience begun by the game's technical improvements and more freeform feel. From the regular sight gags to the judicious use of slow motion during various action scenes, the game inspires the player to grin regularly while playing.
The city's ambient sounds are impressive and often amusing, from the random comments of passers-by to the fact that LEGO City's residents seem to enjoy playing '70's-style detective movie funk music on their radios (I'm still hoping to find LEGO John Shaft somewhere). The voice actors are appropriately hammy, delivering perfect B-movie performances suited to the game's theme. Chase's voice actor in particular does a good job delivering his lines, staying hammy and self-aware, but generally managing not to cross the line into lameness.
In the final estimation, LEGO City Undercover is a strong step ahead of Traveler's Tales' previous work. It finally nails the spirit of LEGO, and does so with a great deal of panache. Players can't expect anything vastly different from the norm—it's still a family-friendly action game full of puzzles and collectable items, and most gamers are unlikely to be strongly challenged by anything the game throws their way. That's all right, though, because it's all about having fun in a giant LEGO playground unlike any we've seen a game so far. The Chase is on, and he'll be taking you for a great ride.
Date: March 19, 2013