What is Lego City Undercover?
Lego City Undercover is the latest in a long line of Lego games, but also one that takes a slightly different approach. Instead of tying in with a film license like the earlier Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Batman games, Lego City Undercover tells an entirely original story, putting your child into the shoes of Chase McCain, a policeman who's been tasked with hunting down the notorious - and recently escaped - criminal Rex Fury.
How do you play Lego City Undercover?
You time in Lego City Undercover is generally split between traditional Lego style levels, where you play as Chase as he goes undercover to track down Rex Fury, and more open-ended city exploration, hunting for secrets and collectibles. Levels are the usual blend of brick-smashing, enemy-bashing and brick-rebuilding, leaning heavily on the multi-talented Chase McCain's many abilities to solve puzzles to proceed. Whether it's some death-defying acrobatics to reach a switch to open a door, blowing up solid Silver Lego with a few sticks of dynamite or levering a locked door open with his trusty crowbar, Chase has many abilities at his disposal, all tied to his different 'undercover' outfits - including a farmer who can glide through the air with the help of a chicken. Each disguise has its own set of unique abilities, and knowing which one to use in which situation is key to progressing.
Outside of the self-contained levels, Lego City Undercover takes place in a huge, open, Lego world, packed full of things to do, secrets to find, and collectibles to, er, collect, it's entirely possible to spend hours without even touching the story, just discovering the city itself. If you want to go straight to the next objective and track down Rex Fury - you can. Equally, if you'd rather spend ages hunting down a pink car, then go for a drive and see the sights while hunting down the collectibles, you can do that too.
Of course, as your child's playing as a cop, they have a variety of tools at their disposal, too. The Wii U GamePad serves as not only a map, but as a high tech gadget for tracking down crooks, that can work as both a camera (for taking a Chase-eye view of the action), and an infra-red scanner, that lets you hunt out bad guys, and collectibles, by simply moving the GamePad around. Meanwhile, with the ability to draw traffic to a halt at the press of a button, you can also run up to and jump into any car, tram, bus, lorry, or truck you like, and drive off - after all, it is "police business".
How easy is Lego City Undercover to pick up and play?
But while open worlds always have the potential to be intimidating for younger players, Lego City Undercover does really a good job of holding your hand, not just as you're getting started, but all the way through the game, making sure you never feel lost. With a trail of green studs that constantly guides you to your next objective, and colleagues who'll constantly be phoning you on your in game communicator to remind you where you're going next, the chances are your child will always know exactly where and what they're meant to be doing next - which is quite a feat in a world as large as this one.
Fully voiced and subtitled, there's few barriers to getting stuck in, too - although you may want to bear in mind that, unlike every other LEGO game so far, there's no co-op mode here, which is a bit of a disappointment.
Although it gives you an open city to explore, there's little in LEGO City Undercover for parents to worry about. The few guns that are featured in the game don't actually fire bullets, but fire paint instead, while any combat mostly revolves around lightly punching/kicking enemies until they explode into their constituent parts and disappear. There's nothing in the way of swearing, no sex, and nothing else for parents to worry about!
Format Reviewed: Nintendo Wii U