Garbage Collector

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Lego City Undercover

Lego City Undercover
© Nintendo, Warner Bros Entertainment

Lego City Undercover is an action-adventure video game released at first on Nintendo Wii U on 2013 as an exclusive game for the system. It was developed by TT Games, the British studio behind almost every Lego franchise video games and mixes the gameplay we are used to see for these games in a big open world city : Lego City. I’ve done this game on Nintendo Wii U at this time, but as it was remastered and released on various consoles and PC, I bought it again on Nintendo Switch when it was on sales.

Chase McCain is a police officer who comes back to Lego City after being sent away two years ago at the request of the city mayor. The city is under a great wave of crimes and its reputation is heavily impacted because of this. At the head of this crime syndicate is Rex Fury, the criminal Chase helped to arrest two years ago who escaped from its prison. Helped by the rookie officer Franck Honey and the police’s technician Ellie Phillips, Chase must find and stop again Rex Fury.

Just like the previous Lego games, Lego City Undercover use the same gameplay features : destroying the Lego builds in the environment to construct other ones, collecting coins required to buy various in-game things (characters, cars, etc), if you have already played to these games you are in a well-known field. This time, this is not a licensed game like the others (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, etc) but a full original story based on the Lego City brand. The city is an assembly of several real locations like New York, San Francisco, or London. The City is the game hub where the player can explore and resolve numerous puzzles to unlock every items in the game. And there are a lot of characters, vehicles, trials, speed races, free run, and other challenges to accomplish in order to have a 100% finished. The game alternate the exploration of Lego City and the story missions which are more like the previous Lego Games : area to explore with a fixed camera where the player have to resolve puzzles with various hidden items and secrets to unlock, and replay when the player has unlocked new aptitudes.

In the Lego Games, you usually alternate between various characters who have their own skills : gunner, fighter, can jump higher, possesses a hook, can fly, etc. Just like the game is titled, the main character Chase is undercover. He is a police officer that will infiltrate the various gangs of Lego City to find out the schemes of Rex Fury. These disguises will unlock the possibilities for the character : the robber disguise allow to force locked doors and vaults, the firemen disguise allow to extinct fires and break doors, the miner can use dynamite and break rocks, etc.

The Lego City Undercover scenario is an original police story where the player is a law enforcer agent that will fight crime and infiltrate them. Of course, the story has a lot of humour and pop-culture references that make it very fun and stupid. However, the story is very nice and has a good rhythm without too many pauses. So, there are a lot of references like Matrix, Jaws, Starky & Hutch, etc. Despite all of these humour, the story is well written and the characters are nicely developed. We can really feel the fact they wanted to make a game that both kids and adults can play. A prequel was also release on Nintendo 3DS in 2013. I also dit it at this time, but because of the support which is more limited, the game shorter and the City wasn’t fully available.

However, this game has some issues. First, the loading screens are awfully long, that’s horrible. The remaster didn’t changed anything, the first loading is still too long and I deeply thanks the possibility to keep it started while the console is in sleep mode. Also, there are a lot of framerate issues, globally the game barely go higher than 30fps and there are a lot of drops during some sequences with fire or mist effects. I don’t know if the Switch is the only one affected or not, I think I should have bought the Steam version. There are also some issues in the gameplay where the character can sometimes be a little erratic and can’t take grip on jumping structures or its movements could be weird. Also, the firemen extinguisher is horrible to target with. And finally, the cars driving can be terrible some times with a bad response to the stick, making some racing missions very annoying.

Despite these issues, the game is globally pretty and its city is very alive with a lot of people saying random small talk. Another good point for this game is the musics that are awesome. A big part of the soundtrack is inspired by old American cop TV shows like Starsky and Hutch or Miami Vice. There are also some musical references to Encounters when visiting the Apollo Island in the game where a space launch center is present and using the Astronaut disguise boxes (the puzzle is a Simon-like game with four music notes inspired by the famous Close Encounters of the Third Kind five-note tonal phrase). The last level of the game also provides a very epic music and is really awesome of every points.

To conclude, this game has issues and its remaster didn’t fix a lot of these according to my memories of the Wii U original version. One feature added was the multiplayer split-screen coop like the other Lego Games as it was a recurrent criticism of the Wii U version which was only a solo game. However, its a nice member of the Lego family games and there are a lot of things to do with it.

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