|System: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch|
|Dev: TT Fusion|
|Pub: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment|
|Release: April 4, 2017|
|Players: 1-2 Player|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Cartoon Violence, Crude Humor|
by Sean Engemann
When first released back in 2013, LEGO City Undercover was a giant revolutionary step for the LEGO video game series. It helped usher in open-world environments and fully voiced dialogue. It broke away from the shackles of movie franchises to create an original, compelling story. It was oozing with clever puzzles, cool costumes, and hilarious antics. I still regard it as the best LEGO game I ever played. The problem - I was one in a small group who actually played the game, thanks to it being released exclusively on the Wii U. Now the game has been given a second chance, available to a much bigger crowd thanks to it being released on the PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. The remastered version also includes a cooperative mode, a lacking feature from the original which ended up being one of its biggest criticisms. So what has everybody been missing all this time?
Well, a fantastically scripted story, for one. Taking on the role of Chase McCain, a cop with a blundered past but heroic attitude, you return to LEGO City with a singular mission, to put criminal Rex Fury behind bars for good. However, this is far from your typical cops and robbers scenario. Chase must go deep undercover, hence the title, and commit some questionable acts to infiltrate several nefarious organizations to track down Rex. He’ll end up in prison, working on a farm, digging in mines, checking out castles, and launching into space to get his man. There’s even a romantic plot with Chase’s ex-girlfriend Natalia that weaves itself into a jumbled mess throughout the course of the campaign. The finale is nothing short of epic and wholly satisfying, because unlike Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, and other movie juggernauts, in LEGO City Undercover every plot twist yields an unexpected surprise.
Of course, pop culture still invades many scenes, with moments from Titanic, The Shawshank Redemption, The Matrix, and many other film and TV nods adding loads of parodying chuckles. However, these references seemed a little out of time when the original game released and now seem too far removed from their small and silver screen heydays to appeal to the game’s younger generation.
But there’s still plenty for all ages to enjoy, thanks to the freedom that LEGO City Undercover offers. After breaking through your police officer orientation, you can bask in the glorious views of a skyscraper lined metropolis, piers, suburbs, and forested rural areas, all teaming with studs to collect and collectible bricks to sniff out. You’re given the authority to pop in and out of any vehicle and cruise around the city looking for your next objective or just simply something fun to do. This gameplay feels reminiscent of a Grand Theft Auto game, just without the murdering, swearing, and other mature shenanigans. LEGO City Undercover entices you to explore every nook, with locked interaction points coaxing you to advance the story in order to access new costumes and claim the secured prize. The freedom is offered, but it’s almost as if the game is telling you to finish the story, then come back and do everything else.
Undoubtedly the biggest addition to this remastered version is the cooperative mode. I personally had a blast wandering through the vast urban and rural jungles with my 4-year-old son. The difficulty scale is unquestionably light. LEGO City Undercover would rather fill you up with easily acquired collectibles, rather than stump you with mind-bending puzzles and an intricate combat system, opting for mashing a singular button in most cases. The humor spans a wide age spectrum, following almost every animated movie release in the past few decades, where adults will chuckle at some jokes as children bust out to others. It was also refreshing not to feel tied down to another player when free-roaming, as I could be riding pigs at one end of the map while my son was scaling tall buildings at the other. This does, however, bring into question the true validity of it being a “cooperative” multiplayer. The original game was single-player only, which meant every problem could be solved by swapping costumes from your own personal radial wheeled disguise closet. Most LEGO video games nowadays require multiple characters with unique skills to work in tandem. This remaster does nothing to change the formula, instead simply replicating a doppelganger Chase McCain wearing different colored threads for player two to use.