Reviews: Gaming

The gentle arm of the law in Lego City Undercover

A family-friendly theme is maintained in Lego City Undercover.
A family-friendly theme is maintained in Lego City Undercover.PHOTO: LEGO

Despite being exposed to countless Lego video games over the past decade, there were some exclusive titles I have not tried as I did not own all the consoles and handhelds. One such title is Lego City Undercover, released in 2013 for Wii U. So I'm glad it has now been made available for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.

The game boasts a vast offline city landscape. However, instead of being placed at the location of each mission like in past games, a fair amount of travelling on the map is required to get to each of them.

The title's opening introduction may seem like a presentation for a Grand Theft Auto video game, but I feel it is closer to the long-forgotten True Crime video game, in which you play as an officer of the law. This approach is understandable as Lego would want to maintain a family-friendly theme. This theme runs through the gameplay too.

You play as Chase McCain, an ex-cop who has left town. Upon discovering that a criminal he had put behind bars has escaped, he returns to protect his love interest. He carries a grapple gun instead of a firearm, and uses a takedown and handcuffs to subdue criminals. Even when he needs to possess a vehicle from citizens, he would blow a whistle and flash his badge instead of resorting to violence.

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The familiar actions of smashing structures, reconstructing items and collecting special bricks from past Lego games are all here, along with a new scanning device that looks like the Wii U console which can be used to scout for clues and hidden items.

You will need to switch to unlocked disguises of the same character in order to access special abilities. For example, a burglar disguise gives the character access to a crowbar which is handy for prising open locked doors and crates.

Most players can complete the main plot with ease. Dedicated players can access special areas by unlocking all abilities. Backtracking is the norm and this is not new in Lego's formula. There is also an option for a second player in the same room to jump in, which is great for parent-child bonding sessions.

  • 8/10

    RATING

    PRICE: $69.90 (PS4, the version tested; XboxOne, Nintendo Switch)

    GENRE: Open world sandbox

Set in a mock recreation of San Francisco, there are about 20 districts to explore in the game with more than 100 land, sea and air vehicles. What sets this game apart from past releases is its numerous parodies of movies, music and video games. See if you can spot those borrowed from Titanic, Starsky & Hutch, Police Academy and Naked Gun.

Being a remastered game, there is no Season Pass access in this release. This is a much welcome change from the usual buzz around this scheme that requires paying more for additional content. On its own, there is much in the game to keep you occupied for many hours.

As a family-friendly game, the checkpoint and autosave system should have been more flexible. I exited the game midway and had to spend a few minutes re-treading some steps when I rejoined the game later, because it did not trigger the next save checkpoint when I exited. Nevertheless, the overall experience is pleasant. With one cheesy punch line after another, this is a game that keeps you grinning non-stop.

•Verdict: Lego City Undercover is an enjoyable open-world game that lets you roam and go on missions at your own pace.

•Nizam Mohd is a freelance writer

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 24, 2017, with the headline 'The gentle arm of the law in Lego City Undercover'. Print Edition | Subscribe