I am one of those people who has not appreciated any of the Lego games to date. I’ve played a few of the Batman and Star Wars titles, however none of them grabbed me. Why? I’m not sure. There are some games that I don’t appreciate, but I love to watch them. However, I don’t even like to do that with the Lego titles. Lego City Undercover is a completely different monster and for some reason I’m really enjoying myself… and now I’m going for 100% completion. (I’ve got it now.) Why does this game grab me while the others failed to garner a smile? Let’s break it down shall we?
What sets Lego City Undercover apart from the others? I’d hate to say it’s the open-world aspect because that seems like a go-to method now a days in opposition to linear gameplay. I know linear can feel limiting at times, but games used to do it all the time when I was a youngster and I enjoyed it. I can understand the desire to have a giant world to run amok in, but as I said, there were plenty of games that you had to fight level by level to get to the end and it worked well. Why does this amount of freedom make such a difference? For me, it was story continuity. It helped the story flow more than going to a hub world were you walk by a wall of level portals. It broke the immersion for me even in stories that I knew. This isn’t all of the Lego games from what I understand, but the ones that I did play put me off because of that. In Lego City Undercover, the levels are part of the world and while exploring and following the story line, the game leads you to these levels and it all feels very natural.
The humor is also just so bad that it’s great! My favorite level has to be the construction yard where you get the Arnold Schwarzenegger-esque foreman yelling at you. There are so many references to a ton of his movies thrown at you in a horrible pun-tastic way that it makes me smile just thinking about it. The whole game has great lines throughout and it was honestly a joy to play through. While the jokes were great, some of the lines weren’t voiced extremely well. I only say that because most of it was so good that when a line comes up and is read like they don’t care, it really stands out.
Is Lego City Undercover simply a GTA for children? I would say not completely. The main differences are the lack of real violence, sex and foul language. On a similar note, you can shoot random people with lasers, run them over with cars after steal… I mean commandeering them and take stuff that is clearly in other people’s houses. This doesn’t seem to be painting the wholesome image most people may have of this game, but let’s be real. Link’s been taking money from people’s houses since the 80’s. Everyone is either arrested or gets back up from their interactions with the protagonist Chase McCain. My inner paladin can still sleep at night because in the end, you are a good guy unlike GTA where you are clearly the bad guy.
Unlocking all the jobs was probably my least favorite part about Lego City Undercover. I don’t mind having to work for something, but it was different here. You can’t complete levels in the 100% fashion without all of the jobs. The biggest problem here is that the tasks are crazy obvious and very simple! You can see what you need to do and know that you can’t and this frustrated me. Knowing that I needed a certain skill and then having to wait to receive it at the end of the game only to come back to the very first level again was irritating. Starting the game off with telling the player that there will be plenty of backtracking is not my favorite method of gameplay. I would have preferred the objectives to be more hidden or inaccessible. I had to come to terms with that fact early on and having watched my wife play the game a little ahead of me helped prepare the way. Normally I’m not one for backtracking, but as I mentioned it above, the humor made the replaying of levels enjoyable enough the second or third time around even if I didn’t want to at times.
Further Reading For Lego City Undercover: Official Site