The last three months have felt like a lifetime. That's how long it's been since the last Wii U big hitters slapped us in the face and made us giggle like children. That in itself may go some way to explaining why the Wii U hasn't had the impact that perhaps it should, but just as Easter is a period of rebirth (and tasty chocolate, obviously), so LEGO City: Undercover represents a reboot - and a boot in the behind - for Nintendo's ailing home console.
Anyone who has read my LEGO Lord Of The Rings review will know what I think of the LEGO film licence games of recent times. They're funny, sure, but they've also become very tired and stuck in their ways. People who announce them to be the best thing since sliced bread have perhaps set their standards a bit low and a few hours with LEGO City: Undercover will help to recalibrate the expectations of even the most stubborn advocates of old.
That LEGO City: Undercover puts a beaming smile on your face within the first minute says a lot about its appeal. A cheesy 1970s cop flick vibe exudes from every seam of this lovingly created LEGO world and you can explore all of it from the word go. Within two minutes you'll be behind the wheel of a patrol car, sirens blazing, GamePad map in hand and without a care in the world other than to explore. It's like Super Mario 64 all over again.
Of course, you have objectives, but the temptation to explore LEGO City itself is, initially at least, far too great to ignore. Eventually, though, you'll realise that you're passing so many locked doors and so many unreachable bonuses that perhaps, just perhaps, you should move the story forwards.
Smash 'N' Grab
Now, let's not get carried away here. LEGO City: Undercover's story isn't going to win any script writing awards, reduce you to tears or make you reconsider your life. That said, it's well paced and is bursting with genuinely funny set pieces that will keep you coming back for more. The story goes that super-cop Chase McCain left LEGO City under a dark cloud, but now he's been called back to track down notorious criminal Rex Fury.
Essentially, then, your job is to catch Rex, but along the way you'll experience the hilarious, the ridiculous and the just plain enjoyable. At no point will you even consider stopping: there is always so much to see and do... and hear.
The sheer amount of narrative is unbelievable. As well as the main story-driven script each character also talks away to themselves and others around them. It all comes together to form a bustling, believable world, rammed with points of interest. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Rewind to five minutes in and you'll have just left the police station to take care of a bank heist organised by, literally, a bunch of clowns. Puns galore ensure. It's all very Point Break and The Dark Knight. Indeed, the dev team begs, steals and borrows from the very best in the entertainment archives and the result is a constant snigger and the odd laugh out loud.
Walking away from the heist, pride very much on show, you're told that being a cop has unexpected benefits. As an upholder of the law you can flag down any vehicle you please before jumping in and taking off. Once again, you can write off the next 20 minutes as you jump from car to van to people carrier to... oh my god, it's a fire engine! The fact that there are dozens upon dozens of different vehicles in the city is one thing, but being able to drive anything you see is quite another.