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LEGO City Undercover review

The LEGO game you've waited a lifetime for

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.

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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.

Click to view larger image
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.

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  1. Tommyputt Thursday 28th Mar 2013 at 12:58

    Now you've said all this, and given it a 90%, and Luigis Mansion, I'm gonna be losing my money on payday. #yearofluigi ? more like #yearofstudentloans

  2. imbusydoctorwho Thursday 28th Mar 2013 at 13:40

    Hopefully be picking this up this weekend,been really hyped for this.

  3. john higgleton Thursday 28th Mar 2013 at 14:15

    I've wanted this game ever since E3 2011! I will hopefully pick it up today (unless if it's £50 in GAME, I can't ever imagine buying a game for over £45)...

  4. ivorfran Thursday 28th Mar 2013 at 16:00

    Got this today, cheers Amazon and your free postage !!

    great game so far, but slightly annoyed by painful l.....o....a...d....i...n.....g.......................t.....i......m......e.......s..........

  5. Komodo_Wolfgang Thursday 28th Mar 2013 at 16:47

    (unless if it's £50 in GAME, I can't ever imagine buying a game for over £45)...

    Lmao same, I went in there to see the price of MH on the 3DS and saw that for £50 on the WiiU. I instantly thought, "Its when you pull stunts like that, in an economy like this,that you go bust." I mean, they already did it once but someone saved them (just). Why still go pretty much bang on RRP? I find Morrisons is better for New release games..usualy.

    But yeah, this looks and sounds awesome! I generaly only get saints row and grand theft auto games just to mess around in anyway. I very rarely bother with the missions. This seems like a deffinate must have for me. Making me consider buying a WiiU more and more...


    Still, I hope the 3DS version is similar to this. Whens the review for that coming up?

  6. Buffalo_K Thursday 28th Mar 2013 at 16:54

    I think you guys botched up the header. First essential Wii U game of 2013. Monster Hunter was that, Chandra just reviewed it wrong.

  7. ChandraONM Thursday 28th Mar 2013 at 17:58

    I think you guys botched up the header. First essential Wii U game of 2013. Monster Hunter was that, Chandra just reviewed it wrong.

    No, I didn't. I reviewed it how I experienced it and that is as a good game with significant flaws that will be overlooked by fans of the series. It is in no way essential.

  8. Waldy565 Thursday 28th Mar 2013 at 18:11

    Great review Chandra, as expected from ONM of course. Just enough content without ruining everything. "As an upholder of the law you can flag down any vehicle you please before jumping in and taking off. " - that made me laugh so hard! Even though you "waffled on" about the vechile's, in the LEGO playsets, they are like the main part of the set, therefore they're gonna be integral to the video game haha! Nice to see that TT have made a brilliant game with loads of detail, even though they weren't tied to a film licence (and therefore couldn't butcher it due to fans of that license being outraged...) - This has interested me ever since it's announcement, I'm definitely going to be getting this, and I hope The Chase Begins is just as good, if not better!

  9. Waldy565 Thursday 28th Mar 2013 at 18:15

    [b]Still, I hope the 3DS version is similar to this. Whens the review for that coming up?[b]


    The game releases on the 24th April :)

  10. Wiison Thursday 28th Mar 2013 at 18:21

    I think you guys botched up the header. First essential Wii U game of 2013. Monster Hunter was that, Chandra just reviewed it wrong.

    No, I didn't. I reviewed it how I experienced it and that is as a good game with significant flaws that will be overlooked by fans of the series. It is in no way essential.

    Buffalo K has a point. When Monster Hunter 3 was released on Wii a couple of years back you guys at ONM raved about it. Now ultimate has arrived on Wii U, which is essentially a port of the Wii version, and all of a sudden it's not that great anymore, even though the game has better visuals and extra content. Why is Monster hunter 3 no longer essential? I can't say much really because I haven't played it yet but it is a bit strange that the wii version is praised and the same game on Wii U isn't as essential. This is something I was gonna ask anyway :)

  11. Shinnos Thursday 28th Mar 2013 at 19:05

    Got this today (with the Chase McCain LEGO figure) and enjoying it a lot! Only the fact that my gamepad needed charging stopped me from playing longer. So far been following the main storyline and not really explored the city too much, but will have another go later and look around the world.

    One thing that I was surprised you didn't mention in the review were the loading times which at times are pretty lengthy and took me out of the game slightly.

  12. fatherofthenoo Thursday 28th Mar 2013 at 21:37

    I agree with Chandra's opinion of this game, however he doesn't really highlight the very obvious flaws in this game. I mean, some loading times are a minute long. They are terrible. The vehicles handle very badly as they are oversensitive. The framerate is really bad. Is it even 30fps??? And the visuals really are PS2 quality. Lego Harry Potter looks better!

    Other than those issues, this game is awesome. 75% score for me.

  13. fatherofthenoo Thursday 28th Mar 2013 at 21:42

    Oh and after 30 hours on MH3U I can see the flaws that Chandra pointed out. It has great gameplay, but it does feel clunky, overcomplicated and kind of repetitive. When you stack this game next to Dark Souls you will see how MH3U COULD have been, because they are quite similar except that one feels very last gen. Can you guess which?

  14. fatherofthenoo Thursday 28th Mar 2013 at 21:56

    Buffalo K has a point. When Monster Hunter 3 was released on Wii a couple of years back you guys at ONM raved about it. Now ultimate has arrived on Wii U, which is essentially a port of the Wii version, and all of a sudden it's not that great anymore, even though the game has better visuals and extra content. Why is Monster hunter 3 no longer essential? I can't say much really because I haven't played it yet but it is a bit strange that the wii version is praised and the same game on Wii U isn't as essential. This is something I was gonna ask anyway :)

    The Wii version was praised because it was new. This is pretty much the same game and it plays like it is a few years old too. The issues that the game had have become ever more obvious because games have become more sophisticated since then. That's why the score isn't the same.

  15. OrangeRakoon Thursday 28th Mar 2013 at 22:38

    LEGO City looks good, and I will probably pick it up when I eventually get a WiiU if I can get a pre-owned copy cheap then, which I probably will be able to. It helps towards the threshold of where I will invest into a WiiU, but I'm still not there.

    Buffalo K has a point. When Monster Hunter 3 was released on Wii a couple of years back you guys at ONM raved about it. Now ultimate has arrived on Wii U, which is essentially a port of the Wii version, and all of a sudden it's not that great anymore, even though the game has better visuals and extra content. Why is Monster hunter 3 no longer essential? I can't say much really because I haven't played it yet but it is a bit strange that the wii version is praised and the same game on Wii U isn't as essential. This is something I was gonna ask anyway :)

    The Wii version was praised because it was new. This is pretty much the same game and it plays like it is a few years old too. The issues that the game had have become ever more obvious because games have become more sophisticated since then. That's why the score isn't the same.

    If you use that logic, then the wii version wasn't new either, as it has essentially the same gameplay as all previous MH games. So that doesn't hold up. The thing about MH is that it is very polarising - either you love it and lose countless hundreds of hours to it, or you never really get it. The steep learning curve and the initial build up into the proper quests is probably a main contribution towards that, but you also need to be playing it right - in multiplayer where you are all at a similar point, and with a variety of weapon load-outs (with a weapon you enjoy using, too). Reviewers often can't replicate that experience (understandably so).

  16. fatherofthenoo Thursday 28th Mar 2013 at 23:03

    I get that, but a game like Dark Souls (which borrows a lot from MH) has shown us how a game like MH hasn't really been evolving with the tech and it is starting to catch up with it now. It isn't about the marmite nature of the game. It just doesn't play as well as it should based on the technical capabilities of the system.

  17. CraigEmberson Thursday 28th Mar 2013 at 23:30

    (unless if it's £50 in GAME, I can't ever imagine buying a game for over £45)...

    Lmao same, I went in there to see the price of MH on the 3DS and saw that for £50 on the WiiU. I instantly thought, "Its when you pull stunts like that, in an economy like this,that you go bust." I mean, they already did it once but someone saved them (just). Why still go pretty much bang on RRP? I find Morrisons is better for New release games..usualy.

    But yeah, this looks and sounds awesome! I generaly only get saints row and grand theft auto games just to mess around in anyway. I very rarely bother with the missions. This seems like a deffinate must have for me. Making me consider buying a WiiU more and more...


    Still, I hope the 3DS version is similar to this. Whens the review for that coming up?


    Ummm... I'm not sure you understand this. MH3U on Wii U is an HD game, when it still costs a lot to make an HD game. It's also got more features. I feel like people are so hopeful for low prices, they don't see the realistic business side of things.

  18. Argenthor Friday 29th Mar 2013 at 14:44


    No, I didn't. I reviewed it how I experienced it and that is as a good game with significant flaws that will be overlooked by fans of the series. It is in no way essential.


    Buffalo K has a point. When Monster Hunter 3 was released on Wii a couple of years back you guys at ONM raved about it. Now ultimate has arrived on Wii U, which is essentially a port of the Wii version, and all of a sudden it's not that great anymore, even though the game has better visuals and extra content. Why is Monster hunter 3 no longer essential? I can't say much really because I haven't played it yet but it is a bit strange that the wii version is praised and the same game on Wii U isn't as essential. This is something I was gonna ask anyway :)

    Firstly, I played it and it just isn't something I enjoy... but the main thing is that just because something is really good 2 years ago doesn't mean it will be now. Especially as it is a re-release, for it to be 'just as essential' it would need to feel like more than the game you played before! Playing OoT on the 3ds, I did not feel like I was playing a N64 game.

  19. OrangeRakoon Friday 29th Mar 2013 at 18:19

    but the main thing is that just because something is really good 2 years ago doesn't mean it will be now.

    Only if you played the game first time round and need to justify re-visiting it with improved or extra content. If you haven't already played the game, then it will be just as good as it was 2 years ago.

  20. fatherofthenoo Friday 29th Mar 2013 at 20:58

    but the main thing is that just because something is really good 2 years ago doesn't mean it will be now.

    Only if you played the game first time round and need to justify re-visiting it with improved or extra content. If you haven't already played the game, then it will be just as good as it was 2 years ago.

    Thing is, in those two years, other games in this genre have helped it (the genre) to evolve, e.g. tighter controls, greater variety, improved visuals and sound, enhanced and more original use of on-line infrastructure, etc.

    Don't get me wrong, I am really enjoying Ultimate. But after having played the evolutions in the genre, Ultimate's flaws become very apparent and it does feel clunky and dated. The excuse that some people make of "that's MH" are utter nonsense. The previous MH games were limited by the technology, it has nothing to do with the game itself, so there is no excuse for current versions to play like games from years ago.

    I am hopeful that Capcom will see that there is demand for a home console version of MH and will finally bring us a brand new version that can compete with the genre's best.

  21. Wiison Friday 29th Mar 2013 at 22:01

    Firstly, I played it and it just isn't something I enjoy... but the main thing is that just because something is really good 2 years ago doesn't mean it will be now. Especially as it is a re-release, for it to be 'just as essential' it would need to feel like more than the game you played before! Playing OoT on the 3ds, I did not feel like I was playing a N64 game.

    I'm sorry but I disagree with that. I still play Gamecube, GBA, and PS1 games regularly and those are well over 2 years old! Then you said you played Ocarina of Time 3D and enjoyed it, that game is 15 years old. Anyway this isn't what I was mainly highlighting, what I don't understand is that ONM have pointed out significant flaws that they didn't when they reviewed it a couple of years back, why? It's the same game, so why not highlight them a couple of years back? I haven't played it yet so does the Wii review and score apply to newcomers like me? Does the Wii U review only apply to those who have already played the game?

  22. OrangeRakoon Saturday 30th Mar 2013 at 13:48

    Thing is, in those two years, other games in this genre have helped it (the genre) to evolve, e.g. tighter controls, greater variety, improved visuals and sound, enhanced and more original use of on-line infrastructure, etc.

    Don't get me wrong, I am really enjoying Ultimate. But after having played the evolutions in the genre, Ultimate's flaws become very apparent and it does feel clunky and dated. The excuse that some people make of "that's MH" are utter nonsense. The previous MH games were limited by the technology, it has nothing to do with the game itself, so there is no excuse for current versions to play like games from years ago.

    I am hopeful that Capcom will see that there is demand for a home console version of MH and will finally bring us a brand new version that can compete with the genre's best.

    Out of interest, what games are you thinking of that are in the same genre as MH? Having played the PSP MH games and Tri, similar games of the genre I would say are Gods Eater Burst, White Knight Chronicles Origins and Lord of Arcana (which I have played) and Phantasy Star Portable which I haven't played. I would definitely say MH is still the best and most refined of those games, and I can't think of anything else as similar. The PSP Valkyria Chronicles games, and even MGS: Peace Walker, borrow elements, but are still very different.

    I'm not saying there aren't improvements to MH that can be made (and yes there are quite a lot), but I don't think it's been left behind at all, in that there still isn't much out there like it.

  23. fatherofthenoo Saturday 30th Mar 2013 at 15:36

    In my opinion, Demon's Souls, Dark Souls and Dragon's Dogma are examples of the evolution of the genre. Deep Down for PS4 also looks like it could be another entry into the genre with the demo showing multiple players taking on a Dragon.

    Sorry, I come across as having nothing good to say about Monster Hunter. I do enjoy it very much. I just feel that it could benefit from taking advantage of the power available on home consoles to bring it up to scratch with current games.

  24. S0raBuzz Sunday 31st Mar 2013 at 19:44

    I've wanted this game ever since E3 2011! I will hopefully pick it up today (unless if it's £50 in GAME, I can't ever imagine buying a game for over £45)...

    I bought my copy from Shopto.net for about £38 (the limited edition version with the mini figure), that was the cheapest I could find.

  25. Greene-Stuff Thursday 4th Apr 2013 at 14:07

    Honestly, with all these great games, I'm going to have to ask for a student loan, so much money will be spent!

  26. CaptainBooom Sunday 7th Apr 2013 at 15:39

    This is a brilliant game, hours of enjoyment. Yes the steering is a bit sensitive, but as you play on you do get used to it. Yes the loading time are an issue, but in such a massive world it isn't surprising. All i can say is i am just so glad i bought this game. I don't think I have ever laughed so much at a game before. Brilliant for adults and children alike.

    Also stop arguing about Monster Hunter on a review for LEGO city!!

  27. bigterence Monday 8th Apr 2013 at 17:49

    Played more Lego Undercover than any other of current Wiiu games.Amazing,funny,great use of gamepad.In my opinion this is a must-have for any Wiiu owner.Amazing..have I said that ? yes.And it Needs to be said .

  28. squatch Sunday 28th Apr 2013 at 17:46

    I have the 3DS version of this.
    Its a lot of fun to play, theres quite a lot of fog in the game, and long load times, but still worth picking up :D

  29. alinktodapast Tuesday 30th Apr 2013 at 06:30

    i am soooooo aditicted to this currently :shock:

  30. ultimatebuffalo Saturday 4th May 2013 at 15:15

    i like how people claim that a game that can barely run properly on the machine 'amazing'' its ok but the choppiness stops it from being as good as it should be. hoping this gets released on steam or something so won;t have to deal with the awful load times or chugging slow graphics.

    MH would look amazing on ps4.

  31. Chuckkle8 Monday 6th May 2013 at 23:52

    I love this game! It's so much better than the 3DS version... and a lot prettier too! :') I much prefer it to the previous games, and driving around smashing stuff is great fun.

  32. jamez62982 Sunday 7th Jul 2013 at 21:06

    Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate is a great 90+% game. We knew it'd be an HD port version of the Wii game with A LOT OF new content. I am new to the series having 150 hrs into the game and still loving playing multiplayer with 3 friends of mine (by the way one of them had over 500 hrs in the Wii version and is already 250 hrs into this, so yeah it's a great game no matter what). Of course it has its flaws but they are the same flaws MH Tri had... Overall this is one of the two must have Wii U only games so far (the other one being Zombi U, kudos to Chandra for his review). Still I have to play Lego City though...

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