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LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins review

Experience Chase McCain's first, less exciting adventure

Last month we sang the praises of LEGO City: Undercover, deeming it essential for anyone with a Wii U. It's not the only title featuring Chase McCain: he also stars in this 3DS adventure. Unfortunately, it never manages to scale the heady heights reached by its bigger brother on Wii U.

The Chase Begins - see what's happened there? - is a prequel to Undercover and turns back the clock in order to explain how the rookie cop became a legend in the LEGO City police force (earning him the devoted love of Frank Honey) and how he put Rex Fury behind bars - a tale only briefly mentioned in Undercover's intro.

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It's little wonder Chase doesn't feel a sense of déjà vu during Undercover, because much of the stuff he gets up to in The Chase Begins is similar to what happens in the Wii U game. You'll still be dressing up as a construction worker, a crook, a farmer and all those other daft disguises from Undercover. You'll still be visiting Albatross Island, the docks and various other locations featured in the later game. Sure, the missions you'll be undertaking are different, but the game often feels very familiar.

AWOL LOLs

You might think that would be a bad thing, but it isn't really. After all, Undercover is a great game and TT Fusion has bravely tried to recreate its vast open world on the less powerful 3DS. Unfortunately, it failed to replicate another key component of the Wii U game: the comedy.

The Chase Begins has far less funnier bones than Undercover. The silly jokes, clever spoofs and brilliant dialogue between the characters have been replaced with a handful of average cutscenes and loads of text-heavy dialogue which, while functional, are rarely amusing and never hilarious.

The lack of voice acting in all but a few scenes is disappointing and the text boxes stay onscreen for so long (and can't be advanced with the A button) that the script becomes more annoying than entertaining, which is a great shame, considering the Wii U game's laugh-packed chats. It says a lot when a scene in which a pig tries to drive away in a tractor doesn't raise so much as a smirk.

This isn't the only disappointment in The Chase Begins. Loading times were frustrating enough in LEGO City: Undercover but are even more infuriating here considering the game's running off a cartridge and is designed for handheld play. We entered a loading screen while leaving one London Underground station and - no word of a lie - the loading had only just stopped by the time we arrived at the next station.

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Throw in the fact that these lengthy load times don't just appear at the start of the game but also appear during the open-world section when you're walking into a new region and you've got a few frustrating waits on your hands.

It's lacking visually, too. That the less powerful 3DS wouldn't quite be able to make LEGO City the vibrant, bustling city it is on the Wii U is perfectly understandable, but we didn't expect it to look like Silent Hill. Thick fog (to hide having to render distant buildings) smothers the city and roads and pavements are far less crowded, making it feel like you're wandering around a post-apocalyptic LEGO City. The characters' faces don't move, making in-game cutscenes feel awkward and the frame rate is clunky if you're playing in 3D (it holds up better in 2D, though).

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  1. Waldy565 Monday 29th Apr 2013 at 11:17

    Wow, I mean, I heard the negativity in the review, but wasn't expecting a score that low! "text-heavy dialogue" - yeah, that will absoloutley cut the comedy down to zero. It's like reading a comedian's script, the comedian makes them words funny, you reading it will make it 70%, at least, less funny. Glad I read this though, I'll definetley pick up the Wii U version now. As you've said, kudos for them trying to squeeze LEGO City into the 3DS, but it would never work. TT need to realize, if they're gonna make a 3DS LEGO game, it can't be a poor port of the home console games, it needs to be a different game all together (especially if they're getting use to the Wii U, the 3DS can't handle that kind of power)!

  2. BritishSandvich Monday 29th Apr 2013 at 11:20

    It's quite a shame that it has turned out being like this :( I was unable to play the WiiU version (because I can't afford a WiiU yet) and was looking forward to being able to play it on my 3DS. However, after reading this review, I think I'm now going to wait until my games retailer is either having a sale or the overall price of the game drops.

  3. radabie86 Monday 29th Apr 2013 at 11:32

    im getting this later on today to take advantage of the 'all these games' offer. i got Luigi's Mansion when it first came out, im gonna get Animal Crossing the day it comes out so i can then download Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D for free when its released :) A bit of a shame about the low-ish score :( but still should be fun plus the kids can play it on the 3DS instead of them playing lego city on Wii U and stopping me watching TV :)

  4. imbusydoctorwho Monday 29th Apr 2013 at 11:52

    This'll probably be the game I choose to download for free.

  5. Shinnos Monday 29th Apr 2013 at 11:55

    I'm actually surprised that they tried to replicate the Wii U's open world, rather than making this more of a traditional LEGO game with a series of missions, which would have probably worked better on the 3DS.

    I already have (and love) LEGO City on the Wii U so I wasn't really planning on picking this up as I'm still ploughing through that trying to get a 100% achievement, and despite the different missions available here, I think the world would be a bit too familiar.

    I guess it's good that this is available for those without a Wii U though.

  6. tomonm Monday 29th Apr 2013 at 12:29

    im getting this later on today to take advantage of the 'all these games' offer. i got Luigi's Mansion when it first came out, im gonna get Animal Crossing the day it comes out so i can then download Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D for free when its released :) A bit of a shame about the low-ish score :( but still should be fun plus the kids can play it on the 3DS instead of them playing lego city on Wii U and stopping me watching TV :)

    I'm playing Fire Emblem Awakening at the moment and I really can't recommend that enough. It's brilliant, accessible (i'm no hardcore strategy fan) and it will last you a very long time. I would recommend you buy that or maybe even Castlevania.

  7. DragonEleven Monday 29th Apr 2013 at 12:30

    This game would definitely have benefitted from being released before the Wii U version.

  8. ledreppe Monday 29th Apr 2013 at 12:40

    I thought I'd first check to see who was reviewing the game. When I saw it was Chris Scullion, I thought yeah he's going to be hard on like he is with all LEGO games. He admitted he was tired of them in a podcast once, so I didn't expect a good score.

    I think the game deserves at least 70. I admit that it's not as good as the Wii U version, but the fact this is a prequel and has a brand new story is enough to justify the purchase.

    As for saying that it's still enjoyable for little kids who haven't played GTA, I'm 34 and I haven't played GTA but still enjoyed Lego City 3DS! Are you calling me a kid?

    I would say to anyone who has played or is thinking of playing the Wii U version to also get the 3DS version, as together they make the complete package.

    This review is only really relevant to anyone who is only thinking of getting the 3DS version and doesn't have (or isn't planning on getting) a Wii U.

  9. MatthewONM Monday 29th Apr 2013 at 12:44

    This review is only really relevant to anyone who is only thinking of getting the 3DS version and doesn't have (or isn't planning on getting) a Wii U.


    I disagree. If anything, the game's flaws are accentuated if you've played the Wii U version. I found the 3DS version to be far more inferior having played Undercover - I'd already seen all the disguises/powers, had explored the locations (in non-foggy form) and spent 40 hours collecting costumes and the like. In light of this, I think TCB is a bit of a disaster - they'd have been far better off making a standalone game that plays to the strengths of the 3DS.

  10. Time-Bomb Monday 29th Apr 2013 at 16:04

    I guess i'll have to late fate decide which i buy between this and Castlevania for that Club Nintendo promotion (so that i can get AC for free!). I'll just take whichever one's cheaper come the deadline. Luigi's Mansion will be my first purchase in a while when exams are over! :D

  11. SuperMario24 Monday 29th Apr 2013 at 16:12

    It's unfair that you are judging this game compared to the content-loaded Wii U version that (by the way), is very large and was expected to be good from the moment it was announced. The Wii U game was filled to the brim with everything that TT Games could think of which (in turn) left The Chase Begins with hardly anything.

  12. SuperMario24 Monday 29th Apr 2013 at 16:13

    I guess i'll have to late fate decide which i buy between this and Castlevania for that Club Nintendo promotion (so that i can get AC for free!). I'll just take whichever one's cheaper come the deadline. Luigi's Mansion will be my first purchase in a while when exams are over! :D


    I'm the same way about the Club Nintendo promotion.

  13. Wyraachur Monday 29th Apr 2013 at 19:38

    In all honesty, I'm gonna head into this game with an open mind. I had a right laugh with the Wii U title, and even if it's not as good as that one, as long as it generates some laughs and keeps me entertained, then I'm happy.

    Plus I can't complain too much - buying this title helped me get Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Gates to Infinity for nothing in that 3DS promotion XD

  14. fisher2007 Monday 29th Apr 2013 at 21:03

    It's quite a shame that it has turned out being like this and could of be a great game on the handheld. :(

  15. BattleGooseUK Tuesday 30th Apr 2013 at 02:17

    My fiancee is playing it right now, she's already completed it and thinks it's great (She's a huge LEGO game fan, has all of them) She was interested in getting it after she watched my play LEGO City Undercover on the Wii U. She agrees that the game is inferior to the Wii U version due to the limitations but says that it's still really good fun still. I've had a go and I must admit it's quite impressive but it's best for those who don't have the Wii U version already.

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

    i wish the render distance was better definatly not buying this one

  17. ledreppe Thursday 2nd May 2013 at 08:04

    This review is only really relevant to anyone who is only thinking of getting the 3DS version and doesn't have (or isn't planning on getting) a Wii U.


    I disagree. If anything, the game's flaws are accentuated if you've played the Wii U version. I found the 3DS version to be far more inferior having played Undercover - I'd already seen all the disguises/powers, had explored the locations (in non-foggy form) and spent 40 hours collecting costumes and the like. In light of this, I think TCB is a bit of a disaster - they'd have been far better off making a standalone game that plays to the strengths of the 3DS.


    I have played both versions, and I still think it's worth playing both as they form the complete story of Chase McCain rising from rookie cop to detective. Despite the shortcomings of the 3DS version, it's still worth playing even if it's just for the story.

  18. kallymsmarties Friday 3rd May 2013 at 15:00

    Such a shame about this game because the only problem I felt I has was the facial expressions was all the same and then the lack of speech during missions so they aren't as funny as they should be. I would love Frank Honey to have a game of his own! :lol:

  19. koopa_kicker Wednesday 15th May 2013 at 11:17

    I would love Frank Honey to have a game of his own! :lol:


    Chapter 1...
    Mission Objectives:
    -Open Door To Leave Lego PD- FAILED
    -Drive Quickly To Destination- FAILED (Additional Notes: Got Lost Along Way)
    -Arrest Thieves- FAILED (Additional Notes: Accidently Arrested Backup Cops Instead )
    -Demoted To Janitor- SUCCESS
    -Clean Up Lego PD & Put All Rubbish In Bin- SUCCESS? (Additional Notes: May Have Also Disposed Of All Important Documents & The Chief's Donuts)
    -Chief Puts Bounty On Your Head- SUCCESS
    -Tell Chief You Can't See Anything On Your Head- SUCCESS
    -Get Bailed Out By Your Ultra Rich Parents- SUCCESS!!!
    Chapter 2...

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