Review: Lego City Undercover (Switch)

Does Chase McCain’s debut appearance still hold up?

By Marc Deschamps. Posted 06/01/2017 09:15 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
1-Up Mushroom for...
Portability is a big bonus; vast open-world; good sense of humor
Poison Mushroom for...
Glitchy at times; gameplay isn't much different from other Lego games; load times can be a little long

In 2013, Nintendo, TT Games and Warner Bros. released Lego City Undercover to strong critical acclaim. Now, like so many other Wii U titles of late, Lego City Undercover has made the jump to Switch. The change of platform will likely help the game find a bigger audience, but a handful of bugs prevent the overall package from feeling as fresh as it did four years ago.

In Lego City Undercover, players take on the role of Chase McCain, exploring a sprawling open-world while making arrests and attempting to solve a mystery. Past Lego titles have required swapping between different characters in order to solve puzzles, but Lego City instead puts the entire game’s focus on McCain in the main story mode. Throughout the game’s levels, players will unlock different outfits for Chase, which grant him new abilities. When Chase goes undercover as a burglar, he can crack safes. When he takes on the role of a Miner, he can use dynamite. It’s a little less exciting than swapping between characters like Batman and Superman, but the different outfits are still clever and varied.

As a police officer, Chase can also commandeer any vehicle, and different vehicles have different top speeds and handling. There’s a certain satisfaction that comes from swapping between them and finding the one that’s most appealing. Motorcycles can zip through the city, while tractor-trailers are slower and require more precise turns. While the city itself is large, navigation is fairly simple, thanks to a trail of green studs that help guide players to their next destination.

Though the game contains an impressive number of vehicles, WB Games probably should have considered adding a Pest Control Truck, as the game has a handful of irritating bugs. The audio, in particular, is where the game has some of its most notable issues. Glitches hamper what would otherwise be a strong aural experience. At the start of the game, the timing of the character’s mouths doesn’t match the voice work. While the problem seemed to be isolated to the first chapter, at the end of another chapter, voice work ceased completely. As a result, I missed part of the story, and had no way of going back to watch it again.

The audio isn’t the only glitch I encountered on my playthrough. The game overall can be a bit buggy. Once, while trying to rush through a driving mission on my second attempt, I switched vehicles a little too early, and the game wouldn’t allow me to either complete or fail the mission. As a result, the entire mission had to be restarted. Fortunately, it didn’t take much effort to get back to that point, but these small glitches added up over time, making the entire package feel a bit rushed. Glitches like these are all the more frustrating given the game’s curiously long load times.

The jump from Wii U to Switch does, however, highlight one of the Switch’s greatest features. One of the more frustrating issues with Lego games on Wii U was the length of each level. Some took far longer than they should have, and not every game offered mid-level save points. The 3DS Lego titles side-stepped the issue by offering shorter levels which were easier to play on-the-go. Lego City on Switch, fortunately, manages to offer the exact same experience as other consoles in a portable format without that issue. The Switch’s sleep mode makes it simple to jump in and out of the game no matter what point players choose to leave off. Switching carts will of course negate progress, but it should come as an extremely welcome addition, particularly for parents trying to get their kids to turn off the game without losing progress.

As with every Lego release thus far, humor plays a major role in the title, particularly in the way it satirizes films. The plot is very much a parody of cop movie clichés, but the game also pokes fun at films like The Matrix and The Shawshank Redemption, as well. It’s a mix that would only make sense in a Lego game, but somehow it works. At times, the jokes can be groan-inducing, but it’s hard not to smile and appreciate the innocence and strength of the writing.

The biggest hurdle for Lego City Undercover comes from the large number of Lego offerings on the market. While the title was the first Lego game on Wii U, Lego Marvel Super Heroes, Lego Jurassic World, Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens and many more titles saw release throughout the console’s lifespan. In addition, most of these games had 3DS iterations, as well! Despite the fact that most of the Lego titles have offered strong overall quality, some fans felt that there was an overabundance of games available, particularly when the gameplay has only slightly varied between releases. That said, while mileage may vary, Chase McCain might feel a bit generic when a Lego title starring Baby Groot will appear on Switch later this year.

Lego City Undercover is a solid offering from Warner Bros. and TT Games. It doesn’t offer an experience all that different from previous Lego titles, but the jump to the Switch hardware does make it a step up from many other Wii U and 3DS Lego offerings. The game does suffer from some technical warts, but for those that never made the trip to Lego City, this is certainly the best way to experience it.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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