Originally releasing as a Wii U exclusive in 2013, Lego City Undercover made for one of the console’s best third-party titles, thanks to its ambitious design, humorous tone and eye-pleasing charm. Now, the game makes a surprise return in the form of a beefed up re-release for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch, and the results are equally positive. While this remaster doesn’t represent a huge overhaul over what’s come before, the visual improvements and addition of new features together make a good case for returning to Lego City Undercover, especially if you missed it the first time round.
Though frequently billed as ‘LEGO meets Grand Theft Auto’ by its fans, the reality is that Lego City Undercover is more than just a brick-based, child-friendly take on Rockstar’s seminal crime saga. The main story, in which Detective Chase McCain must dismantle the huge crime wave sweeping across his city, tackles well-worn crime thriller tropes with playful aplomb, consistently firing off satirical jokes and pop-culture references at an impressive frequency. TT Games’ knack for slapstick comedy makes it hard to not be entertained by even the silliest gag, delivered with such verve that even the young ones will find something to laugh about in a winking Dirty Harry spoof or a Shawshank Redemption skit.
While the central adventures of Chase McCain makes for an enjoyable romp, made up of standard fare LEGO gameplay, the real joy of Lego City Undercover is found in its open-world design, whereby players are free to explore the titular metropolis in all its brick-built glory. The several distinct regions and zones which make up the city are replete with side activities to complete, collectibles to discover, currency to accrue and hundreds of vehicles to roam about in. Around every corner lies a new structure to either build, climb or break for studs, and variety of the environments ensures this gameplay loop sustains itself throughout the fifteen or so hours you’ll put into it. What’s more, the newly implemented local cooperative mode allows everything to be enjoyed with a friend, suitably doubling the entertainment value of your open-world exploits.
Even with such accoutrements, however, Lego City Undercover is more or less the same game it was four years ago, and that’s no bad thing. The small refinements and updates are merely there to service an already excellent crime-fighting adventure, which hasn’t lost any of its charm in the delayed transition to the current generation. Play it on the Nintendo Switch for the added bonus of being able to take down a LEGO criminal empire while on the go.