Let’s be honest. The Wii U needed this.
As great as games like Mario, Batman, Mass Effect and Call Of Duty are, it needed a release
that wasn’t just an old port or another Mario. It needed something fresh, something
new, something exclusive… And something good. Rejoice, Wii U owners. LEGO City is all of
those things. Finally released this week to the Wii U, LEGO
City: Undercover represents a major turning point for the LEGO games. It breaks from the
LEGO standard, it doesn’t have a huge mega-franchise attached to it…and it was published by Nintendo.
In fact, it’s also a turning point for Nintendo. Or at least…so they hope. Because as great
as some of the Wii U’s games have been, it could really use more of this. You play as Chase McCain. He plays the all-star
cop. You know the type—great hair, dreamy smile, played by some rugged actor. Kind of
a familiar character, but that’s one of the best things about LEGO City. It takes
inspiration—uh, and at times, even actual lines—from all kinds of movies and television
shows. In fact, it may not be about Star Wars or
Batman per the LEGO usual, but that’s exactly what makes it so good. Not only is it refreshing
to have that characteristic LEGO humor and charm in an original story with original characters,
but it’s also a fun story with fun characters. It’s a world that’s just really easy to
get lost in. I mean, metaphorically. You actually have
a map. What’s fitting about LEGO City is that…much
like LEGO, it’s just this bucket of ideas poured onto the floor. And that also applies
to the gameplay. This is all the things you love about LEGO games snapped onto a huge
green baseplate of Grand Theft Auto. LEGO City isn’t as massive, but its open world
is still packed with people to meet, secrets to find and those shiny LEGO studs to collect. I mean, you can’t not go after those things.
They freaking glisten! Now, the missions and story are good fun…but
really, just wandering around the city is fun on its own. And part of that is because
so much of it is destructible. You can smash anything made from LEGO and collect the pieces…which
you can use to create more useful things. Pads that magically spawn cars, reliable sea
vessels…hey, fortunately, you know a captain! A trustworthy ol’ sea dog! Of course, the game isn’t without its issues.
And chief among them, LEGO City is constantly interrupting your fun with really annoying
loading times. The progress bars come one after another, each one more annoying than
the one before. It’s not enough to ruin things, but it does break up the experience…and
not in a good way. Of course, there’s also an inherent degree of repetition…but there’s
so much to do in LEGO City that, even when it gets a little repetitive, it never stops
being fun. I think it’s fair to say that…recent LEGO
games were getting stale. Predictability was setting in, and as it often does, tedium seemed
to follow. But simply placing the LEGO concepts—the crushing, creating and compulsively collecting—into
a new framework, that of open-world action game…it’s just brilliant. It’s fun,
it’s charming… And it’s just what the Wii U needed. It’s LEGO City for the Nintendo Wii U.