Review: LEGO City Undercover for Xbox One
Building a better LEGO City.
In a bit of a surprise move, Warner Bros. Interactive recently opted to release not one, but two LEGO video games only a month apart. Following the release of the somewhat Minecraft-esque LEGO Worlds, Chase McCain is back with a new multiplatform release of LEGO City Undercover.
This title was released previously as a Wii U exclusive, which I reviewed at the time. Given that this is basically the same game, I strongly urge you to read said review if you’re not already familiar with it. For this article, I’m focusing on the changes which have been made, many of which actually address grievances I had with the Wii U version.
First and foremost, the elephant in LEGO City Undercover‘s room was the lack of multiplayer, which has more or less been a staple of LEGO games going as far back as the early LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game. Second players have always (or almost always — I’m immediately unaware of any exceptions) had the ability to drop in and out as they please to lend a hand to the first, which has often proven particularly handy in the instances where a parent or other more-experienced gamer has wanted to help a younger/less-experienced player out without directly taking the controller away.
On the upside, that is no longer a glaring omission. On the downside, while other games typically give Player 2 another character to control, this time they simply have to make do with a second Chase McCain. Still, the various costumes and their respective skills (plus costume customization) that are acquired throughout the course of the game will allow any daring duos to differentiate themselves to some degree, even if they’re still playing the same guy.
With that said, you might not find the same level of teamwork satisfaction here, as it is still inserted into what was originally a single-player game. It’s a nice inclusion and a definite improvement, but is more of a token gesture than anything truly redefining over the original game.
Another significant element of the Wii U title was the use of the system’s eponymous GamePad for various features. Stuff like map and communication was cool to have on a second screen, but having to use the built-in gyroscope to look around when scanning for criminal activity was a bit of a pain. Its use was partly charming, partly cumbersome.
As one would expect, the new version basically consolidates everything into a more traditional setup. You can pull up your map at the press of a button, while a mini-map is inset into the lower-left corner of the television screen, and communications pop up in the lower-right. Meanwhile, the gyroscope stuff just pops up on the television as needed, and you can use the left analog stick to look around — just like I asked for!
At least, this holds true for the Xbox One version, which I reviewed, and I would imagine Steam as well. Seeing as the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch both features gyroscopes in their controllers, it’s possible those could still use them for this, though I’d think Traveller’s Tales would be more likely to give this version uniform functionality across the board. (If you know for sure, feel free to leave a comment!)
Cute as it was, I can’t say I missed the GamePad functionality all that much while playing this new version.
There was one other glaring issue I had with the original game, and it’s been addressed. Well, sort of. From my review:
I will be very blunt here: This game has the worst load times I’ve seen since the PlayStation (or maybe the PlayStation 2). If anything takes you out of the game, it’s the load times, which can take up to a minute to finish.
Fortunately, if you’re careful, they tend to be rather infrequent. Inexplicably, there’s a bit of a wait for the title screen, and when you’ve chosen your file, another loading screen to start the game. If you go into a mission, the LEGO City P.D., or a cutscene, that’s more loading, though those are usually less frequent and some go more quickly than others.
Worse than the load times, though, is that there is really very little to help you pass the time while they go on. You have a spinning badge on the television and a status bar on the GamePad, with one of the aforementioned cop tunes playing all the while– and you’ll probably be sick of it before long.
At the very least, there could have been something else, anything else during these transitions. Why not some funny art of these LEGO characters doing silly LEGO things? That would have made them more bearable.
The good news is that they took my advice!
While it pleases me to know they apparently listened to me (in spirit, if not literally), the fact remains that if the load times aren’t as bad as ever, the difference is nigh imperceivable. Even going to the title screen still calls upon a wait, as do the aforementioned scenarios, which are again thankfully infrequent.
But at least you’ve got more going on than a spinning badge this time! Going to the title screen presents you with a series of humorous post cards from different LEGO locales, such as the one seen above. During in-game loading sequences, you’ll be treated to a variety of humorously-delivered tips to aid you in playing the game.
It’s not an enormous difference, but still a definite improvement over what was going on in the original game, and for that I thank TT Games for their inclusion.
All in all, LEGO City Undercover was already a fine game for the Wii U which featured a few areas for improvement. And while they aren’t extensive, the improvements in those areas are nonetheless welcome here, making a good game even better — even if only by a small measure.
That said, unless you have a particularly strong affinity for the Wii U GamePad, then this the most definitive version of the game to date. At the same time, if you already own the Wii U version, it’s up to you to decide if what’s been added is worth double-dipping.
LEGO City Undercover was released for the Xbox One (reviewed), Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and PC on Tuesday, April 4th, 2017 at a price of $69.99.
A review code was provided by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.
David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.