LEGO City Undercover (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Shane Jury 11.04.2017

Review for LEGO City Undercover on Nintendo Switch

Since creating a surprise hit with LEGO Star Wars way back in the PlayStation 2 era, developer Traveller's Tales has adapted the blocky brand and gameplay style to a vast number of properties, including Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, and even superheroes like Batman. Each game tends to welcome players of all ages with simple controls, puzzles that involve building items with straightforward gestures, and co-operative play. One of Nintendo's biggest offerings early on in the Wii U's brief lifespan was a new take on this concept minus the co-op, LEGO City Undercover, which has been reviewed favourably by Cubed3, and has now gone multiformat for all current-gen machines. Still the building blocks of genius, or one loading screen too many?

LEGO City Undercover begins with the introduction of Chase McCain, a police officer returning after a long absence. He is tasked with apprehending a dangerous criminal that has escaped from prison, which he happened to arrest many years ago. Told through excellently voiced cutscenes, this narrative spans the entire game and is the backdrop to all of Chase's excursions throughout the city.

Adapting a Grand Theft Auto-like open world, LEGO City Undercover operates on the right side of the law with a child-friendly LEGO exterior. Cars are borrowed for police emergencies instead of stolen, pedestrians brush off being run over as a minor inconvenience, and guns have more of a laser pistol aesthetic to them than bullets. This world is huge, and, much like its inspiration, requires a lengthy load when jumping into from a boot up. Luckily, this wait time is diminished by a third from the minute plus of the original version, and the screen now has a LEGO model to spin around and character quotes to read instead of the non-interactive spinning police badge of old.

Screenshot for LEGO City Undercover on Nintendo Switch

The game is broken up into chapters, and at times there are levels separate from the rest of the city, like a scrapyard or prison, but outside of these the entire map is free to explore. As the story progresses, Chase can gain new disguises that offer unique abilities, and it is these that allow for puzzle solving and new item collection, like the robber uniform equipped with a handy crowbar, or the miner disguise that features a pickaxe and dynamite-handling skills. Each of these can be switched on the fly with the shoulder buttons or a scroll wheel, and replaying completed levels is encouraged when gaining new skills. Essentially every character in the game can be played as upon unlocking as a form of disguise.

The two main collectables are the incredibly common LEGO studs that act as currency, and are the key to purchasing new characters and vehicles to use, and LEGO bricks, that are the literal building blocks of certain parts of the game. These can be found by breaking up environmental objects, as well as locating large shiny LEGO pieces in the world that boost the overall number significantly. Chase's communicator functions help greatly with locating treasure, be it scanning, taking pictures, or just the overall map, and being assigned to the D-pad buttons provides quick access to these features.

Screenshot for LEGO City Undercover on Nintendo Switch

Now being on Nintendo Switch gives this version of LEGO City Undercover the portable edge over its higher-powered variants, and even helps to bypass the loading screen annoyance with careful use of the sleep mode functionality. Even the Nintendo-related secrets are still in the game and it is the only version to have them.

The game looks great on the Switch screen at a 720p resolution, and even goes up to a full 1080p in docked mode, but does suffer from a slightly choppy framerate at times, more noticeable on the small screen; never enough to be a hindrance to overall gameplay, but difficult to ignore.

Screenshot for LEGO City Undercover on Nintendo Switch

Upon the initial reveal of the retail case, many were shocked to see what looked like a massive required download patch that seemed to house the vast majority of the actual game, in what many theorised as a way to use a smaller card memory as a money saving tactic. Thankfully, that was indeed a box error as publisher Warner Bros stated, and the full game is on the card, with only a small downloadable patch to help iron out some rough corners.

Although LEGO City Undercover was initially made as a single-player game, this updated version allows a co-operative buddy to play as well. The game hasn't been redesigned or restructured for this addition, as Player 2 will simply play as another Chase by default and all content stays the same, but it is a lot of fun to run around the city in separate split screens and tackle missions together. The framerate is still hit and miss, but performs no worse for double the player count than normal. Each player will need their own full controller layout, sadly, as the game's complete button requirements couldn't be replicated on a sole Joy-Con, but it is very much worth doing so. Even when on a solo run of the game, LEGO City Undercover is an enjoyable ride from beginning to end.

Screenshot for LEGO City Undercover on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

An often-forgotten gem of the Wii U library gets a new lease of life on its successor, and it marks a perfect stopgap between the majesty of Breath of the Wild and the carnage of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe later this month. Minor framerate issues and higher price tag aside, LEGO City Undercover ranks as one of the very best LEGO games and an ideal portable companion.




Warner Bros





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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