Lego City Undercover
|Lego City Undercover|
Cover art for Lego City Undercover
|Distributor(s)||Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment|
|Series||Lego City Undercover|
Lego City Undercover is a comedic sandbox-style action-adventure video game developed by TT Fusion for the Wii U. The game was released on 18 March 2013 in North America, Europe and Australia on 28 March 2013 and in Japan on 25 July 2013. A prequel was also developed for the Nintendo 3DS. Unlike previous Lego titles developed by Traveller's Tales, which have been based on various licenses, the game is based on the Lego City brand and is the first Lego game to be published by Nintendo. It was also the first Lego game to be released on the Wii U.
Taking place in the vast Lego City, players control an undercover cop named Chase McCain. Chase goes on the hunt for criminals, with various moves at his disposal, such as swinging across poles and performing wall jumps; he can also gain disguises that give him additional abilities, such as a robber disguise that lets him break locks. Chase can also pilot vehicles, such as cars and helicopters, and use loose bricks to build various objects. Other characters can be playable once unlocked, but they'll still talk with Chase's voice (except in cut-scenes where Chase can still be seen). The Wii U GamePad can be used as a device including a communicator and as a scanner to locate criminals.
Lego City Undercover's gameplay borrows heavily from the Grand Theft Auto series. However the game is role-reversed with the player taking on the role of a police officer enforcing the law, rather than a criminal committing crime, although the player is required to commit criminal acts on some occasions in order to infiltrate criminal gangs. The game also includes references to notable Nintendo intellectual properties, such as offering the ability to build a Lego Super Mario universe warp pipe.
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Chase McCain, a cop sent away from Lego City two years prior to the events of the game, returns under pressure from Mayor Gleeson, as the city is in the grip of a crime wave, one she believes Rex Fury, who has escaped from Albatross Prison, to be behind it all. Mayor Gleeson entrusts Chase to find him and bring him to justice like he had done two years prior. He calls Natalia Kowalski, his former girlfriend, to make sure she is okay, but is bitterly unhappy due to Chase unwittingly having revealed her identity on media during Rex's trial, forcing her to go under witness protection.
Chase arrives at the police station and is given a happy welcome by dim-witted rookie Frank Honey, but is shocked the new Chief of Police Marion Dunby is now in charge of the case. Chase receives police equipment, such as a police communicator (similar to a Wii U GamePad) by Ellie Phillips (Frank's crush). Dunby reveals the history between Rex, Chase and Natalia before realizing the bank is robbed, causing the police force into action. After arresting bank robbing clowns and dealing with a road block, he sees Natalia driving quickly and proceeds to talk to her. Their conservation is not long and Natalia steals Chase's car to go say goodbye to her father and to permanently leave Lego City. After getting another car, Chase then arrests some robbers after he obtains a grapple gun from Sheriff Duke Huckleberry, Ellie's uncle. Chase visits Rex's prison and discovers an escape tool from Bluebell Mine. Chase encounters Rex at the mine who quickly defeats him. Chase wakes up to find that Natalia's father has gone missing. Chase is then required to train in Kung Fu with a man named Barry Smith and later goes to rescue Frank from a group of thugs and bring a police truck back to the police station. In a revelation, Frank reveals to the mayor about keeping Chase out of his Dunby's case, forcing him to let Chase became undercover in getting deeper into the case.
Chase goes undercover in Chan Chuang's gang, where he becomes a limousine driver for millionaire Forrest Blackwell and was later sent to steal a car. Chase also encounters a stranger in Chan's limousine company, who is revealed to be Natalia, who was searching Chan's office because her father was last seen getting into a limo. Chase learns that Chan is working for Vinnie Pappalardo, another crime boss. To get in with Vinnie, Chase must break out Vinnie's right-hand man/cousin Moe de Luca with the help of a prison transport truck and also steal a delivery truck. After being accepted into Vinnie's gang, he is ordered to perform a bank robbery for his "private buyer". Shortly after stealing the green shiny diamond, Chan calls Chase to steal a moon buggy from Apollo Island. After he gets the job done, he saves Forrest Blackwell from a gang of thugs and finds out that Chan is holding Natalia hostage at his scrapyard.
Chase manages to rescue Natalia with some help from two police officers, but inadvertently forces Chan into hiding. Angered, Marion Dunby drops Chase from the case temporarily and transfers him and Frank to Bluebell National Park with Sheriff Huckleberry and they are sent to Farmer Hayes's place to look for some missing pigs. Chase quickly gets back on the case after accepting another job from Vinnie: a robotic T-Rex from the Lego City museum. After delivering the dinosaur to Vinnie, he accepts another job: stealing a boat from the fire department. Afterwards Chase is forced to rescue Natalia on the hospital rooftop and takes her to Ellie's place on a helicopter. Chase then tracks Vinnie and his private buyer, who is in fact Rex, who refuses to pay Vinnie for the work he had done.
Angered, Vinnie calls Chase for a job behind Rex's back, to steal from Forrest Blackwell. Chase learns about how Blackwell was going to build an apartment complex with a shopping mall in Bluebell National Park, but a discovery of a rare squirrel had shut down the project, causing Blackwell to never build anything again. Chase goes inside Blackwell's mansion, although he is attacked by Blackwell's sentinel guards. Chase manages to evade the Sentinels and returns to Vinnie's and finds the ice cream parlor that he owns overrun by Rex's thugs and Vinnie locked in the freezer. Chase manages to save Vinnie and stop the thugs. After interrogating the leader of the thugs named Jimmy, Chase takes his place on a job Rex sent his men to do: steal a crane from the construction yard which Chase then uses to steal a telescope from an observatory for the "old man".
After following Rex's men to their hideout, Chase listens through a vent and hears Natalia's father Henrik Kowalski who is being interrogated by Rex. Chase navigates through the base and discovers that Forrest Blackwell himself is behind the crime wave. Chase also discovers that Blackwell had kidnapped Natalia in order to threaten her father into co-operating. Chase then rescues him and they both escape on a UFO. Chase then calls Ellie and tells her about Blackwell's plan. Chase is informed by Ellie that Blackwell was on TV not long ago, and the he will be holding a press conference outside of Blackwell Tower later that afternoon with news that would "change Lego City forever." Chase proceeds to Blackwell's mansion in hopes of finding evidence and Natalia. Chase doesn't find Natalia but he discovers a small model of a colony on the moon. Chase, realizing Blackwell Tower itself is a rocket to the moon and that its launch would destroy Lego City, he, Henrik and people in the police department rushed to build the force field that will help protect the citizens from the rocket. Although the citizens are safe from the fire, the rocket launches with Natalia on board.
Chase takes a space shuttle to the moon and encounters Rex Fury and Forrest Blackwell. Chase battles Rex who uses the T-Rex that's been mechanically modified, with Chase using a construction mech. Rex loses and Blackwell fires him before destroying the shuttle, but Chase and Rex survive the blast and engage in a final battle, with Chase winning at the end. Blackwell smashes them off the platform with an escape pod, sending them into a free fall before fleeing, until he gets hit by a cow and flies away. Chase then skydives towards the command module that Natalia is being held in and triggers the parachute release, saving the command module.
Back on earth, Lego City celebrates Chase's victory, Natalia tightly embraces Chase and is congratulated by Mayor Gleeson, but Chase believes Rex got away. Marion Dunby then reveals to Chase that Rex is in police custody, having crash landed through someone's roof just minutes prior and offers him the honor of his arrest, but Chase turns it down and lets Dunby have it, instead choosing to spend time with Natalia is more important. The story ends as the characters laugh when Frank thinks Chase was talking about video games, while one of Blackwell's sentinels is still very slowly chasing after Chase on a tricycle before the story ends.
The development team at TT Fusion had been wanting to create a video game based on the Lego City theme for some time, but the available technology and the fact that most staff were working on existing IPs limited their ability to create such a game. Prototyping for what would become Lego City Undercover began in 2010, and lasted roughly twelve months. As they did not have a solid idea of what the game would be, so began with creating a small environment with drivable vehicles and Lego buildings. In 2011, Nintendo approached the company and showed them the Wii U hardware, asking whether they would like to develop a game for it. Having already had good experiences with Nintendo with successful ports of their previous titles and liking the platform's specs, the team agreed to work with Nintendo. Developing a game not tied to a movie license gave the team a degree of freedom previously unavailable, while also presenting difficulties with multiple aspects including the story, gameplay and general mechanics of the game. Due to the high compatibility between the team's concept and its prospective hardware, ports to other consoles were not seriously considered. They were also able to integrate the Gamepad functions into the game, making part of Undercover's world. Nintendo generally left the team to develop the game as they pleased, though they received regular updates on the project and would notify them if they saw anything as a problem. One of the early gameplay challenges was the combat, which needed to fit into the story context of the lead character being a policeman. Instead of a simple brawling style, the team designed the battle system to allow for defensive gameplay and not involve an equivalent to lethal take-downs.
While designing the setting, the team used elements from multiple locations, including New York, San Francisco and London. As the game was being developed for a Nintendo console, the team included multiple Nintendo-themed Easter eggs for players to find. The team had to create a new game engine as previous ones were not able to cope with the scale of the environments. They also wanted the main character, Chase McCain, to have depth as they knew both children and adults would play the game. Undercover features full voice acting, which at the time development started was a first for the series, although due to development time, others featuring voice acting were developed and released ahead of it. For the voice casting, the team used voice casting and recording company Side UK. A large voice casting session was held, and several established comedians were specifically asked to come in as the team wanted good delivery for the funny sections of the script. By the time the script writer, former stand-up comedian Graham Goring, was brought on board, a rough outline of the story had been created. His main role was to fill in the gaps and put in as much humor as possible. Goring was given a lot of freedom when it came to the parodies, although the team were regularly consulted on the suitability of the material and a script editor was assigned to check his work. Drawing on his former profession, Goring included a large amount of one-liners and humor intended for both children and adults. Following the template of The Simpsons game contains a high number of family-friendly parodies, referencing movies such as The Shawshank Redemption and The Matrix, and TV series such as Starsky & Hutch. The game's story took a while to write, as the team wanted to give it depth.
Lego City Undercover was first announced during Nintendo's press conference at E3 2011 on 7 June 2011 under the tentative title Lego City Stories. At Nintendo's press conference at E3 2012 on 5 June 2012, the game was revealed to have had a name change to Lego City Undercover. The game's debut trailer was shown during that event, revealing game footage for the first time. During Nintendo's 13 September events, some new trailers detailing the story were shown, along with the announcement that a Chase McCain minifigure would come with the game as a pre-order bonus in North America and Australia while stocks last, and be included in the first copies of the game in Europe. A police high speed chase toy was also released and includes a code for additional in-game content. Nintendo also published the game in Japan on 25 July 2013.
With a Metacritic score of 80, reviews were largely positive, praising the humour and design, but generally criticizing lengthy loading times and a lack of co-operative multiplayer, which was a staple in previous Lego titles. Official Nintendo Magazine awarded the game 90%, making it the magazine's third highest rated Wii U game at the time. IGN gave the game 8 out 10, praising its huge open world while criticising its generic gameplay. Eurogamer gave the game a score of 9 out of 10, saying the game features "a mixture of great writing, twinkling level design and laudable values that keep you coming back". GamesRadar gave the game 4 out of 5 stars, praising the inventive use of occupations and rewarding puzzles but criticising the lack of co-operative multiplayer. GameTrailers gave the game a score of 8.4, calling it "the best game in the series so far." Nintendo Insider awarded the game a score of 85%, writing that it "signals a bold new direction for TT Fusion’s creativity."
According to NPD figures, the game sold more than 100,000 units in the United States in its debut month, debuting outside the top 10 and tying with Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate. In the UK, the game debuted at number 12 in the all-formats chart, however, it debuted at number 8 in the individual-format chart and at number 1 in the Wii U chart. In Japan, the game sold more than 18,000 copies on it first week, entering all the charts at number 9.
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