Lego City Undercover
|Lego City Undercover|
Cover art for Lego City Undercover
Lego City Undercover is an action-adventure video game developed by TT Fusion for the Wii U. The game was released on 18 March 2013 in North America, in Europe and Australia on 28 March 2013 and in Japan on 25 July 2013. A prequel, Lego City Undercover: The Chase Begins was 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 first 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.
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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 to be behind it. Gleeson entrusts Chase to find him and bring him to justice once again. Chase calls his ex-girlfriend, Natalia Kowalski, to make sure she is okay, only to find her bitterly unhappy due to Chase accidentally revealing her identity on television 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 that the new Chief of Police Marion Dunby is now in charge of the case. Chase receives police equipment from Ellie Phillips (Frank's crush), and gets Dunby to brief him and other officers about Rex, before realizing the bank is robbed by clowns. After arresting the clowns and dealing with a road block, Chase bumps into Natalia, who announces her intent of promptly leaving Lego City before driving away. Chase then arrests more robbers after he obtains a grapple gun from Sheriff Duke Huckleberry, Ellie's uncle. Receiving a clue from an involved robber, Chase, with the help of an indent named Blue, 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 vows to look for him, only for Natalia to reject the offer. Chase then learns 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. Frank then informs the mayor of Dunby keeping Chase out of Rex's case, forcing Dunby to let Chase go undercover to continue the case.
Chase goes undercover in Chan Chuang's gang, where he becomes a limousine driver for millionaire Forrest Blackwell and is later sent to steal a car. Chase later encounters a stranger in Chan's limousine company, who is revealed to be Natalia, 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. After being rejected by Natalia with his offer to look for her father again, Chase breaks out Vinnie's right-hand man/cousin Moe de Luca and also steal a delivery truck in order to get into Vinnie's gang. After being accepted into Vinnie's, he is ordered to perform a bank robbery for his "private buyer", who Chase believes to be Rex. Shortly after the robbery, Chan calls Chase to steal a moon buggy from Apollo Island. After which, he saves Forrest Blackwell from a gang and finds out that Chan is holding Natalia hostage at his scrapyard. Chase manages to rescue Natalia with some help from two police officers, after which, Natalia finally agrees to let Chase look for her father.
However, due Chase going into the scrapyard, Chan goes into hiding, which angers Dunby. Chase is dropped from the Fury case temporarily and is transferred, along with Frank, to Bluebell National Park with Sheriff Huckleberry. 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 to steal a robotic T-Rex from the Lego City museum and another job to steal a boat from the fire department. Afterwards Chase is forced to rescue Natalia from mysterious men dressed in black and takes her to Ellie's place on a helicopter. Chase and Natalia rekindle and Chase tries to ask her out on a date, but Natalia playfully rejects him because he's 'married to his job'. Chase then tracks Vinnie and his private buyer, who is in fact Rex, who refuses to pay Vinnie and orders him to steal more things.
Angered, Vinnie calls Chase for a job behind Rex's back, which is stealing from Forrest Blackwell. Chase learns from Moe that Blackwell was going to build an apartment complex/shopping mall in Bluebell National Park, but a discovery of a rare squirrel had shut down the project, to which Blackwell vowed to never build anything again. Chase sneaks into Blackwell's mansion, evading Blackwell's sentinels and returning to Vinnie's ice cream parlor, only to find it overrun by Rex's thugs and Vinnie locked in the freezer in retaliation for doing something against Rex's orders. Chase manages to save Vinnie and stop the thugs. After interrogating Jimmy, the leader of the thugs, Chase takes his place on a job Rex sent his men to do, which is to steal a crane from the construction yard, which Chase then uses to steal a telescope from an observatory.
After following Rex's men to their hideout, Chase navigates through the base and hears Natalia's father, Henrik Kowalski being interrogated by Rex and discovers that Forrest Blackwell himself is behind the crime wave, and that he had kidnapped Natalia in order to coerce her father into furthering his plans. Chase rescues him and they both escape. Chase calls Ellie and tells her about Blackwell's true intentions, and she informs him that Blackwell was on TV not long ago with promises of news that would "change Lego City forever." Chase proceeds to Blackwell's mansion in hopes of finding evidence and Natalia. Chase discovers a small model of a colony on the moon, realizing Blackwell Tower itself is a rocket and that its launch would destroy Lego City. Chase, Henrik and people in the police department rush to build a force field that will help protect the city from the rocket. Although everyone is saved from the launch, Chase learns that Natalia is 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. Chase defeats Rex, but Blackwell leaves both of them before destroying the shuttle. Chase and Rex survive the blast and engage in a final battle, with Chase winning once again. Blackwell smashes them off the platform with an escape pod, sending them into a free fall as he vows for revenge, only to get hit by a cow and fly 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, and Chase and is congratulated by Mayor Gleeson. Dunby also reveals that Rex is once again in police custody, and offers Chase the honor of his arrest. Chase turns it down and lets Dunby have it, claiming that 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 as the screen pans out.
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, until a few years after the game was released. 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 City, 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, the 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 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 on North America and Australia while stocks last, and be included in the first copies of the game on 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 on the Wii U version, reviews were largely positive, praising the humour and design, but generally criticizing lengthy loading times and a lack of co-operative multiplayer, the latter of which is a staple in most 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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