3DS

North America

LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins

by Curtis Bonds - April 20, 2013, 9:00 pm PDT
Total comments: 9

5.5

A flawed foundation underneath a strong building.

Lego City Undercover for the Wii U is probably one of the best games I've played in a long time. It has a huge city to explore that's full of activity, tons of collectables, and top-notch writing and humor. After finishing it, I was really excited to get my hands on the 3DS prequel, Lego City Undercover: The Chase Begins, and see where our hero Chase McCain got his start. After completing the game, I can say that the game is very ambitious, but it's still a few bricks shy of a load.


The Chase Begins is set two years prior to the events of the Wii U game. Chase is a rookie cop trying to make a name for himself in the Lego City Police Department. It's an open-world game in the sense that you can do the game's various missions at your leisure and are free to explore the game's city at your own pace. Unfortunately, the game has to load each of the game's neighborhoods, which take up to two minutes to do so, making exploring the city more of a chore than anything else. Thankfully, when you're doing a set of missions, it never asks you to venture outside of the neighborhood you're already in.


The mission structure of the game is very basic. At the start of each chapter, you're given access to a new “disguise,” which gives you a special ability. For example, the Robber lets you break open doors and use a paint gun, the Construction Worker lets you fix electrical equipment and use a jackhammer, and the Astronaut lets you use a jetpack in specific areas. After getting said abilities, you are sent on several missions that utilize the newfound ability, but quickly devolve into “Go to glowing spot and use ability” or “Go to glowing spot and beat up criminals.” The focus is more on combat, as criminals show up frequently and require too many hits to fully take down. You can't really use any of your special abilities against the enemies other than to stun them, so you're stuck with constantly tossing and kicking them, which gets old very quickly.


Before and after you complete those sets of missions, you're treated to a fully voice-acted and animated cutscene with Chase and anyone else that's involved with the specific area that you're in. While these scenes are entertaining in their own right, I wish that same attention to humor, character, and charm was transferred over to the main game. The writing, aside from some clever wordplay in the mission titles, is about as generic and literal as you can get. Everything outside of those cut scenes have a stark lack of emotion, voice acting, or any type of sound outside of some ambient noise, so it is hard to care about anything. The music outside of the dialogue exchanges is lifted straight from the Wii U game, though highly compressed. Still, the ‘70s cop-drama-influenced soundtrack is a good fit for the game, and adds some much-needed tension to the game’s action sequences.


Since it is a Lego game, unlockables are plentiful across the open world, including different costumes, new cars, and special red bricks that give you special bonuses like extra racing missions and stud (the game's currency) multipliers. You'll need studs that you find on the sidewalks, after defeating enemies to buy the various unlockables, and bricks (the game's secondary currency) to buy new landmarks and calling points for all the cars you've unlocked. While it's nice that the game gives you plenty of stuff to unlock, it's ultimately useless, as they give you no real advantage to progressing in the game's story. I was able to complete the entire game in about six hours, and never felt like I was being held back by a lack of abilities or extras.


But the sticking point for everything that is wrong with The Chase Begins can begin and end with its atrocious load times that put the Wii U version to shame. Starting the game up can take up to two minutes, and loading each individual neighborhood can take up to a minute and a half. The game also suffers from a very low draw-distance, which is hidden by various fog effects and pop-in of the game's cars and citizens. The graphics otherwise are colorful and appealing; it is still technically impressive how much of Lego City the system can show. However, the game suffers from constant dropped frames and and general hiccups, as the game can just stop for up to three seconds once you hit the attack button so it can load the appropriate animation.


Overall, the game isn't a complete travesty, despite all of its issues. It controls well enough, and is generally fun to play in short spurts, but I can't really recommend it to anyone that's not a child, as it's just a bit too basic. Especially if you have the Wii U version of the game, do not double dip for the 3DS prequel, unless you want to know everything about Chase McCain. Otherwise, Lego City Undercover: The Chase Begins is, woefully, just another brick in the wall.

Summary

Pros
  • Amusing pre-rendered cutscenes
  • Detailed city with lots of unlockables
Cons
  • Emotionless, dull dialogue, outside of pre-rendered cutscenes.
  • Missions get repetitive and boring
  • Technical hiccups, long load times, framerate dips

Images

Talkback

If anyone has any specific questions about the game, specifically about differences from the Wii U version, feel free to comment and I'll try to answer all that I can.

TJ SpykeApril 21, 2013

Is there any kind of connectivity between the Wii U game and 3DS game?

Quote from: TJ

Is there any kind of connectivity between the Wii U game and 3DS game?

Unless you mean key points in the story, no.

TJ SpykeApril 21, 2013

Shame. If they made it so you could get stuff like additional unlockables (like Metroid Prime/Metroid Fusion), I could see it maybe being worth it to get both.

This game's mediocrity is a super bummer...

house3136April 21, 2013

CurtDogg, listening to Pink Floyd and, as of today, burning the… midnight oil, to get the review up. ; )


It would be interesting to know if the load times have to do with the city itself on Wii U and 3DS; or if it’s more of an issue with TT Fusion.

Muzy72April 21, 2013

Guess that explains why they didn't show of the 3DS version very much.

RazorkidApril 21, 2013

I'm thinking TT Fusion is the culprit for the ridiculous load times vs. the hardware being at fault particularly when there are better examples of load times on both systems for games with similar size and/or scope.

pokepal148April 21, 2013

Quote from: Razorkid

I'm thinking TT Fusion is the culprit for the ridiculous load times vs. the hardware being at fault particularly when there are better examples of load times on both systems for games with similar size and/or scope.

yeah lego games have had load problems on the 3DS from the start

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LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins Box Art

Genre Action
Developer Travellers Tales

Worldwide Releases

na: LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins
Release Apr 21, 2013
PublisherNintendo
RatingEveryone 10+
eu: LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins
Release Apr 26, 2013
PublisherNintendo
aus: LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins
Release Apr 27, 2013
PublisherNintendo
RatingParental Guidance
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