Lego City Undercover Isn't as Different as You Might Think

E3 2012: Although the open-world elements are brand new, there's a more traditional Lego experience just below the surface.

When you think of an open-world adventure, certain ideas invariably rush into your mind. Untold freedom, crazy locomotion, and utter unpredictably are the foundation upon which most free-roaming games are built, but Lego City Undercover has a more structured side to complement its nonlinear elements. We had a chance to play through a tightly constructed level involving miners, criminals, cops, and other suit-changing minifigs.

The most noteworthy aspect of Undercover is that the stages you enter outside of the open-world city are strikingly familiar for anyone who has played a previous Lego game. In the mission we took part in, we played as a police officer in search of a gang of criminals. Far below the sidewalks where oblivious citizens walk without a care in the world lay a base where evil plans are hatched and coldhearted robbers laugh about their day's work. Sounds like a job for the best darn cop in Blockland.

An expansive cave is the perfect place to create a quiet lair for a band of scheming thieves. Miners, completely unaware that their hard work is making it possible for criminals to hide from justice, were busy striking away at rocks and minerals with their handy pickaxes. As in previous Lego games, the tools you have access to depend on what kind of character you control. By tapping either of the shoulder buttons, you switch between different suits, letting you easily doff your policeman uniform to become a citizen in a pinch.

Of course, you won't have much luck getting through a mine if you don't find a miner's suit. A change of clothes was found in an out-of-the-way locker, and once we found our miner outfit, we could light dynamite and run like crazy from the blast. Puzzles are laid out in a linear and logical way, so you can seamlessly walk down a single path to make your way through a level. You may have to destroy an outhouse and then reassemble the pieces to make a bridge, or chop rocks apart to find precious Lego blocks hidden beneath them. It's a simple game, but enjoyable, because the breezy pacing and friendly charm make it immensely endearing.

During one section, we entered a free fall through a huge hole cut into the center of the massive cave. By changing our trajectory, we could collect studs, though danger awaited those who didn't heed caution. A spinning fan blade made short work of our flimsy policeman. In our second attempt, we made it past the fan with ease, and the protagonist muttered, "Now why would they put that there?" It's a simple enough comment, but it adds a dose of humor to the silly adventuring. And though it's certainly strange to hear words come out of these plastic people's mouths, the cute dialogue more than makes up for the weirdness.

The demo ended with a nod toward the Mario universe. We assembled a bunch of blocks into a warp pipe, jumped down, and then reached the surface as fireworks extolled our hard work. Getting a peek beyond the open-world experience made us further understand what the majority of this adventure would feel like. What we saw so far was good (though expected), and we're eager to see how Lego City Undercover turns out.

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Discussion

8 comments
tevic
tevic

I'm playing GTA LCS at the moment and I think I just understood that the sheer exhilaration of open-world games come from (all) the missions taking place *in* the open-world, and not in some just opened place outside the open world. Even rockstar made this error in GTA 4. Only GTA III and LCS are "pure" in this sense, and these 2 games are still at the pinacle of immersive gaming in my opinion.

 

If  you roam to go to a linear mission taking place outside of the open-world, then what's the point of the open-word ??? It's much less immersive, much less interesting.

xxYetterxx
xxYetterxx

So much potential but they got to let us build stuff if they really want to sell me on a lego game.

barren167
barren167

Not bad, not bad. Too bad I'd have to buy a new gaming system to play it...

guynamedbilly
guynamedbilly

It looked neat and I thought the trailer looked cool and funny.  If they don't allow you to design your own vehicles or police headquarters or something though, it'll just be the next lego game that I avoid.

BrunoBRS
BrunoBRS

final line on the article: "and we’re anxious to see how Lego City: Universe turns out."

 

universe? i think you mean undercover :P

WCK619
WCK619

 @xxYetterxx This. I don't know why they don't just rip off Minecraft. They could really do something epic with that.

Cillah187
Cillah187

@BrunoBRS They must have taken notice to you, man. They changed it haha.