One of the best games currently available on the Wii U right now is LEGO City: Undercover (read our review), so the prospect of a similar title made portable on the Nintendo 3DS sounds like a swell idea. LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins tries to incorporate everything that made its console iteration so much fun, but sadly ends up falling short on what made its Wii U counterpart such an enjoyable game in the first place.
LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins is a prequel to the Wii U’s LEGO City: Undercover, and it highlights the rise of series protagonist Chase McCain all the way from a donut-fetching rookie to a bonafide hero cop. The game itself acts as a great setup for the LEGO City adventure that’s currently available on Nintendo’s latest home console, it’s just a bummer that the gameplay doesn’t live up to the quality of that installment.
Many of the key features and mission structures that made the original so enjoyable have transitioned onto the 3DS, meaning that fast-paced car chases, costume/ability swapping, and a copious amount of bad guys that need to be pummeled. The biggest issue with porting these experiences to a handheld, however, is that the 3DS simply isn’t technically capable of providing an identical experience, but that didn’t stop TT Games from trying to jam-pack everything in.
This lack of raw power and nerfed gameplay is to be expected from any title on a portable gaming device, but the similarities between The Chase Begins and LEGO City: Undercover invite comparisons based solely on the story that’s being told and the identical setting in which it takes place. The hustling and bustling of an open-world that was once so fun to explore on the Wii U is now filled with empty streets, fewer collectibles, and load times that separate each major portion of the city. There’s almost no point in exploring LEGO City this time around, and that was one of the best things about Chase McCain’s home console debut.
The story itself still features voice acting by all of those who were involved in LEGO City: Undercover, and the humor that makes the LEGO series of video games so enjoyable is present. Despite retaining its humor and likable cast of characters, The Chase Begins doesn’t feature voice overs for every character — resorting instead to text boxes to covey a majority of the game’s missions and plot. Cutscenes are welcomed when they appear, but for the most part players will be reading what characters are saying to them. Still, the dialogue is often funny, and it’s hard to be too upset by the lack of a fully voiced title.
There are still some cool platforming elements and abilities that are at a player’s disposal, and the game itself manages to by enjoyable at times. The campaign will take roughly 10 hours to complete — depending on how long users spend poking around LEGO City — and the boss fights against some of the escaped convicts provide a nice change of pace when compared to the grinding that’s required during some of the game’s more monotonous tasks.
Overall, LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins fails to live up its predecessor’s pedigree, and that’s almost solely because of the 3DS’ lack of pure processing power. That said, there is some joy to be pulled from the final product, and those who enjoyed LEGO City: Undercover on the Wii U will draw some satisfaction in seeing their favorite characters return. This is a game best saved for someone familiar with the new series, but the title itself can easily be overlooked by a majority of consumers holding out for a must-have game on the Nintendo 3DS.
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LEGO City: The Chase Begins is available now, exclusively for the Nintendo 3DS.