Capsule Review: LEGO City Undercover

A gentle and amusing open-world action game with tons of low-difficulty things to do and collectibles to find.

An open-world action adventure with platforming, vehicle racing, simple combat and light Metroidvania elements. Like most LEGO games, there’s a ton to do and collect but relatively little depth - the tone and action are all designed to be kid-friendly, which goes well with the game’s light-hearted sense of humor.

As is typical for open-world games, there’s a series of main story missions (fifteen in this case) and a variety of other activities that the player can find and complete. The story missions span a wide variety of scenarios such as a jail, a martial arts dojo, a museum, and many more. Along the way, the player acquires several new themed ‘disguises’ that provide extra abilities - the thief costume comes with a crowbar for breaking open locked doors, the miner costume comes with a pickaxe for breaking apart rocks, etc. These abilities are used to progress in the story and also used to find optional collectibles and complete optional challenges both in the missions and in the open world.

That open world is the hub of LEGO City, which is relatively small but makes excellent use of space. The city is varied and beautiful, made up of several different themed districts with their own style and landmarks - for example, the first area resembles San Francisco, complete with Albatross Island prison and Auburn Bay Bridge. Each area is tightly packed with collectibles and challenges - it’s hard to walk for more than a few seconds without bumping into something to do.

The challenges include combat, platforming, and vehicle-racing, none of which is particularly difficult or punishing. There are also light puzzles, but they are mostly about being perceptive and noticing opportunities to use your accumulated tools. Presumably to reward repeat play and exploration, many challenges and collectibles require disguise abilities gained in the story missions, so you may not be able to actually do these things until you advance the story.

It’s a chill open-world game, low pressure and forgiving, crowded with goodies to find and story missions for when you want a more linear and focused experience. Skilled players won’t find much of a challenge, but it can still be an excellent way to relax or to share an experience between players of disparate skill levels.

I Stopped Playing When: I had a blast exploring the game’s world and periodically taking story missions, but I eventually got frustrated by how much content was gated behind late-game story mission disguise abilities, leaving me feeling like I was being funneled into playing the story missions before exploring. I powered through the last few missions and then found that sweeping for collectibles now that I had all the abilities was no longer compelling since the story was over, so I put the game down. I’d still had a great time with it overall.

Docprof's Rating:

Four Stars: Great. Not only did I finish the game, I probably played through the whole thing again and/or completed any optional objectives. It's an easy recommendation for any genre fan.

You can get it or learn more here.