A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that LEGO City Undercover is an enormous, open-world adventure game featuring virtual versions of countless LEGO construction sets. It's likely that kids who play the game will want to buy the LEGO sets they see, and that kids who play with LEGO will want to buy the game. However, if you can get past all the branding and commercialism you'll find a fun, family-friendly game with a winning protagonist who is good, charming, witty, fallible, and never uses lethal force. The game promotes exploration, discovery, and imagination in a colorful and cartoonish world that feels like the world's biggest LEGO collection come to life.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
Set in a giant plastic building block metropolis composed of actual LEGO building sets kids can buy in stores, LEGO CITY UNDERCOVER is an open world action adventure game starring a plucky cop named Chase McCain. He's out to capture the town's biggest crooks. That involves some exciting car chases through busy streets, puzzle-filled missions in locations ranging from a mine to a mansion, the occasional bit of fisticuffs (don't worry -- no one is ever seriously injured), and even some goofy backroom shenanigans, thanks to a selfish chief and a dimwitted colleague. When kids aren't following plot points they can freely explore the city, checking out every nook and cranny of the town and climbing their way to the town's highest peaks, where they'll often find rewards in the form of special bricks, unlockable minifigure characters, and major building projects. Players aiming for a 100 per cent completion rating can expect an adventure in excess of 50 hours.
Is it any good?
There may not be any Jedi, young wizards, or DC Superheroes lurking in the streets of TT Games' latest building block adventure, but it might be better for it. This vast world of LEGO cars, buildings, and people is a pleasure to explore -- especially for avid LEGO collectors, who are sure to recognize several of their own building sets in virtual form. Plus, it makes terrific use of the Wii U gamepad. Players consult the screen frequently to view maps and routes, receive incoming calls from non-player characters, scan areas for criminals and secret bricks, and covertly listen to crooks' conversations.
Only beefs? No multiplayer limits the appeal for families that have grown accustomed to playing LEGO games together on the couch. Plus, a few technical hitches -- including some painfully long loading screens and unpredictable load locations after saving and exiting the game (you may find yourself restarting inside or outside of your mission) -- prove a bit of a nuisance. Still, they can't keep this game down. Indeed, LEGO City Undercover may be all the reason some LEGO lovers need to pick up Nintendo's new console.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about building stuff. What's the coolest thing you've ever made? Why do you think people enjoy creating things? What sorts of careers that involve making things might interest you?
Families can also discuss commercialism. Have you ever bought a product because it was part of a brand you like only to be disappointed by it? How can we make smart purchasing decisions and avoid wasting money on products that appeal only because of clever advertising?
- Platforms: Nintendo Wii U
- Subjects: Hobbies: building, collecting
- Skills: Self-Direction: goal-setting, initiative
Thinking & Reasoning: deduction, logic, solving puzzles
- Price: $59.99
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Nintendo
- Release date: March 17, 2013
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Cars and Trucks, Sports and Martial Arts, Adventures, Trains
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Cartoon Violence, Crude Humor
- Last updated: March 23, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.