A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Kids can learn about exploration, discovery, and puzzle solving. However, unlike LEGO City Undercover for Wii U, the focus here is more on traditional action and adventure. That said, kids still get to experience a sense of creation by building the occasional car jump or landmark structure. They'll also need to pay attention to cues and clues to deduce what to do next as they track down criminals. Kids playing LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins explore and solve problems in a world of blocks while occasionally encountering a surprise or delight.
This game is about exploration, discovery, and building things. Note, though, that this game focuses more on straight up action and adventure than its cousin, the Wii U's LEGO City Undercover. Narrative themes include seeing justice done and helping people in trouble, both friends and strangers.
Positive Role Models
Chase is a model police officer motivated primarily by a need to see justice done. He's never tempted to join the criminals he pursues, and he doesn't injure or kill his enemies (he simply trips them up and captures them). That said, some of his tactics -- such as commandeering civilian vehicles and showing little regard for pedestrians while driving -- aren't the sort you'd like to see real police officers employ.
Ease of Play
Chase has infinite lives and respawns without any penalty to progress, so it's nearly impossible to fail most missions. Controls for movement and driving are simple, as are special actions in contextual situations, such as interacting with objects. However, camera movement is limited and occasionally frustrating.
Violence & Scariness
Chase gets into frequent fights with gangsters. They punch and kick him, but Chase generally doesn't strike back -- though he does have a move where he spins on his head and kicks any foes nearby. Instead, he usually tosses his enemies to the ground and cuffs them. He also collects gadgets that he can use in battle, such as a ray gun that freezes enemies in place like statues.
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Products & Purchases
This game is a direct offshoot of Lego's building toys. Players will likely find many of the game's vehicles, buildings, and minifigures familiar, as they were modeled after those found in actual Lego construction sets. The game will most likely motivate kids to purchase more Lego sets.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins is an open-world action adventure game that has kids taking on the role of a rookie police officer chasing after criminals in a big plastic city. Players get into fights with bad guys, but the game's hero generally doesn't hit or punch anyone, choosing instead to throw them to the ground before cuffing them. However, he's not a great driver: Pedestrians frequently leap to get out of his way. Parents should also note that this game is an offshoot of the popular building block toys. Players will see virtual versions of real models available to buy in stores. There's a good chance kids who play the game will want to buy more Lego sets, and that kids who love Legos will want buy the game.
Is It Any Good?
Anyone who played the original LEGO City Undercover for Wii U is bound to come away a little disappointed with this prequel. It offers many of the same basic elements of its predecessor -- including open exploration, the power to commandeer cars, and plenty of ability-granting Lego outfits to collect -- but everything feels smaller, staler, and less fun.
Some examples: The city is broken into smaller chunks -- many of which aren't accessible at the outset -- with long loading screens between areas. There's far less spoken dialog, and the text dialog lacks the laugh-out-loud humor found in the Wii U game. Side missions and bonus objectives are fewer in number and less interesting. And without a second analog stick, players are left to control the camera with the shoulder buttons, which is awkward at best (it's impossible to look up). Younger kids less given to criticism will still have some fun here, but older players won't be able to help compare this game to its Wii U counterpart, and that contrast won't be favorable.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.