LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins Game Poster Image
Mediocre LEGO game with minor violence and reckless driving.

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Kids say

age 8+
Based on 3 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

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.

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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.

Language
Consumerism

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.

What 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.

User Reviews

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Kid, 11 years old February 24, 2014
Kid, 10 years old June 5, 2013

lego grand theft auto

its like grand theft auto but in lego

What's it about?

LEGO CITY UNDERCOVER: THE CHASE BEGINS for Nintendo 3DS is a prequel to LEGO City Undercover for Wii U. It takes place in the same city and within many of the same locations and uses a similar formula of progression, with players slowly unlocking more costumes that grant Chase McCain new abilities. However, all of the missions are new. They revolve around Chase's early days on the Lego City police force and generally culminate with him capturing a low ranking boss in a gang that's wreaking havoc all over the city. Kids often perform special tasks -- such as using an audio scanner to hear through walls and a magnifying glass to follow footprints -- while keeping an eye out for various collectibles, including tokens representing new Lego characters and vehicles.

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. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the fun involved in building things. What sorts of creations do you like to build out of Legos? Is there another toy or other materials you prefer to use to make things?

  • Families can also discuss what it might be like to be a police officer. Do you think police officers are heroes? What do you like most about their job? What do you think is the scariest, most dangerous part?

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For kids who love Legos and creating

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