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: 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.
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?
- Platforms: Nintendo 3DS
- Subjects: Hobbies: building
Social Studies: exploration
Language & Reading: reading
- Skills: Creativity: making new creations
Thinking & Reasoning: investigation, logic, solving puzzles
- Price: $29.99
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Nintendo
- Release date: April 21, 2013
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Cars and Trucks, Superheroes
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Cartoon Violence, Crude Humor
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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.