Lego City Undercover: The Chase Begins is the prequel to the Wii U’s Lego City: Undercover and takes place two years before the story of its Wii U brother. At the start we find the hero, Chase McCain, as a rookie cop on his first day at the Lego City police department. The game follows Chase as he proves himself as the cop of all cops while saving the city from things like lost cats and dogs to car stealing villains.
The Chase Begins is my first introduction to Chase McCain and the city of Lego’s. The game pretty much has the building blocks we have grown to expect from Lego games. There is the corny humor that will put a smile on the face of anyone with a heart, there is the ability to destroy or rebuild things (because it is all made out of Lego’s, obviously), and a great amount of exploring and Lego piece collection. For me that nostalgic Lego feeling was lost in the 3DS version.
The Chase Begins tries to take the large open world of Lego City and morph it down onto the 3DS. There is still a lot to find and do in mini Lego City, which impressively resembles its larger Wii U version, but it feels a little lost. I may be spoiled with larger console sandbox games, but I found mini Lego City somewhat of a wasteland. That bustling activity of a city that is full of life was not there. Traveling from point A to point B wasn’t as far as the game wanted it to be and many places were just as easily reached by foot. Trying to commandeer a car took me back to the GTA San Andreas times when it was hard to find a car when needed and then finding plenty of cars in the way during a police chase. Because of this, and the small space of the game, it was at times easier to just run to the next game point instead of taking the time to find a vehicle. In the game’s defense, the play mechanics do seem catered to the 3DS style of play. When missions on the Wii U version could last up to thirty plus minutes, The Chase Begins missions are a lot shorter with the longest one taking about ten minutes. This helps with the “pick-up and just play” aspect of the 3DS.
The story of how the chase begins is one of the main redeeming factors for this game. I am sure that those who loved Lego City Undercover will enjoy seeing where Chase and some of the other characters came from. Some of what happens in Lego City Undercover finds its start here as the chase begins. The game marks the first time McCain runs across his future love interest Natalie, and his nemesis Rex Fury. There are other recognizable characters like Gleeson and Dunby, who are both holding lower positions at the time of the game.
What really saves this game from falling into the depths of nothingness has to be the graphics. Chase Begins may not be the best looking 3DS game out there but, to put it simply, it is very pleasing to the eyes. I have to give credit to TT Games for putting together an aesthetically pleasing game.
Lego City Undercover: The Chase Begins is a nice prequel to a game that some people may love but it is missing that extra Lego magic that we have grown to expect. It is not a hit against the 3DS, or TT Games, but taking such a large-scale game as Undercover and morphing it down into the 3DS is not an easy task. Things like the depth of the city and witty comments and conversations have been scaled back to fit the 3DS. This takes away a lot of the magic that makes a Lego game great. Lego City: The Chase Begins is not a bad game, but falls a little short of its older Wii U brother. What it does well is leave me looking for something a little more… maybe like Lego City Undercover Wii U.