Review by Epicaleb

Reviewed: 05/15/13

The Best LEGO Game On a Handheld. Hands Down.

OK. So after LEGO City Undercover launched with great success for the Wii U back in March, fans of the new franchise looked forward to the release of LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins for the Nintendo 3DS. Well, most of them. If you’re one of the other few who are worried that the 3DS game is just a port of the Wii U game, let me put your mind at ease: it’s not. The Chase Begins is a prequel to the Wii U version, and has an entirely different in-game story (although those of you who’ve played LEGO City Undercover on Wii U may not be surprised at some of the plot in this game). But enough jawing about the Wii U. Let’s talk 3DS.

Remember back when the first LEGO Star Wars came out? It was the coolest thing ever, right? Well, LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins is the coolest LEGO game that has ever happened on a handheld. Why? Well, it’s the first open-world LEGO title on a handheld. In 3D. Awesomeness. Now let’s take a stroll over to Cherry Tree Hills, home of the LEGO City Police Department (LCPD), and see what the fuss is all about.

Enter Chase McCain, rookie supercop and hero of the story.

After checking out his moves, anybody has to admit that McCain can really fight. All those previous LEGO games. What did you do when you saw an enemy? Mash the “Y” button. What did you do when you fought a boss? Mash the “Y” button. None of that in this game. In this game, Chase’s combat arsenal takes up three, count ‘em, three face buttons. Hit the good ol’ “Y” to quickly toss an enemy out of your way, time “X” to avoid an enemy’s attack and counterstrike, and then grab an enemy with “A”. After which you can chuck him in any direction you want. And for each button, Chase even has different attacks that all achieve the same ends. Cool. Oh yeah, and don’t forget that you get to watch your takedowns in slow motion (and in 3D)!

But Chase’s life isn’t all about slapping cuffs on the baddies. He’s a LEGO minifigure protagonist! That means: collecting time!!! In this game, there are plenty of collectibles, and a large variety of them at that, to hunt for. Chase even packs a handy LCPD-issue multi-purpose scanner for locking in on everything from red bricks (special bricks that grant upgrades to Chase) to disguised space aliens, MIB-style. And the best part is, he can even hunt useful disguises and vehicles that he can use (it’s LEGO City Undercover, after all; he’s gotta blend in!). Now, about those disguises…

See that scuba diver taking down the thug? That’s Chase! Check out that awesome racecar driver! Yeah, that’s Chase, too. You can find disguise tokens hidden throughout the game that you can redeem (with traditional LEGO studs, of course! Currency doesn’t change around here!) at the police station. You can then employ them in-game to change Chase’s outfit or his appearance altogether. That’s right! You can impersonate everybody from LCPD Deputy Dunby to gang leader Tony “Knuckles”! With some disguises, Chase gets special abilities. For example, with an astronaut disguise, he receives a twin-fuel cell jetpack and a high-tech freeze ray sidearm. It rocks to be an Elite Police officer in LEGO City!

That’s all fine and dandy, but what’s Chase going to do, walk everywhere? Nope! As an officer of the law, McCain evidently has the right to commandeer anybody’s vehicle, and he also has the clearance to use special Vehicle Call-In Points to beam in his favorite ride. But nothing awesome comes without a cost (most of the time), and in order to have access to vehicles at the Call-In Points, Chase will have to find their corresponding tokens in the game and then purchase them at the police station. Speaking of which, what else goes on in the police station?

The consumption of lots of donuts, evidently. You’ll find boxes of donuts in the lobby, where the Mainframe computer is. At that computer, Chase can log in and check out his progress, as well as package a gift of red bricks, vehicle, and disguises to be exchanged with other games via StreetPass. A neat little feature. Classic LEGO stuff can be found in the Operations Room, too: a Disguise Customizer (press “R” in here. Something happens!), red brick, vehicle token, and disguise redemption access consoles, and more. Now, let’s take the elevator to the helipad on the roof.

The LCPD has helipad sites all over LEGO City (you just have to build them, of course). From any helipad, Chase can call in a chopper to carry him to any other helipad location. Additionally, ferry docks are also available to transport Chase (you go to the same location, but sometimes, it looks cool if you arrive by boat). WAIT! What about the building of the helipad? How do you do that? Right, time to introduce you to LEGO City’s last collectible: the Super Brick!

Super Bricks are LEGO bricks that can be found by destroying anything made of plastic. So, it’s really easy to find them. What’re they used for? Super Builds! Wow. Creative name. Chase can use his accrued Super Bricks to build everything from helipads and Vehicle Call-In Points to soaring lighthouses.

So, what’s Chase doing when he’s not collecting stuff or taking missions? Taking mini-missions! Huh? Well, he’s got all those disguises and abilities! He might as well spend some spare time taking down petty robbers and repairing electric generators, among other tasks. In order to 100% the game, you’ll have to take care of all of these. Don’t worry, you have the scanner utility to help you find them, and the Start menu features a complete listing of everything else that you need to get done to 100% the area.

Okay, mini-missions have been discussed. What about Story missions? Well, they’re pretty linear, and the next mission waypoint is always displayed on your handy-dandy Touch Screen map. However, they can get a little repetitive. Fortunately, though, they never get so repetitive that you want to put the game down. Missions are sometimes a little zany, but remember: this is LEGO City! Stuff has to be a little zany. Now, about the actual storyline…

Don’t worry, no spoilers here. Just know that the animated cutscenes are funny and that the storyline is fairly well put together. However, Wii U gamers probably know most of what happens in this game. Voice acting is superb, it’s unfortunate that there isn’t more of it in this game.

Now, enough about Chase. It’s time to discuss other little details. For example, you can move the camera with the shoulder bumpers or the Touch Screen. That feature actually comes in very good handy. Also, load times. I will iterate again that The Chase Begins is open-world, but it does have to load when you switch from one district of LEGO City to another. Here’s the truth: one minute. That’s right. It can take a long time to load the next level. At least the guitar music that plays is cool…And don’t forget the fogging. This game uses extensive fogging to lighten the load on system resources. As such, buildings in the distance are always shrouded in pale blue fog. Passing vehicles and minifigures sometimes spawn a bit late, giving the impression that they materialized out of thin air. Players of the Wii U game will also complain that the buildings are less detailed.

Alright. Now with all that in mind, let’s consider the game. It’s not so great compared to the Wii U game, but it’s the best thing on a handheld. Also, it’s much cheaper. The only big sore to this game is the long load times. If you can deal with those (like me), this game is practically perfect on Nintendo 3DS. LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins verdict: Amazing.

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

Product Release: LEGO City Undercover: The Chase Begins (US, 04/21/13)

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