Lego City Undercover: The Chase Begins (3DS/3DS XL) is the handheld version - in fact prequel - of the recent Wii U open-world crime fighting adventure.
The title takes the story of Chase McCain, Lego City's top undercover police officer, back to his days as a lowly recruit. McCain is tasked first with fighting low-level crime in the district around the under-construction police station, before eventually taking on the top dogs in the Lego gang scene.
While the story is completely new, many of the gameplay mechanics are very familiar from the Wii U title. Impressively, much of the same open world environment, variety of missions and massive number of unlockable MiniFigs and vehicles (70 and 50 respectively) make it into the handheld game. So does the variety of gameplay, including vehicle chases, smash-and-build puzzles, platforming and power-ups.
It's not as long as the Wii U version, unfortunately, but at 10 hours and with a number of collectibles and side quests, it's still pretty good value.
It also goes without saying that Travellers' Tales now trademark humour and loveable physical hijinks make it in as well - and since that's always been the heart of Lego games, that's pretty crucial. It's another genuinely funny, warm game from the TT team.
Also like the Wii U version, sadly, the game also suffers from many technical issues. Lego City is massive, but the 3DS struggles to cope with the scale and detail of the game world. Long loading times and 'fog of war' combine with frame rate woes to make the game feel pretty ropey from time to time.
That said, in our experience the technical issues weren't as troubling as on the Wii U version, and in general it seemed to run smoothly enough so that younger players wouldn't notice.
The result is a pretty strong Lego game, full of details, varied missions and gameplay, but one which like its console counterpart isn't quite able to match up with the bigger franchised entries in the series. Yes, it's a fun outing, and it's great to see Lego strike out on its own away from the crutch of Star Wars and Batman licenses, but in lacking a bit of polish it falls a bit short of true greatness.
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