LEGO City: Secret Agent – game review.
In March 2013, the reviewers agreed – thanks to LEGO City: Secret Agent, fast Wii U owners received an excellent exclusive production. Four springs later, the biggest game in the history of the series can also be checked by the owners of PS4, XOne, Switch and PC. Is the port of a few years’ position from the Nintendo console still a title worth buying?
The secret agent, once released on the Wii U under the original title LEGO City: Undercover, was an important game at the time of its release for at least two reasons. It was the first major production dedicated exclusively to Big N equipment since November 2012, motivating players to dust off recently acquired boxes. More importantly, however, he proved beyond doubt that there is still a lot of potential in the formula invented by Traveller’s Tales. Undercover, although prepared with an unpopular platform in mind, paradoxically turned out to be the most extensive and simply the best episode of the LEGO series, attracting even people who did not like the previous games licensed by Danish bricks. As the publisher was Nintendo itself, it seemed that this title would never appear on competitors’ equipment, thankfully Warner Bros. released the Secret Agent to all major platforms today. Although many items from the LEGO series have appeared on the market since March 2013, the old Undercover is still the manufacturer’s pinnacle achievement.
“Yippee ki-yay, !”
An undercover agent tells the story of LEGO City policeman Chase McCain, who returns to town to capture the escaped prisoner Rex Fury. It quickly turns out that the only way to get close to the villain is to infiltrate several criminal groups operating in the metropolis. The undercover Chase performs tasks for both the triad and the Italian mafia, and an additional motivation for him is the fact that Fury hunts for the great love of the officer, blonde Natalia Kowalska. However, forget about scenes of violence or vulgar dialogues, because Undercover is primarily aimed at a younger audience. This, in turn, the plot in the production of TT Fusion should follow with interest, because the authors once again showed a great sense of humor, serving a funny story full of crazy twists and nice characters. McCain is impossible to dislike, his gosh partner Frank steals practically every scene, just like commissioner-donut-eater or crazy gang bosses. Even episodic characters are remembered, such as an exceptionally unlucky farmer, a sheriff sipping coffee all day, his extremely “intelligent” squirrel or an injured thief who believes that since he usually steals on Tuesdays, no one else should get in his parade, because the term “organized crime” obliges us to do something. The story clearly unfolds at the beginning of the second act and does not slow down until the end credits, which we watch after about fourteen hours of play, taking into account, of course, only the main plot missions.
It is worth emphasizing that their parents can play with the Secret Agent as well as children. The authors of the script took a closer look at cult action films from the 80s and 90s, repeatedly referring to the heroes of those pictures or even parodying entire sequences. What won’t we find here? A couple of lovers perform on the ship similar “stunts” as Jack and Rose in “Titanic”, one of the prisoners with the manner of Morgan Freeman from “The Shawshank Redemption” tells about the music played by McCain in the warden’s office, the main character’s training is reminiscent of Morpheus lessons in “Matriksie”, the clown bank robbery draws handfuls from “The Dark Knight”, at one point “Starsky and Hutch” enter the scene, and one of the characters cites the advertising slogan of the first “Alien”. My favorite moment, however, is the parody of the famous scene from “Gang Boys”, when Chase, like Ray Liotta, shows the accompanying person around the restaurant, exchanging funny nicknames of other types from under the dark star – all in one shot, just like in the Martin Scorsese classic. Careful gamers will also catch more subtle references to hits and stars from two or three decades ago. The name of the police commissioner is Marion, which is the same name as Sylvester Stallone in Cobra, with the only difference that his character is more like Chief Cobretti. The fire chief is none other than Robert De Niro from “Fire Blast”, you will also be knocked down by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “performance”, who traditionally directs his subordinates to the helicopter and announces that he will return. All of this is just the tip of the iceberg! Huge applause for the authors.
“I’m flying… Jack!”
In the four years that have passed since the game’s premiere on the Wii U, many of you have heard the comparisons of Undercover to the hit series Rockstar Games, or terms like “LEGO Grand Theft Auto”. This is a bit of an exaggeration, because compared to modern blockbusters with an open world, the area of activities in LEGO City is not that extensive, but compared to other titles in the series, it is a real colossus, but above all it impresses with its huge diversity. The creators prepared an excellent stew, throwing fragments characteristic of large American urban centers (Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Miami), Italian (Pisa, Venice) and Asian (Taipei, Japanese dojo) architecture into one city, additionally diversifying the landscape with such places like forests, a farm, a mine, a space center, a medieval castle, an island prison or … a base on the moon. Traveling around this fantastic, block-like world is pure pleasure, especially since there are a lot of means of transport. Cars, motorcycles, boats and helicopters are standard vehicles, as are tractors, trams, trains and cranes. How about a ride in a lunar rover, a space saucer, a T-Rex skeleton or a roller? The driving model is obviously “block-like”, and crashing is only punished in story tasks, thanks to which road pirates can live for all times. LEGO City, full of attractions, is a perfect antidote for those who are bored with the monotonous Mafia III, because the multitude of main missions and their diversity is another strong point of TT Fusion’s work.
The framework of the gameplay is similar to other games licensed from LEGO, but setting the action in a large, open environment and perfect mixing of individual gameplay elements resulted in an explosive mixture. In general, we try to get to inaccessible places, we take part in chases, and we also fight, but I would be lying if I wrote that I was bored for even a minute. As this time we only control Chase McCain, we gain access to various skills by donning one of the eight costumes that we unlock as we progress through the game. As a robber, we open locked doors, manipulate switches with a paint gun, and break into safes. While wearing a farmer’s outfit, water the plants necessary for climbing and glide at the hen’s legs, while the miner is the only one who can carry explosives. Practically in each of the fifteen story missions we have to juggle with all available costumes, but the dominant one seems to be the uniform of the policeman. This is due to the Chase communicator, which, even in the version for Sony and Microsoft platforms, resembles a GamePad for Wii U. The tool is necessary when we need to look for traces on the ground, eavesdrop on thugs, track items and take photos. In the original, the authors made great use of the Nintendo controller, thanks to which the virtual world merged with the real one. On PS4 / XOne it was impossible, but the developer successfully implemented this gadget in the game, as did the authors of ZombiU two years ago. It is a pity that, apart from the main quests, other activities are limited only to gathering (several categories of collectibles), building a superstructure and completing time trials (parkour, car theft, etc.).
“Dillon, you son of a !”
After completing story missions, which can be optionally repeated to find all items, an ocean of collectibles awaits fans of gathering, but the typical side quests characteristic of modern open-world games have not been implemented here. I was hoping that the new version would include at least a few additional missions from the 3DS prequel The Chase Begins, unfortunately it did not happen. However, couch co-op fans will be happy, because unlike the original, the developer has prepared a cooperation mode, where the other player can jump into the game at any time. Another flaw that was eliminated was the data loading time. The edition on the Wii U was disastrous in this respect, attacking with thirty-second loadings when entering a closed location, and sometimes minutes when returning to the map. On PlayStation 4, this time can be expressed in about ten seconds, which is a huge improvement. Visually, the Secret Agent will not bring anyone to their knees, especially those who already have LEGO Worlds behind them. Aliasing, average-quality textures and some low-resolution movies leave no doubt that we are dealing with a port of a several-year-old title, but in general, the game on modern equipment looks decent, mainly due to the adopted style and 1080p. Younger players will be happy to hear about a well-made cinema location. The original voices were left unchanged, but it’s hard to criticize because English voice-acting is a first-class job.
Released in March 2013, LEGO City: Secret Agent was praised for almost everything, on the minus side only the lack of any form of cooperation and long loading times. These Felery were eliminated four years later, it is a pity that the producer did not make any effort in the subject of new content or a significant improvement in graphics. It does not change the fact that Undercover is still the largest and best project of all the zero-one-level LEGO games, attractive both for younger players and their parents. A very strong proposition not only for fans of Danish bricks.