Five Years with LEGO City: Undercover

This is the fourth time I’ve played LEGO City: Undercover. I picked it up when it first came out, back in March of 2013 (five years ago!), and I loved it. I even wrote about how much I loved the giant, open city, filled with hilarious asides and hidden secrets. LEGO City is by all accounts a LEGO Grand Theft Auto, and it’s done exceptionally well.

I finished the game back when it came out on Wii U, and then over the years, I traded it in. When my son started to grow (as kids apparently do) and took his own interest in video games, I knew that LEGO City would be a great option for him to run around and do his own thing. At almost 3 years old, he took to it immediately, exploring the city and learning game mechanics on his own.

Being a toddler and unable to read, story progression became a problem for him. So, I took to playing the game at night, unlocking new disguises and abilities, allowing him to further his adventures when he awoke the next day. When the remastered edition ended up on Switch, I knew this would be a good way to continue his play over to the new console. He complained to me for a month between our purchase of the console with Super Mario Odyssey and Christmas: “This is awesome, but when can we get LEGO City? I love this, Daddy! But… when can we get LEGO City?”

When he received the game for Christmas, he was elated…. until he realized that he didn’t have the same game progress as he did on the Wii U version. Being the wonderful father that I am (and desperately wanting to end the complaints), I spent another 20 hours between Christmas and New Years, playing through LEGO City: Undercover for a third time, ensuring that my son could get that jetpack that he wanted.

My son is capable when it comes to video games. He learns pretty well on his own, relying on the games to teach him through gameplay rather than text. He finished Super Mario Odyssey almost entirely on his own (I helped with boss fights) at age 3, and this was after accidentally restarting his save file halfway through the game. He made his way back through what he had deleted, and things were great. But then he erased his LEGO City data.

I am now finding myself playing through LEGO City: Undercover for the fourth time in five years, almost to the day. And I still love it! It’s at Nintendo-level polish; there’s still a lot of reliance on text and the guidance towards goals isn’t as intuitive as, say, Mario. But, it’s still a fantastic title that rewards exploration and reiteration. Returning to missions with new abilities always brings rewards, and the sheer amount of vehicles, disguises, and Super Builds across the map is staggering.

The remastered edition for Switch, PS4, and Xbox One added in co-operative play, allowing my son and I to tackle this latest play through together. This relieves me of the burden of playing quickly while he sleeps, and also allows me to teach him how to read a minimap or follow direction markers. Best of all, it’s extra face time I get with my son without his face pressed up to the Switch screen.

I’m not in love with the situation that requires me to play LEGO City: Undercover again. But, for all the work I’ve sunk into this title, I still enjoy it as much as I did five years ago. This time, I also get to see it through my son’s eyes. And for him, every moment spent in LEGO City is a brand new adventure.


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