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It’s time for a post-game smoke, where I give a few thoughts on a game as soon as possible after playing it. What do I think of Lego City Undercover? I wanted to like this game. I really, really wanted to like this game. But I just didn’t like this game.

What are your thoughts?

Transcript(ish)

It’s time for a post-game smoke, where I give a few thoughts on a game as soon as possible after playing it. As is the nature of this type of video, it’s short, quickly thrown together, and certainly rides emotional high or low of whatever game I just finished. I trade in-depth analysis for visceral reaction. Both are important, but I only offer one here. If you are new to the channel, I offer plenty of longer, more thought-out videos, so please stay and poke around  a bit.

The credits have rolled on Lego City Undercover, and I should be blissfully satisfied. This game is so bright, so colorful, so playful, so competently funny, but so, so, so boring. And I hate describing games using the term “boring” because boredom is usually a symptom for something more sophisticated, something that by using the term “boring” I’m just masking my inability to properly articulate the real problem. So, maybe that’s what I’m doing here, and therefore it’s worth ripping back the mask in hopes of a better diagnosis.

Now, I’m willing to accept that I’m not of sound enough mind to review this game properly–as improper a Post-Game Smoke Review already is by nature–because I played over 20 hours of this game. Willingly engaging, day after day, in something so consistently boring while expecting a shift to an exciting experience, is the definition of insane…or something like that. So maybe that’s the best place to start: why did I keep playing? There must have been something redeeming to this game.

Over the last few weeks playing Lego City Undercover had replaced my usual nightly, sleep-inducing ritual involving a shot of NyQuil and a low-volume stand-up comedy playlist. Not having that medically-induced laugh stupor parachute, I was forced to free-fall into Lego City Undercover. As boredom ensued, though, I found myself not turning off the game, but instead turning toward the TV where my wife had been streaming re-runs of the 90’s family sitcom Roseanne. In summary, Lego City Undercover has not its writing, not its gameplay, not its visuals, not its story to credit for me staying invested, but rather it has Rosanne to thank. And I have Rosanne to thank for reminding me just how awesome my wife is. A woman with a love for Rosanne is a woman after my own heart.

I’ve played one other Lego game–the Lego Movie game–which I thoroughly enjoyed. So why does Lego City Undercover, a game that should be even better considering it’s an open world game–a genre seemingly made for a Lego game–fall so short? The world is much too sparse, and the collectables within it are too inconsequential to the player’s progression and they are too finicky. Bricks will animate for full seconds before they can be gathered, forcing the player to overrun them and switch back 180 degrees every time to collect. But perhaps most responsible for Lego City Undercover’s failure compared to the Lego Movie is that the Lego Movie story and writing are engaging, while Lego City Undercover is simply bland. I hoped for a Grand Theft Auto meets Lego, and that’s what we have. But I’m reminded that an open world is nothing without narrative glue. Lego City Undercover attempts to substitute this glue with humor, but the humor is slapstick to the point of distraction, irreverent without the narrative hooks to make that irreverence work, and simply overall ineffectual.

Lego City Undercover is probably my least favorite game ever that I still completed. Perhaps that means something.

Tell me in the comment if you’ve played Lego City Undercover. What did you think of it? Are the other Lego games better? If so, which ones? Should I give up on Lego games entirely?

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Thank you for watching.

The following are YouTube videos licensed under CC BY 3.0

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsFvbzQoM9g
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RUOnuSAGgc

Music Credits

  • 8bit Dungeon Level Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com), Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

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