Announcement and Development
The game was announced as LEGO City Stories at E3 2011 during the Nintendo Press Conference for Wii U. At E3 2012 a trailer was shown and the game was revealed to be named LEGO City Undercover. The Nintendo 3DS game, Lego City Undercover: The Chase Begins is a prequel.
LEGO City Undercover takes place in the eponymous LEGO City, a popular line of LEGO toy sets dating back to 1978. It follows detective Chase McCain as he tries to stop the villain Rex Fury (again). At the start of the game the player arrives at the city on a large cargo ship and is sent to check in with the police department. There he meets officer Honey, who shows him around and gets him situated at the precinct. Rex Fury has escaped imprisonment and needs to be stopped. He is somehow responsible for all of the crime in the city.
Undercover plays similarly to many of the previous LEGO games from TT Games. The primary difference is the fully realised open world sandbox. Unlike LEGO Lord of the Rings and LEGO Batman 2, which had started to move in the open world direction, Undercover is a complete sandbox. Its closest inspirations are clearly games like GTA IV and Batman Arkham City.
Combat is not particularly different from other LEGO games. It's a very basic system. Traversal in the world is similarly untouched. The main new feature that changes the feel of the game is driving. Being a complete city, there are now numerous vehicles to get around in, all of which have different stats and break apart when crashed.
Collectibles are no longer limited to relatively linear levels. With an entire city to play with, TT have placed collectibles everywhere. They can unlock characters and costumes, and some require back tracking a bit with new abilities to reach.
Missions work in a similar manner to most open world games. The player takes a mission and has to use the Wii U gamepad to set GPS coordinates. Occasionally the gamepad is used to scan the environment or look for clues (shoe prints). Most of the missions will involve some mix of driving, platforming, puzzle solving, and fighting.
The game was released on Mar 18, 2013 in North America and Mar 28, 2013 in PAL territories. It is available in both physical retail locations and as a Nintendo eShop download. For base Wii U models with 8GB of storage an external hard drive is required to purchase the game digitally. Deluxe Wii U models with 32GB do not require an external hard drive, but the game will take up 20GB of space once downloaded.
In PAL territories at launch there is a Limited Edition available which comes with a Chase McCain minifigure.