Throughout the years, Travellers Tales has established itself as the go-to studio for making a definitive Lego game experience. Just look at their rundown of titles over the years. Not one but three different Star Wars games, two Indiana Jones games, two Harry Potter games, a Pirates of the Caribbean compilation, and, most recently, a Lego Lord of the Rings trilogy that caps off Peter Jackson's previous film trilogy.
While all these efforts have been good when it comes to putting players into fun co-op situations, battling enemies and solving puzzles, it doesn't quite set the stage for setting up something entirely new. We've seen these stories before, despite the comedic flair of the Lego characters and surroundings. Why Travellers Tales didn't work on something more original, we could never guess.
It looks like that situation is going to be rectified early next year when Travellers, under the name TT Fusion, will release Lego City Undercover, an open-world third-person Lego adventure with a completely original theme and plenty of criminal antics to break up. It's lined up to be a Wii U exclusive release, taking advantage of the GamePad hardware and giving players of all ages plenty of goals to shoot for – even if you don't necessarily use a handgun on duty. (Relax, you've got techniques galore to use for dispensing justice.)
The story follows an undercover cop named Chase McCain, a member of the Lego City police force, as he sets out to bust a variety of criminals throughout the city. As the name suggests, you'll be able to take part in various activities using disguises, first earning the trust of a few particular criminals before you move in and bust them. But this is no routine cop drama – TT Fusion is putting a lot of effort into the game so that players of all ages will have something to enjoy.
There are some minor things that have Lego City Undercover share traits with Grand Theft Auto. Being able to roam around in a huge, bustling Lego City, for instance, gives you miles to run, either on the ground below or hanging around buildings. However, instead of stealing cars and creating havoc, you're fighting with justice on your side, bringing in criminals and racking up some cool bonuses as a result.
The game gives you some clever abilities that you can use throughout, whether it's swinging across poles overhead to reach the top of another building with ease, or using wall jumps to get to other places. Chase can also engage in Lego-style combat with certain enemies, bringing them down to size before hauling them in.
A deeper strategy lies beneath Lego City Undercover, and that mainly involves the disguises you'll run across. As mentioned before, these will help you blend in better with the criminal element than just your cop uniform (which is bound to raise some attention), but they also provide you with better capabilities in some situations. For instance, one mission will require you to break the locks off of a safe.
On his own, Chase isn't quite able to do that. However, don him in a robber's uniform and he can break them with ease, as part of his tie-ins with the mission. Other outfits will pop up over the course of the game, each adding something new to Chase's growing repertoire of abilities.
Since the game is a Nintendo exclusive (at least, that's how it's being lined up at first), TT Fusion is actually including a few winks to the company's classic games as part of its fun presentation. At one point, you'll be able to build and use a warp pipe, along the same lines as Mario, to get from place to place. This will help you get around the city faster, rather than running around or driving in real time to get there.
Travellers Tales' Lego games have gotten a lot bigger over the years since the ol' days of Lego Indiana Jones and Star Wars, and Lego City Undercover is the company's most expansive to date. As we stated, you've got miles to cover here, and with the help of the GamePad display screen, you'll be able to get around with ease and see where criminal acts are taking place. The more you do, the more you'll unlock, including gold bricks, extra disguises and more. For those of you who have wished you could get "more" out of a Lego experience, well, you're about to get it.
Now all that's left is the wait. Lego City Undercover was initially set to arrive in time for the Wii U's launch, but is now coming in early 2013. However, the wait should be worth it, especially if you've been interested in seeing what TT Fusion can do with its own original property. We'll find out in just a few months time…