I have to make a confession before I start, I haven’t played LEGO City Undercover for the Wii U. From what I’ve heard, it’s vastly superior to The Chase Begins. That said, having just finished The Chase Begins, I know I’ll be picking up Undercover soon enough. While this game has many flaws, it has a certain charm that’s hard to ignore. While there are far better games to pick up on the 3DS, The Chase Begins proves to be a nice diversion from all the other heavy hitters.
The characters! The Chase Begins has some amazing personalities in it. TT Games does a great job of taking goofy stereotypes and turning them into memorable characters. You’ve seen all of these types before. There’s the donut-eating, pain in the butt police officer who makes you do all the work, and then blames you for everything that goes wrong. There’s the sexy journalist that the main character falls in love with, and of course has to be rescued at some point. Every boss is bad just so you can take them on, and so much more. It’s the dialogue that makes everything worth it though. This is a kids game, and even an adult like myself had quite a few laughs. The voice-acted cut-scenes are really well done with some great throwbacks to several classic buddy cop movies. This is a prequel to the Wii U version, so fans of that game might want to check this one out just for the storyline.
+ You acquire different powers as you advance through the game, letting you explore more of the city and helping you solve different puzzles in a variety of ways. It helps prevent the game from becoming stale.
+ Fun open-world environment. Simply picking up different cars and driving around looking for goodies is always entertaining.
+ Lots of gameplay. While the game only took me five hours to complete, I had a stunning 19% completion rating attached to my save file. If you want to look for every last unlockable, expect to spend a good dozen hours in this world.
+ The boss fights are a blast to play. They all present you with a different challenge and are greatly entertaining. Good stuff.
+ The second screen is perfect for open-world exploration thanks to the excellent map.
+ Perfect kids game. If you have a young one around who plays with a 3DS, stop reading this review and get him this game. They won’t care about all the flaws, and just enjoy the characters and the LEGO world.
– Extremely repetitive. The missions don’t really differ from one another. Most are pretty short so it’s not that tedious, but you’ll get tired of always doing the same tasks after a while. Even the puzzles have potential, but the game basically tells you exactly what to do every single time by putting a wave point on where to go with an attached symbol of which power needed to advance.
– Dull combat. No challenge whatsoever, and limited fun besides the bosses. Press Y or X until you get a chance to cuff your foe. Almost impossible to get hit. If you do die, you spawn back right away. Yawn.
– Ridiculous load times. You have to wait a minute or two just to get started every time you boot the game up. Same thing happens when you change areas within a city. That doesn’t happen that much but it’s still very annoying.
– Graphical limits of the 3DS really show here. Texture pop ups are everywhere. I once saw only wheels on a car until I drove right behind it. The draw distance is also unimpressive, with lots of fog to limit processing. Don’t expect to see very far in front of you. Good effort, but you can see that this game was a little too ambitious for the 3DS.
– Buttons sometimes go M.I.A. Not a game-changer, but when for no apparent reason a button press doesn’t do anything, or the touch screen icons stop working, you know you’ve got a game that required a bit more debugging.
The LEGO City series is a fantastic use of the LEGO franchise, however this 3DS outing suffers from being on inferior hardware. You can tell that the developers tried to replicate the same experience offered on the Wii U, but the results came up just a bit short. While there’s still much fun to be had with The Chase Begins, I can only recommend it to hardcore LEGO fans and young-lings. Check it out if you’re curious, or simply opt for the superior LEGO City Undercover on the Wii U.
Final Score: 6.5/10