LEGO City: Undercover

Traveller's Tales' latest proves that Lego games don't need a licence to charm.

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Lego City Undercover on Switch holds up well against PS4

Digital FoundryLego City Undercover on Switch holds up well against PS4

Significantly revamped over Wii U, with higher resolution than Xbox One.

It's been fascinating to see just how well Nintendo's Switch has adapted to existing engine technologies. So far we've seen the machine cope admirably with Unreal Engine 4 and Unity, and we were curious to see how the Traveller's Tales Lego engine holds up. Lego City Undercover is actually a four-year-old Wii U release, recently revamped with the latest version of the Lego engine and now available on PS4, Xbox One - and of course, Switch.

The core gameplay remains much the same as it was back in 2013 on Nintendo's last machine, but the Lego titles do feel somewhat timeless: on current-gen systems, this release still feels fun and fresh and the comedy is evergreen. From a technical perspective, Traveller's Tales and co-development studio TT Fusion might have been tempted to roll out a straight Wii U port for Switch - it's not as if we're short of them on the platform - but in fact, the latest Nintendo machine has most of the feature-set of the PS4 and Xbox One releases, with a couple of surprises in places.

For the most part, Switch dials back on some visual elements - as you would expect from a less powerful piece of hardware. However, the developer mixes and matches level of detail settings, so while PS4 and Xbox One are typically richer from a visual perspective, there are some surprises - mesh fences draw in sooner on Nintendo's machine, for example. Then there's resolution: Switch in docked mode is a match for PlayStation 4's full 1080p (it's native 720p on the go) but curiously, the Xbox One release uses anamorphic pixels, meaning a sub-native horizontal pixel count. Resolution is only one element of a game's visual make-up -

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Lego City Undercover re-release gets first trailer

Lego City Undercover re-release gets first trailer

Coming to Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4 and Xbox One.

This year's buffed-up re-release of Lego City Undercover has just gotten its first trailer.

The enjoyable Wii U game was previously exclusive to the console - but is not set to live again on Nintendo Switch, Steam, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Without the forensic lens of Digital Foundry's gaze it's difficult to draw too many conclusions, but we're still looking forward to the game getting a wider audience after its upcoming relaunch.

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Lego City Undercover review

There have been a few missteps along the way, but in general the last decade of Lego games made by Traveller's Tales have been fantastic. The innate qualities of Lego - its universally understood design, its magnetic tactility and its inspirational capacity to be anything you can imagine - have been hitched to the deep worlds of licensed properties like Star Wars, Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings, and brought to life by the magical potential for games to let players build and destroy things in seconds, whatever the scale. It's become the formula where everyone wins.

Even so, Lego City Undercover - an open-world matinee crime romp following an undercover cop's adventures in the plastic metropolis - was a risk. The Lego City line of models may be among the Danish toy company's top performers, but while fire-trucks and police cars may appeal to a seven-year-old on spec, the rest of us take more convincing. Even the kids may balk; past Lego games have involved collecting thousands - millions - of coin-like studs which can be invested to unlock new characters for use in Free Play, but how can a security guard, a limo driver or an ambulance worker hope to capture anyone's imagination to the same extent as a Han Solo or Professor Snape? Wouldn't you go straight to the exit rather than pausing to collect anything?

Lego City Undercover answers this challenge in a sensible way: it distracts you from it for so long that it becomes irrelevant. You still collect studs - millions of them - and you still use them to unlock alter egos and vehicles that you can have heli-dropped at locations around Lego City, but now there's another currency that takes precedent. Super Bricks, left behind when you smash items of scenery, can be saved up and spent on 'Super Builds' - large structures like fairground rides, ramps and suspension bridges, which often have gameplay implications and are assembled in fast-motion as a swooning camera salivates all over them.

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