Reviews

From time to time I get asked if I’ll review ‘family’ products. All too often they’re not relevant (nursing bra company, I’m looking at you…) but when they are, then I’m happy to work with the brands concerned. Here’s the first of them – all the reviews are going to be scrupulously honest, written in the ‘Best Dad’ style and it goes without saying that they are all sponsored by the relevant company. The first of them is below. And if you’ve a 9 year old boy you need to keep quiet on a long journey, it might just be the answer. 

LEGO CITY UNDERCOVER ON THE NINTENDO 3DS

So here we are again, Ben and I back on the sofa. This time I’m under no illusions. I’m not even going to try and compete with my youngest son. He has a Nintendo DS in his hand and as you might imagine, I have a long line of failures filed under the DS column.

Mario, Legend of Zelda, Professor Layton. Tried ’em. Failed at ’em. When you have two boys, you realise that your role in life is simple. Pay for it. Try it. Be humiliated. Leave them to it. Open a beer. Convince yourself you were unlucky…

But enough of this self-pity. Number two son and his Dad were working. We’d played Lego City Undercover on the Wii U – and seriously enjoyed it despite my unfortunate suicide by driving into the harbour. Now we were on its little brother.

Lego City Undercover: the Chase Begins is a prequel. It follows rookie cop Chase McCain as he learns his trade on a series of aspiring baddies. And it’s migrated to the 3DS – which means you lose the interaction between the Wii U’s hand controller and the TV screen. There’s less of the feel of actually being in a cop movie. You don’t get to chat to the Sharon Osbourne lookalike Ellie Phillips, whose Mississippi drawl is such a feature of the Wii U version.

So is the game on the 3DS better than the Wii U version? Is it worse? Nope; it’s different. And it’s aimed at a different audience. Even a total gaming has-been like me knows that all games depend on the platform you play them on. Take your favourite PC game; play it on the Xbox and you don’t like it. So comparisons across platforms are pointless.

…Which is good, because I’m not qualified to talk about load times and game play and screen resolution. As a parent, I am qualified to answer a very simple question. Did my son enjoy the game? Yes, he did.

He fought gangs, chased them in any vehicle he could commandeer, frequently changed his appearance, captured the baddie and moved on to the next level. From the small amount Ben allowed me to play the story line was convincing and world created for the game was entirely believable.

So here are the questions that parents need answering:

Will my son enjoy this game? From age 7 or 8 up, yes he will. Very much.

We’re driving to Scotland. Can Chase be relied upon to occupy my son for the whole journey? He sure can, ma’am. Unfortunately he can also be relied upon to occupy your son when his Geography homework needs doing…

Is it good value for money? Lego City Undercover: the Chase Begins seems to retail for around £28 – so ‘yes’ is the answer to your question. And it will make an awesome birthday present from Grandma…