Lego City Undercover is probably the best Lego title from a gameplay standpoint. TT Fusion proves that you can have an open world game that kids can enjoy as much as adults. The story is fun to watch unfold in front of you, and the characters are actually enjoyable. And the fact that there is a Dirty Harry spoof early on in the game means that it’ll be sure to please even the most jaded of the older generation of gamers. But not everybody will get a change to enjoy this game.
For starters, players with visual impairments will have some issues with this title, because both of its major new gameplay mechanics rely on either fine detail or the ability to see color. To begin with, Lego City Undercover features a new currency system called super blocks, which appear when Chase McCain breaks Lego structures around him. The only problem is that these super blocks tend to get lost in the pile of regular blocks also created by destroying objects. And by the time the regular blocks fade away, players will have to be very quick if they want to avoid missing the super blocks, since they also disappear after a short interval. Players should be sure to check every pile of bricks that they create, in order to avoid missing out on the game’s new currency.
The other major mechanic that visually impaired players will struggle with is changing disguises. This is because this mechanic requires players to be able to see a spectrum of colors. For example, Chase might come to a boarded up door that requires a fireman’s suit in order to get through it. This is indicated by a red circle on the ground in front of the door. After that he might need to switch back to his cop uniform, indicated by a blue circle. There are several different disguises that he can use, all of which are indicated by small colored circles on the ground that can be hard to distinguish even without a visual impairment.
The good news is, the game is incredibly forgiving, and uses the Wii U’s gamepad well. In previous Lego games, even though there was a difference between the colors of studs (which the player collected to unlock characters and vehicles), because the point was to collect as many studs as possible, the colors didn’t really matter. However, in Lego City Undercover, because of the game’s open world, developers used green ghost studs to guide players through Lego City. As a result, when navigating the metropolis, some studs that the player runs through may not be worth anything. The only difference is the color. However, because of the way the game uses the Wii U’s gamepad, this is not a barrier. Instead of relying on the green studs, players can simply look at the mini-map and follow the line that has been traced from where they are to where they need to go. This also means that the map in the game is larger and easier to see, thanks to its position on the gamepad.
The way the Wii U gamepad is implemented will not help all disabled players. The biggest barrier for fine motor impaired players will be that they will have to hold the gamepad up and look through it to hunt for hidden criminals in the environment. This is perhaps the single most unforgiving barrier in the game. But there are others. The controls are extremely imprecise, and players can expect to find themselves falling to their doom during a platforming level because McCain moved farther than they expected when they flicked the joystick. Combine that with the fact that there is absolutely no controller customization and the only thing that saves Lego City Undercover from being completely inaccessible for those with fine motor disabilities is its forgiving nature. Players have an infinite number of lives. They simply lose some of their studs every time they die. After they lose all their studs, they continue dying without penalty. And while this may hamper the unlocking of certain rewards on individual levels, it will not affect the overall progress, because there are tons of studs throughout the game for the player to pick up.
However, there is one more choice that TT fusion made that will limit the amount of enjoyment players with fine motor disabilities can get out of this game. This game features more quick time events than any other Lego title I have played. And while it is true that these are generally pretty forgiving, they are very prevalent in the game and may pose a barrier to some people with fine motor issues.
The only group of disabled gamers who will be able to enjoy this game unhindered are those with auditory disabilities. This is because every line of the game’s story-driven dialogue is displayed in large, readable subtitles. In addition, all of the game quirky ambient dialogue is displayed this way. And because nothing in the game seems to rely solely on sound, those with auditory disabilities should have no problem enjoying Lego City Undercover.
In closing, Lego City Undercover is arguably the best Lego game the franchise has ever seen. But unless you have an auditory disability you should be wary in purchasing this game because of some of the barriers it poses for those with visual and fine motor problems.
Please feel free to leave comments below the article that address your particular accessibility challenges with this game. If you feel there is a major omission in this review, please feel free to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with the word “revision” in the subject line. Please include specific details regarding anything we may have missed. If necessary, we will update our review based on your feedback.
The Bottom Line for Disabled Gamers: Lego City Undercover
– The art style is overstated and there is very little fine detail that players need to be aware of.
– The mini-map appears on the Wii U’s gamepad, making it large and easy to read.
– The game’s critical mechanic of swapping disguises requires the player to be able to distinguish between the spectrum of colors.
– The new currency, super bricks, appear when Lego structures are smashed and can often be confused for background bricks if players can’t see which bricks sparkle and which bricks don’t.
– The game is very forgiving.
– The controls are imprecise.
– The game features large, easy to read subtitles.
– Not much in the game seems to rely on sound.
– The game’s ambient dialogue is subtitled.