When rumours of a LEGO toys-to-life game first surfaced, no-one could imagine just how ambitious the game would be. For a number of year Tt Games founder Jon Burton wanted to create bite-sized LEGO games which could be sold individually but linked together just like LEGO sets. But the technology of games consoles at the time couldn’t help realize this idea, fast forward to 2015 and LEGO Dimensions has finally arrived. After taking a closer look at the physical elements of the LEGO Dimensions Starter Pack, it’s now time to see how the game shapes up. It would of been easier enough to knock out a review last week but I wanted to spend plenty of time with the game, as much of the content is experienced after finishing the main story, I’ve been playing for a week and after finishing the main story and pottering around the various Hub Worlds it’s review time. So open a portal and jump into the review dimension.
What is LEGO Dimensions?
When a mysterious and powerful vortex suddenly appears in various LEGO worlds, different characters from DC Comics, The Lord of the Rings and The LEGO Movie are swept away. To save their friends, Batman, Gandalf and Wyldstyle bravely jump into the vortex and quickly find themselves fighting to save all of LEGO humanity.
Let creativity be the guide to a building and gaming adventure – journey through unexpected worlds and team-up with unlikely allies on the quest to defeat the evil Lord Vortech. Play with different minifigures from different worlds together in one LEGO videogame, and use each other’s vehicles and gadgets in a way never before possible. LEGO Bad Cop driving the DeLorean Time Machine…why not?! The LEGO Ninjago Masters of Spinjitsu fighting alongside Wonder Woman…yes, please! Get ready to break the rules, because the only rule with LEGO Dimensions is that there are no rules.
The LEGO Dimensions Starter Pack is all players need to begin – build the base and embark on a fantastic quest.
- Characters from a mix of brands join forces and battle in worlds outside of their own
- Bring up to seven minifigures, vehicles, and/or gadgets into the game all at once
- Players can let imagination guide their solo journey or have a friend join for co-op play
- The LEGO Toy Pad and game will offer continued compatibility with future expansions
- Includes: game, Toy Pad, bricks to build Gateway, three minifigures, and Batmobile
Since Tt Games first ventured into a brick-built galaxy, far, far away with the first ever LEGO Videogame, they have consistently delivered a whole host of titles which have re-imagined much loved LEGO themes and movie blockbusters. But despite endless awards and having multiple titles dotted about the all format game charts, LEGO Videogames are still overlooked by much of the gaming press. In a recent article by Eurogamer they reported on LEGO Jurassic World reaching number one in the charts, this was accompanied by the line “The game itself we haven’t, and probably won’t, review. It’s a typical LEGO game” this instant dismissal of LEGO Videogames really annoys me. LEGO Dimensions is far from your typical LEGO Videogame and for once the gaming press seems to be taking more notice of those little old LEGO games and so does the LEGO community. Most LEGO fan sites seem to distance themselves from LEGO games too, but thanks to the inclusion of physical LEGO elements this time round, interest in Warner’s first foray into the toys-to-life genre has peaked a lot of people’s interest.
The game builds on the much-loved and family friendly gameplay of previous LEGO titles, collecting studs, building LEGO structures and using the various character abilities to journey through a brick-filled adventure. This time round the action isn’t just focused on a single world, portals have appeared across the LEGO Multiverse and it’s up to three unlikely companions to join forces to save to worlds and minifigkind. In the lawless world of the toybox kids don’t care if He-man shouldn’t be riding around on a My Little Pony or if the cast of Star Wars figures team up with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to take down Barbie. While kids don’t have a problem with blending brands, companies aren’t so forthcoming with their own characters. Which makes the content included in LEGO Dimensions even more impressive. Lord of the Rings, DC Comics, The Wizard of Oz, Doctor Who, Back to the Future, The Simpsons, Portal 2 and Ghostbusters are just a handful of iconic brands included within the main game.
The game is filled with attention to detail and plenty of fan pleasing nods, from a stellar cast of actors reprising their roles right down to a brand new GLaDOS song from the Portal games composer Jonathan Coulton. Every single element of the game is a labour of love, Tt Games could’ve easily just chucked together a random world for LEGO sets to be placed in, but they have crafted a game which will last for many years to come. Gameplay is very familiar to previous LEGO titles with everything from collecting studs, Gold Bricks, Red Cheat Bricks and minikits all making a return. As does the team based Minifigure line-up, this time round however your core team of characters can instantly be joined by other characters simply by popping their physical form on the Toy Pad. Vehicles also play a greater part in your LEGO adventure, just like the minifigures they can instantly be introduced to the game via the Toy Pad and each one can be rebuilt into 3 different forms all of which offer different abilities and can be upgraded in-game, once enough of the upgrade tree is purchased the alternate builds become available and with it instructions to rebuild the physical version. Once rebuilt they can be written to the toy tag bases. Unlike other toys to life games the Toy Pad isn’t merely a device to add content into the game it also acts as an additional controller. During play there are elemental switches which bring the Toy Pad directly into the game, from opening up portals, to changing the size of characters, the Toy Pad contains colour changing lights which correspond to action on screen. You’ll be moving characters around to hit switches or mix colours, personally I love this as it offers something different and unique to the LEGO games.
There are a few little issues with LEGO Dimensions all of which are audio based. This seems to be a running problem with LEGO titles just recently. There are points within levels when the camera pans to certain areas of action, if a character is talking at the same time they are almost impossible to hear. The game was played through a full 5.1 sound system and this audio drop out only ever happens with LEGO titles. It’s even more annoying in LEGO Dimensions as there are some great moments based on much loved movie moments. The other issue for me is the Simpsons sections of game, both within the story and the additional Level Pack. Dan Castellaneta voices Homer but other Springfield residents are oddly mute, it may not of been possible to get all the cast to provide VO for their characters but surely it could’ve been possible to lift audio from Simpsons episodes. This is made even more confusing when a character who appears in story of the Level Pack is voiced via lifted episode VO. It may not seem like much but when so much effort has been put into to securing the various licenses and treating them all with the utmost love and respect, it’s very grating.
That being said you won’t be able to stop grinning from ear to ear as you tackle spooks in New York with the Ghostbusters or outwitting GLaDOS as Cave Johnson quips over the PA system. It really is a marvel to continue the story and see where you’ll end up next from Oz to Springfield, the Aperture Science Testing Chambers to Ninjago, and it’s one of the most ambitious LEGO games to date. It’s no surprise that it’s been in the works for a number of years and will continue to provide content well into 2017. Yes gameplay is familiar and for some this is an issue, but just like the LEGO System of Play which has been in use for over 50 years, if it isn’t broken why fix it. The Toy Pad is used to great effect both in terms of a LEGO set and within gameplay, adding a whole new dimension to levels. Despite the familiar elements of the game levels based on Portal 2 and the Midway Arcade titles offer a fun break from the norm.
As mentioned above once the main story is complete your adventure has only just begun. Each level can be replayed to collect some of the many you may have missed first time round, unlike other LEGO titles, if you own the minifigure of the character needed to tackle certainly sections you can instantly call them to action even during the first playthrough. But the most amount of fun to be had is in the various Hub Worlds, there is once for each minifigure available and can only be accessed when the relevant minfigure is active on the Toy Pad, so pop on a Ninjago Ninja and the portal to the Ninjago Hub World will open. These Hub Worlds are massive and filled with stuff to do, I headed into the Wizard of Oz Hub World just to see what it entailed and 4 hours later I still exploring.
There have been a number of reports from mainstream media, highlighting the high cost of LEGO Dimensions along with other Toys-to-life titles such as Skylanders and Disney Infinity. While buying every single set along with the Starter Pack can be quite costly, you only need the Starter Pack to complete the main story and all in-game Trophies and Achievements. Additional characters can added to the game via the Fun Packs and Team Packs. You can also expanded your gameplay with the Level Packs, which also added a themed level to play along with new characters, vehicles and gadgets. Instructions for this builds are all completed in-game. As soon as you place the relevant minifigure on the Toy Pad the instructions appear. Upgrading these with studs unlocks the other alternate builds meaning each set offers three different builds.
It will be interesting to see where other LEGO Videogames go from here. It will be difficult to see standalone titles released now when content can merely be added to LEGO Dimensions. This works both ways though we may never see a full console game based on say Nexo Knights but we could get a Nexo Knights Level Packs during 2016. It also seem to be a place for unsuccessful LEGO Ideas projects to gain a new lease of life, Wizard of Oz and Portal 2 both managed to get 10,000 supporters before falling at the final stage. In fact many of the minifigures, vehicles and gadget are exclusive the LEGO Dimensions range and even introduce brand new elements like Doc Brown’s new hair element and Chell’s Portal Gun.
You’re going to need a bigger imagination and a lot more shelf space. LEGO Dimensions is available now for PlayStation 3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Nintendo Wii U.
PlayStation 4 version played for review. Thanks to Warner Bros. UK for supplying a copy and to Ben Lawrence for putting up with my many emails.