Lego Dimensions Review
- Developer/Publisher: Traveller's Tales/WB Games
- Platforms: Starter Packs, Lego sets included - PS4 ($99.99), PS3 ($99.99), Xbox One ($99.99), Xbox 360 ($99.99), Wii U ($99.99)
- PS4 version tested. Review copy provided by publisher.
Finally, a Lego game that can give you the complete Lego experience. Now not only can you see your Lego creations come to life in Lego Dimensions, but you can agonizingly step on them in the real world. That’s right, Lego has finally jumped into the digital toy genre that was created all those years ago with Skylanders.
It’s actually surprising that it took Lego this long to digitize their real life counterparts, allowing players young and old to take the game out of the screen all together. Of course, there is more to Lego in the real world than absent-mindedly stepping on some, and Dimensions fully exploits that. With the starter pack, you’ll find a cast of three unlikely friends, a dimensional drift machine and the Batmobile.
Seeing your favorite shows and games Legoified never gets old, and having them collide is as funny as you'd hope.
It not only makes playing the game more exciting as you build up the components as the disc installs on your device, but at the end you’re left with an interesting physical display of the game. Though it’s not always the case to build the real life sets while waiting for the screen to load. In fact, you’ll find your instruction manual missing quite a lot. Instead, you’ll need to progress the story in game in order to unlock virtual copies of the instructions you’ll need; this is a very clever way of pacing an activity a lot of players (myself included) would have completed before ever starting the game. It also makes it even more thrilling when you’re first given consent to begin building the Batmobile, knowing what that means for your in game experience.
Where Lego Dimensions can let the player down, however, is when you realize that the base set can feel a little underwhelming. For a series so well known for its enormous cast, you’ll be completing it with only three available characters without buying the equivalent of DLC. Each character you unlock has to be bought and paid for in the real world before they can be transferred to your dimension hopping adventure.
This really hits home as you explore the levels, often encountering set-pieces that can only be completed with certain, initially unavailable, characters. For the completionists out there, who yearn to make it rain Lego in every game they play, you will be forking out a lot in additional characters to do so.
What’s nice however is that if you don’t need to complete everything, you can take your time and select packs from a hugely staggering number of universes. There is something for everyone to collect, and I can only imagine that they intend to keep expanding this. Characters you might not have expected to appear in any Lego game feature as playable, and you won’t need to pay out in order to meet them either. The story has the player traverse dozens of worlds, each based on a different franchise and giving plenty for fans to get excited about.
Not only is there a lot of variety in the dimensions you’ll come across in the main game, but the game pitches them perfectly. The tone, and more importantly, the humor of each of these worlds is measured perfectly to appeal to fans of the source material. The Simpsons level features famous Springfield locations and trademarked slapstick humor, while Portal offers more dry and dark comedy.
Everything fits very neatly into the Lego game, and you’ll never have to worry about the Lego plastic motif feeling out of place, or mismatching the ambiance of any particular homage material. Even in the extra levels found in the character packs works hard to incorporate both Lego and the wider world as well. The extra levels available are very expensive to boot with hours worth of content if you intend to do everything, and although they don’t necessarily bring much diversity to the game, they do hold a lot more exploring to do; besides your new character will allow you to complete new parts of the original story as well.
On the face of it, Lego Dimensions feels very familiar to the other Lego games, as you stomp around the environment breaking everything you can and rebuilding whatever remains. Not much new has been added in terms of visible gameplay, with the games usual case of platforming and simple puzzle solving leading the way.
The biggest change in the Lego formula is the physicality of it. Like so many of these digital toy games, you have to place your characters on the pad to play as them on the screen. But the pad in Lego Dimensions is broken up into three sections and you will find yourself in need to swap them out into different sections for a variety of reasons.
The most common excuse is that a boss paralyses a certain area on the pad and you have to evacuate your characters to restore your movement. It’s a nice touch that keeps the game fresh and the player engaged. You’ll most often be working against the clock to do this as the game won’t be waiting for you to save yourself. It can be a little frustrating when your pad is quite crowded and you’re left scrambling to find room for everyone but it’s not particularly taxing. You don’t really need room for everyone either, as the characters can enter the level at any time and are very quick to appear, although it’s nice to see them altogether on screen.
The boss fights, despite this interesting new feature, are possibly Lego Dimension’s weakest aspect. This is because the developers have clearly wanted to emphasize the pad and its uses, but left the fight annoyingly uninstructed. You can spend quite some time, and many Lego lives, attempting to discern the bosses weakness, and it’s never made fully clear if you are doing the right thing. This is most obvious with the Cyber King in the Doctor Who world. I’m still not sure how to defeat it, although I did somehow manage. Although there is no real penalty for death, it is tremendously disappointing to be outwitted by a toy.
But that is one small aside in what is for the most part a stellar Lego title. For fans of the Lego games, this is another amusing addition that will explore Lego worlds you wouldn’t have seen otherwise. For fans of the franchises that it tenderly parodies, it is a wonderful excuse to explore. The price tag is a little daunting, and the extras a little unusual, but this feels like a game they will be building upon for quite some time.