LEGO Dimensions brings toys to life in this wickedly inventive offering by developer Traveller’s Tales. It is their most ambitious LEGO game to boot. Movie franchises collide and spark with virtual-physical play to create a completely compelling addition to the toy-video game hybrid genre. In all fairness, Traveller’s Tales have had their work cut out for them.
LEGO Dimensions is an addition to the long list of intricately designed and fast moving toys-to-life genre games where Disney Infinity and Skylanders Superchargers have already eked out a devoted fan base and LEGO Dimensions rises up to the challenge with aplomb, both in terms of quality as well as striking a balance between the value and cost of each experience.
The Starter Pack has three mini-figures and one vehicle, along with the Toy Pad USB peripheral that is used to scan every element into the game. However, in order to gain access to any of the fourteen different film franchise worlds, you will have to make a few additional purchases.
You can start your game as one of the three characters that come out of the box, Gandalf, Batman, or Wyld Style. You will need additional packs which are sold separately to gain access to more heroes. Every pack lets you unlock a character along with their open world. Level packs let you play a new level in a campaign. The experience is familiar to people who have played a LEGO video game before. There is a lot of carrying and fetching, as well as little puzzles where you need to figure out which character is meant to do what task.
The Toy Pad’s new physical-virtual play is another feature. LEGO Dimensions’ peripheral changes its colour at times. Placing one of the mini-figures at the right segment acts as a trigger for in-game actions (changing colour, growing, shrinking) which is used for completing puzzles.
I have to admit, it is quite a nice touch to have the mini-figures act as more than just pawns to unlock the content on the disc. However, unlike the other toys-to-life video games, you do not get to save the progression of the character to the toy figures. It is the vehicles which evolve while playing, these rebuilds and choices are saved up in the toy tag for the next game.
Apart from the great visuals and classic gameplay, the scope of LEGO Dimensions comes as a real surprise. The brands pop-up in the most unexpected ways to create an entertaining and absorbing story. The DC Universe, Lord of the Rings, Doctor Who, The Simpsons, Scooby Doo, the LEGO movie, Legends of Chima, and Ninjago all strongly feature in the game apart from cameos from other franchises and films.
LEGO Dimensions is perfect for a family audience, and I am referring not just to the co-operative nature of the game-play. The high points of the humour in the game will vary depending on your age. Encountering Back to the Future or Doctor Who will trigger warm nostalgic feelings for parents whereas Portal and The Simpsons are more likely to be appreciated by a younger audience.
One of the major disadvantages is that to access hidden areas and side-quests, you need particular LEGO characters. Each one of the characters comes with its own set of skills. So, if you want to access all the hidden bricks in the game, you need quite a collection. Once you stumble onto these areas, you are also told which mini-figure to use, which is something of an ad built into the game-play.
It will take quite some time to complete all the content found in the Starter Pack, with around 12 hours for the main story and some more a couple of hours extra if you want to go back and gather all the collectables. After that, you have the open world for Wyld Style (The Lego movie), Gandalf (Lord of the Rings), and Batman (DC Comics). All these factors add considerable play value for you or your children.
You have to admire the game’s attention to detail. For example, the LEGO characters are animated with the weird stop-motion effects as their movie equivalents, while The Simpsons are lit and coloured to look like The Simpsons as much as possible.
The story starts to click together by the time Doctor Who arrives, showing its adroit use of writing to make the most of the beloved brands. The main overreaching story of the game is that there is a mysterious mini figure who has entered the multiverse and found a way to reshape it at his whim, but he needs to snatch away important things from all the universes to be able to do that. This attracts all our heroes who have to stop him.
Looking back at it, I have to agree that it’s a smart move to kick off the game in such a familiar setting with story mechanics that are easy to understand. By the time we reach the end of the game, players are doing so much and the different worlds have so seamlessly blended that it becomes a classic pop-culture mash-up, with frenetic and relentlessly fun game-play.
That doesn’t mean that the game is not without its flaws. While roaming around in the Oz or Jurassic World universe is fun, it just doesn’t measure up to the main campaign. Like all LEGO games before it, Dimensions suffers from camera angle problems, especially when you miss jumps plummeting time and time again to your death.
LEGO Dimensions features a vast array of voice talent. From Back to the Future’s Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox to Portal’s Ellen McLain and Gary Oldman as the big bad boss, LEGO Dimensions is stock full of fantastic voice acting from entertainment personalities. The sound design is spectacular and distinct for a game with a limitation on its graphics. With a 5.1 soundtrack, the sound plays a big role in enveloping you into the game. It does not come without issues though. There is a weird sound bug that causes the sound to disappear before the disc spins up and brings the audio in again.
Overall, it is important not to overlook the physical LEGO product when you are deciding which toys-to-life game fits you the best. My nephews have spent as much time playing with the mini figures as they have been playing the game. In fact, a lot of the time, they played the game just so they can get the building instructions for their next LEGO set.
This will not be a cheap investment but it comes with top-of-the-range production values, a lot of content and many hours of gameplay. It takes the genre in the right direction and stands apart from the crowd. It captures a lot of what we find appealing about our favourite movie worlds while stumbling with just a couple of them.
- Huge amounts of content
- Feels like any other LEGO game
- Kids can play with characters in game and as regular toys
- Good voice acting
- Expensive if you want more content
- Some other campaigns can be boring