Who doesn't love Lego? The newest entry into the series is quite a drastic shift from previous games, as Lego is now entering the world of toys-to-life genre where you not only purchase the game, but get a portal to place characters and vehicles on to transport them into the game world. Dimensions takes things a step further and actually uses the portal as a puzzle mechanic and will actually have you building and rebuilding with the included Lego pieces as well. Multiple brands will intersect with one another for a hilarious and unique Lego experience that is fun for all ages provided you can afford it.
+Fantastic fan service and crossing different IP universes
+Physically have to build with LEGO as a game mechanic
+The game's portal is innovative and more than a simple base
-It will cost hundreds of dollars to unlock everything
-High cost of entry and you'll certainly want to buy more add-on packs
First there was Skylanders, then Disney Infinity, and finally Amiibos. Now LEGO has joined the foray into collectible and adorable physical toys-to-life games / DLC to get you hooked and open up your wallet. And trust me, you're going to feel not only tempted to purchase more add-on packs, but somewhat obligated, especially if you want to see everything LEGO Dimensions has to offer.
While LEGO Dimensions may have a high cost of entry and continuation on purchasing add-ons, it's far more entertaining and fun than I've ever had with the competitors as a game itself. Unlike the other games, the 'toys' of Dimensions are actual Lego, so you'll actually be able to play with them instead of just admiring. Dimensions is very clever and actually has a mechanic that will actually encourage you to not only play with them but also build and rebuild new creations, all of which are needed to solve certain puzzles. Gone are the days of simply placing the toys on the portal and not interacting with them.
While the genre itself may not be new, what Dimensions does well in spades over the competition is how they somehow managed to get a handful of massive IPs to agree to numerous crossovers making for a truly unique and entertaining game. And these aren't simple cameos either, we're talking fighting Joker in the Simpson's universe and seeing other random appearances in the Doctor Who level for instance. How TT Games managed to get all of the companies involved to agree to this is no less short of a miracle, and it's one of Dimension's greatest strengths.
So what exactly comes in the starter pack for $109.99 (CAD)? It might not sound like a lot, but considering the cost of LEGO these days plus getting a full game, it's about on par for what's included.
LEGO Dimensions videogame
LEGO Toy Pad
Bricks to build the LEGO Gateway and Batmobile (3 forms)
3 LEGO minifigs (Batman, Wyldstyle, and Gandalf)
The campaign for Dimensions was quite entertaining from beginning to finish and absolutely plays into its strength of melding multiple dimensions and IPs together. Lord Vortech is wanting to take over not only the world, but all worlds, so he is attempting to collapse every universe together into one so that he can rule. He's evil but in a weird way, absolutely adorable as well, making him a perfect fit to be a Lego villain. He kidnaps Frodo, Robin, and Metalbeard from their friends, so it's up to Batman, Gandalf, and Wyldstyle to get them back and stop his nefarious plot.
As Lord Vortech attempts to steal more artifacts, more worlds start to collide together, making for some truly unique game worlds and hilarious interactions (Lego Movie Batman fighting with DC Comics Batman is hysterical). While the story itself may be a little predictable, the way it plays out is entertaining and is much longer than I expected. While you'll be able to fully complete the main narrative with the starter pack alone with the 3 included base characters, you'll quickly come to realize that many secrets are locked away behind barriers that require a purchase of a new pack to access.
LEGO Dimensions starts off quite differently from the other games in the LEGO series, as your first task is to actually put down the controller and follow along with the on screen (or included booklet) to create and build the portal, the base on which your characters and vehicles will sit upon and be thrown into the game world. The portal itself is quite complex and looks fantastic, so the build time will depend on your Lego creation abilities and if you have a younger hand helping (or distracting) you. My daughter loved helping me piece the portal together, as she was the one that found the individual pieces as I lined them up so she could press them down for a firm fitting.
It would have probably been very simply to only include Lego's own brands in the game like Ninjago, Chima, and Lego Movie, all of which are included, but the fact that there's so many more franchises included such as Jurassic Park, Simpsons, DC, Lord of the Rings, Ghostbusters, Portal, Back to the Future, Doctor Who, and many more, there's absolutely something here for everyone regardless on your level of fandom or interests.
If you've played the Lego games before, you'll know basically what to expect; lots of brick smashing, environmental puzzles, hilarity, and solid gameplay. But the portal itself is what brings Dimensions to a whole new level and is really unique compared to other toys-to-life games. In most NFC based games, once you place the character on the portal you pretty much forget they are there, but in Dimensions, you'll be interacting with the portal much more, as it plays an integral part of some of the core mechanics and is needed to solve the majority of the game's puzzles.
The portal itself actually have 7 spots where characters and vehicles can be placed, many more than what the competitors can do, and is actually designed to be a part of the game itself. Each of the main sections can also light up to be different colors, which also plays a part of some puzzle solving. You'll have to move characters from one section of the portal to another to solve puzzles and even escape the clutches of certain enemies also.
There are a few different types of ways that the portal is used for different forms of puzzles, each of which is unique and will have you interacting with the toys on the portal quite often:
Dimensional portals will light up the 3 sections of the portal different colors and when a toy is placed on that section, they will be teleported to the same colored area in the game.
There will be times where you'll need to use the elements of water, fire, earth, and electricity to solve puzzles, and placing your minifig on the designated section of the portal will imbue them with the corresponding power until you remove them or place them on a different element section.
Sometimes there will be a hidden object that can only be found if your played character's toy is placed in the correct portal spot. When you are nearby the hidden item it will finally unveil itself for you.
Many times you'll be making your characters grow super large or incredibly tiny, both of which are done with placing them on the left or right side of the portal. Many times you'll also need to have 3 characters simultaneously large or small to solve certain problems.
Sometimes you'll need to place your minifig on the middle portal spot to use their special ability such as Batman's invisibility, Wyldstyle's master builder ability, or lighting Gandalf's staff to light the way forward for everyone else.
Lastly, and my favorite, is the use of colors with the portal and puzzles. Some puzzles will require you to 'paint' your characters red, blue, or yellow. Running over one of these colors in game will also paint the portal space they are currently on the same color. Puzzles will vary from simply having each portal space a specific color, but eventually you'll have to figure out how to 'mix' colors to make orange and purple as well by moving a colored character on the portal to another to mix those two colors together. It's difficult to explain but makes much more sense once you see it in action.
These examples above are great cases of how Dimensions does a great job of not only breaking the fourth wall, but keeps you interacting with the real world toy counterparts as opposed to setting them on the portal and forgetting them until you want to switch characters. It's without a doubt one of the best features Dimensions possess and how it really does separate itself from others in the genre.
While the base game itself has plenty of hours of fun to enjoy, you're going to start to notice more and more impassible objects or items you can't collect without a specific character or vehicle. In previous Lego games this wasn't a big deal since you unlocked new characters as you progressed through the game and could come back at a later time and unlock said objects whenever you desired. This isn't the case with Dimensions, as you don't unlock any new playable characters along the way. All of the extra characters and vehicles are separate retail purchases that can be quite a costly investment if you want to see everything Dimensions has to offer. This is where you'll start to open your wallet, especially if you have a younger kid playing like myself that constantly begs for a specific character once they know it exists.
When you go into a store to inevitably pick up one of these packs to add into your game, you might be confused at first as there are 3 different types of packs you can purchase, each of which do something slightly different.
Fun Packs are the cheapest option and includes one character and their corresponding vehicle or gadget (each of which has 3 different versions you can build). These go for $15 (CAD) and you also unlock that character's home world to explore as well.
Team Packs are $25, include 2 characters, vehicle, and gadget along with their corresponding world.
And lastly are the the priciest Level Packs at $30. These come with a character, vehicle, and gadget as well, but also include a mission based level, much like an expansion pack, along with its explorable world as well.
As you can see, the price can add up quite quickly, even if you want to just pick up a few extra packs here and there. That being said, they all have the build quality you expect from Lego and can add quite a lot of fun if you're a big fan of said character. For example, my daughter always wants to play with Emmet ever since I bought that Fun Pack for her (after a week of constantly asking for it each visit to the store).
Not only has Lego managed to miraculously meld multiple universes together in an entertaining way, but they've also convinced (or coerced) some massive voice talent to reprise many of their characters for the game as well. Most notably is Chris Pratt as Emmet, Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown, and even Dan Castallaneta reprising many Simpson characters. This list isn't even nearly everyone involved, but just many of the bigger stars which speaks volumes of the audio quality if you know who they are and makes for a hell of a cast:
- Alison Brie
- J.K. Simmons
- Gary Oldman
- Christopher Lloyd
- Michael J. Fox
- Nolan North
- Chris Pratt
- Sean Astin
- Elizabeth Banks
- Troy Baker
- Steve Blum
- Dan Aykroyd
- Orlando Bloom
- Joel McHale
- Liam Neeson
- Nick Offerman
- Frank Welker
- Elijah Wood
I was also fortunate enough to play Dimensions on multiple platforms, and while this review and corresponding score is solely based on the WiiU versions, there are a few notable differences when I compared it to the Xbox One version.
First and foremost, the game felt smooth and had no graphical hiccups on the Xbox One version, sadly this wasn't the case on WiiU though, as it constantly suffered framerate issues and even doesn't look quite as sharp or refined in general. While it's never unplayable, just be prepared for some massive dips in framerate if this is the platform of choice.
I was hoping for a lot of use with the WiiU gamepad aside from using it as a controller, but there's nothing special that it does aside from being able to choose your playable character with the touch screen or using it for off TV play. That being said, the off TV play is a great feature to have if your TV is constantly being used by someone else, but you'll still need to be in range of the portal, as that's a mechanic that is constantly being used throughout. If you only have a WiiU then obviously your choice is made up for you already, but if you have a PS4 or Xbox One as well, I highly suggest those versions instead unless off screen play is an absolute priority due to its technical issues and lower fidelity.
LEGO Dimensions has a massive amount of fan service within and will surely get almost everyone to smile or laugh at some point. The amount of enjoyment will no doubt be based on how much you've enjoyed previous Lego games, but the portal element does add a whole new layer of complexity, fun, and mechanics that is new to the series.
While it's a shame that completionists will have to fork over a small fortune if they want to 100% the game due to content being locked behind the paid DLC packs, and the cost of entry is quite higher than other games in the genre, the game itself is quite fun and seeing my daughter's face light up when I bought her a new character to play with was well worth it. Damnit Lego, you've found my weak spot. Lego Dimensions is a fun toy and also a great game, just be prepared to pay for that fun if you want to access it completely.