REVIEW: “LEGO Dimensions” is Endless Fun, Some Assembly Required
The Lego series of video games has been top-notch quality since its first installment, and has gone to strength to strength. When the announcement came earlier in the year that they were throwing their small plastic hat into the “Toys to Life” ring, competing with games like Disney INfinity and [[[Skylanders]]], interest was high. As reports came out as to which of their licenses would be available in the game, that interest sailed even higher. Confounding the old belief that “It can’t be that good”, [[[LEGO Dimensions]]] is a perfect mix of the Lego game franchise, that the company have been doing for years, with the interactivity and variety of the collectible figures and vehicles that the company have been doing for decades.
Of all the unique things the game brings to the table is the play pad itself. Like Disney and Skylanders, figures are placed on the pad to bring them into the video game, but unlike the other games, its use doesn’t end there. The pad is an interactive part of the gameplay – the figures can be moved from spot to spot on the pad to give the characters special powers, and on certain levels, to solve puzzles to move forward in the game. The figures are themselves true Lego toys – minifigures for the playable characters, and their vehicles can be re-built in three unique forms, each with unique powers and abilities. Also, Lego promises that the game pad will never need upgrading, even as more gameplay and functionality is added to the game. So while the initial investment is the highest of the three big Toys to Life – its starter set is $100 – you won’t need to re-purchase it when “version 2.0” is released.
The game is at its core another solid addition to the Lego series, following the standard process of keeping the best gameplay mechanics while adding new ones, all over a solid and hilarious storyline. This one features a new bad guy, Lord Vortech (voiced by, would you believe it, Gary Oldman) who is seeking the “Prime Elements”, with which he will, dare I say it, rule the world. Or should say, the multiverse, as his plan is to merge all the various dimensions of reality.
Those dimensions are, of course, the various licenses Lego has collected over the years, and quite a few more. Like The Lego Movie, the game is a mad mishmosh of worlds and characters – the main playable characters from the starter set are Batman, Gandalf from Lord of the Rings, and WildStyle from The Lego Movie. The main game brings you through all the worlds of the game, including The Simpsons, Doctor Who, Portal, and The Wizard of Oz, as well as Lego’s own franchises Legends of Chima, Ninjago, and the aforementioned film. Each level features the same staggering replay value of any Lego game – certain areas of the game are only available by using the skill of particular characters – the only difference being that while in the regular games, those characters are collected by playing through the game, here they are obtained by purchasing the character figures in either a fun pack, or a Level Pack, which also includes access to a completely separate game level than is included in the base game. With only a couple exceptions, the various powers are available from characters in various franchises, giving the player great flexibility as to their purchases.
The voice cast for the game is staggering, with many original actors returning to voice their plastic counterparts. The cast of Doctor Who voice their characters, Christopher Lloyd is back as Doc Brown in the Back to the Future levels, and Chris Pratt plays two roles – Emmett from The Lego Movie and Owen Grady from Jurassic World. Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson return for the Ghostbusters levels – veteran voice artist Frank Welker steps in for the role of Peter Venkman, as well as Fred Jones and Scooby Doo.
The writing is as spectacular as any Lego game. With tongue firmly in cheek, the characters quip their way through outlandish adventures and difficult (but not impossible) boss battles. The gameplay will be immediately familiar to the veteran Legoist, and the new twists of the play pad keep you on your toes as you shift the characters about while you play.
There are releases planned for the game well into next year, including more characters for Doctor Who, and a whole world dedicate to Midway video games. While they have made no official announcements, the developers hope to add new worlds into the game – the sheer number of licenses the company makes as Lego figures could provide new content for literally years. But just what’s out and coming soon makes this a game that will keep the game player busy, and the toy collector happy.