As we have discussed on the show many times, LEGO Dimensions is one of those games that has me hooked under the skin like some deep sea creature like off of them David Attenborough documentaries. The blend of TT Games’ LEGO gaming series and the Toys to Life mechanic of Skylanders/Disney Infinity (plus the fact that the toys coming to life are assembled from LEGO components) seems perfect and the franchises announced early on, including Ghostbusters, Portal, Doctor Who, Scooby Doo and Back to the Future coming into the already existing Lord of the Rings, DC and LEGO Movie worlds have reach way beyond the usual ‘film is out, let’s do a tie-in’ element of the LEGO series.
It’s costly. Very costly.
So when I discovered that I could try LEGO Dimensions at EGX it immediately jumped into my top five.
Weirdly there was no queue for LEGO Dimensions, AT ALL. Rob had a go at one end of the stand while I jumped in with a demonstrator guiding me through the features. This was a very useful touch. Sometimes a demo guide is too much, especially on something like an FPS where you just want to get into the world and fight, but with LEGO Dimensions the guide had read up on the games (he wasn’t a game dev, just a regular PR guy who was given a few A4 sheets to read) and knew which levels would be of specific interest to the crowd at EGX. He recommended either the Portal level or the Doctor Who level as they had an added amount of complexity.
And that was the first big surprise. The misconception I had when approaching the stand was that the LEGO portal was pretty much the same as Skylanders/Infinity portals. Put the toy on, play with the toy. But the game makers have gone way beyond that. In essence the portal can hold seven items at a time. This could be seven characters or a mix of characters and items. In my playthrough I used Batman, Gandalf, Chell, Wildstyle, The Doctor and the TARDIS. The TARDIS was revelationary as I assumed it would just be a vehicle for traversing the level in style, but the guide explained that once inside I could actually hold Y to go ‘inside’. The TARDIS exterior was based upon the latest design, but I was informed that every TARDIS console room design would be in the game. I was also able to change into ANY Doctor. I, obviously, went for the War Doctor and left the TARDIS to attempt to complete the level.
The gameplay is pretty much your usual LEGO/TT Games layout, puzzles, assembly and stud collecting with one major new feature. To open up gameplay areas you can now interact with elemental powers. These are activated via an item in-game and it changes the colours on the portal itself. This allows a character (in my playthrough) to gain fire powers, water powers or electrical powers. The masterstroke here is that many puzzles can now be undertaken by a single character. No reliance on one specific character for a laser beam for example. There are character specific puzzles, eg. Female LEGO characters can double jump but these are balanced out by the fact that the base set offers all necessary abilities right out of the box.
The puzzles, as a result of the elemental effects, are more complex. It forced me to think slightly differently and offered a level of challenge that surprised me somewhat. I can really see this being more of the ‘drop in and help the kids’ type of game for many gaming parents, while also presenting genuine challenge to seasoned players. This feels like the first big step forwards for the LEGO gaming franchise which, despite elements such as the crafting mechanic of LEGO The Hobbit, or the Big Fig characters added into the series, has not really evolved beyond it’s original design on the PS2 games.
One other element of the game that intrigued me was the Batmobile’s alternative modes. Now in a lot of the PR for the game they have pointed out that the Batmobile will have three ‘modes’ and each one can be built from the bricks in the set. I queried this, asking if it was essential to rebuilt the Batmobile and asked how the game knew. It seems that the disk on the base allows the game to re-write the coding to determine which version of the Batmobile you wish to use. This does not require a rebuild, if you want to avoid taking it apart frequently. I also discovered that ALL vehicles in the game and subsequent add-ons would support this feature.
So, does it justify the price tag? I’d say so. It really depends on your love for LEGO and the franchises that are being added, but as a game in it’s own right my limited experience gives me enough confidence to say yes regardless.
A perfect family game, with adorable LEGO creations that is fully interactive and challenging. Sold!
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