Friday, December 4th, 2015 at 2:51pm by Andrew, BZPower News Manager
This review has been a while in the making, but after a few hiccups and a move, we're finally ready to get it out the door. Today we're looking at LEGO Dimensions, the new(ish) toys-to-life game created by TT Games and featuring roughly a bajillion different licenses ranging from Ghostbusters to The Wizard of Oz. We've built the set and played the game, so now it's time to let you know what we think. We've got pictures, we've got text, we've got video (including gameplay) - so read on to check it all out!
From the design of the box to the instruction manual, these are the first things you see before building the set.
The set comes in a pretty big box, which makes sense because there's a lot inside it. The artwork is familiar to anyone who paid attention to all the advertising hype, featuring Batman, Gandalf, and Wyldstyle in front of several spheres representing the different dimensions - Middle Earth is front and center, but you can also see the land of Oz, Ninjago, Cloud Cuckoo Land, and others. On the left you can see that the set contains the game disc, the toy pad, the three aforementioned figures, and a Batmobile. Of note, this box is for the Xbox One version, and the set number is different for the various consoles the game is available on.
The back explains the basic features of the game - you build the portal instead of getting one pre-made like in other toys-to-life-games. Each vehicle can be rebuilt into one of three different modes that appear in the game for added playability. And below that you can see twelve of the different intellectual properties that appear in the game. It looks like it's going to be chocked full of content!
Half the fun is had building the set. How fun is it to build and how easy or challenging is it?
The box includes instructions for the portal, but for the Batmobile you'll have to play the actual game (or reverse engineer it). There's nothing too crazy about the build, and with all of the symmetry the top is a bit repetitive. Some of the stickers are on the small side and are not the easiest to apply. Apart from that though, it's a pretty straightforward process and shouldn't take you that long.
Now that the set is complete, we can critique how it looks from every angle. New or interesting pieces can also be examined here.
There's quite a few unique and interesting pieces in the portal. Obviously the toy pad is pretty non-LEGO and only features two 2x2 areas with studs on it, but the LEGO logo is there! Then you have the 12x24 plate with two 6x6 corners cut out and a circular area missing as well. This allows it to attach easily to the toy pad. I feel like if you had enough of them you could come up with some really interesting uses.
There are a bunch of normal pieces in the set too in unique or uncommon colors. The 3x3 Earth Blue corner slope is unique, as is the 1x4x1x4 Medium Azure hinged plate. There are five Transparent Bright Bluish Violet shields with unique prints on them corresponding to powers in the game that you can't get anywhere else. The minifigure and vehicle toy tags are needed for the game and the character ones have unique printing. Finally, there's a 1x2 black tile printed with a design from The LEGO Movie - Wyldstyle's relic locator - that is a personal highlight. Aside from that there's a good selection of Medium and Dark Stone Grey, Medium Azure, and Earth Blue pieces in a variety of shapes that could certainly augment your collection. But this definitely isn't a set you buy for the pieces.
The finished portal is very... portal-y. The 12x24 plate fits perfectly on the base piece and makes it look like it belongs there. The portal itself has lots of little details and looks very high-tech. There's a few stickers that add to the look, giving it control panels and display readouts - I don't think they detract from the set at all. The dimensional opening uses the Chima claw pieces to simulate the look of opening a tear in the fabric of space-time to another world, and they get the job done. It's a fun model and will look good sitting on your shelf or table by your game console.
The set comes with three minifigures - Batman, Gandalf, and Wyldstyle. These are all the same as versions you can get in other sets, so there's nothing too exciting to see. The printing is great as always and Batman and Wyldstyle have two-sided heads. The coolest part is that Wyldstyle has the relic locator seen at the beginning of The LEGO Movie but that didn't make it into any of the film sets.
The last thing you get to build is the Batmobile. It's a small model but it certainly captures the look of the iconic vehicle. As far as I'm aware it's not trying to replicate any particular version from the comics, movies, TV shows, or videogames, but it's instantly recognizable. For the small number of parts used it's hard to complain.
The other half of the fun is in playing with the set. How well does the set function and is it enjoyable to play with?
Once you have everything built, you put the disc in your console, play it, and then follow the on-screen instructions to get started. This is where I ran into my first problem. My Gandalf toy tag wasn't recognized by the toy pad, so I couldn't get past the tutorial when it asked me to place him on it. I tried contacting both Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment and LEGO Customer Service, and each one directed me to the other. I was eventually able to get a replacement though, and after that I had no problems with the toy tags.
At first, the gameplay is very reminiscent of other TT LEGO games. Each character has different abilities, and you can switch between them to solve little puzzles to help get you through from one area to the next. I was occasionally frustrated with the controls, trying to get my character to not fall off ledges and the like, but I have this problem with all of the LEGO games, so the root probably lies with me and not the game itself. There's combat too of course, where you mash the attack button to take out waves of enemies, who vary depending on the level you're playing. It's very basic, and if you die you respawn almost instantly, so it's not a big deal. Eventually the challenges ramp up, and you have to use the toy pad to solve the puzzles.
The toy pad is broken into three different areas that can sense characters - the circular one in the center that fits one toy tag, an area on the left side that fits three, and a mirrored area on the right. The different areas can light up with different colors, depending on what the game wants you to do. As you play, you unlock different abilities for the portal, indicated by the different shields. One allows you to send your characters through a short-distance portal elsewhere on the screen when you put your character on a certain-colored section of the toy pad. Another gives your character elemental powers like fire, water, and electricity. It adds a new level of complexity to the classic TT Games formula, and can be a lot of fun. You'll definitely want to keep the pad within easy reach of where you're playing, because you'll be moving things around a lot.
The game's visual style is similar to the other LEGO games that have come before it. You interact with a world that's not entirely made out of LEGO, but that has many instances of LEGO architecture, machinery, and plant-life. It's a variety that keeps things from getting too stale or blocky. It's not going to push your gaming console to its limit either, with dynamic shadows or fancy water effects. It looks like LEGO though, and that's the important part in my mind. The audio helps immerse you as well, with lots of blocky sound effects as you build or destroy things. There's a good amount of original music in the game, but with all those different licenses, there's a bunch of other music in there that you'll instantly recognize. It helps ground you in each dimension and make you feel like you belong.
Speaking of licenses, there's a whole bunch of them! Each of the main levels takes place in a different one, including The Wizard of Oz, The Simpsons, The LEGO Movie, Ninjago, and Doctor Who. The mish-mash is a bit jarring at first, but it's done in a very fun and irreverent way. LEGO games rarely take themselves too seriously, and this one is no different. If you're not laughing while you're playing, you're doing it wrong.
After I got a few hours into the game, I got to the Doctor Who level, which seemed really awesome, especially since it featured the voice talents of Peter Capaldi. Unfortunately, a few minutes into the level, the game would crash before any progress was saved. I tried playing it a number of times, but the same thing kept happening. It's possible there's a patch out now, and I need to try deleting the game and reinstalling it, but it was a very unpleasant experience and one that has made me stop playing Dimensions in favor of other LEGO games. I only have so much free time, and I'd rather spend it on a game that works than troubleshooting one that doesn't.
If you'd like to see some gameplay, check out the couple of Twitch Tuesdays we did in LEGO Dimensions before I started having issues:
As a final gameplay note, this review is just of the base game. There's all sorts of Level Packs and Team Packs and Fun Packs you can buy to add more characters, vehicles, and levels to the game. Some people see this as a money grab while others want to collect them all. From my experience, you don't need to buy any of the packs unless you want to - there's plenty of fun to be had in the game without them.
Once it's all said and done, how does the set stack up? Should I get it?
What's to like?
- Fun build for the portal and Batmobile
- Tried and true LEGO gameplay with a twist
- Using the toy pad to affect the game is a lot of fun
- Wide variety of levels and characters
- Good selection of pieces, with some fun rare and unique ones
What's not to like?
- Hardware issue with the toy tags
- Repeated crashing on the Doctor Who level
I was really pumped for the LEGO Dimensions game, and wanted to like it a lot. What I played was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed the toys-to-life aspect with the toy pad and tags. The game definitely has some hardware and stability issues though, which make it hard to recommend. If you can get a good deal during the holiday season (most places already have it for $80 instead of $100), then it might not be a bad pickup. But $80 could also be spent on another LEGO game that won't crash and an actual LEGO set of your choosing.
Thank you all for reading and watching - hopefully you got something out of this review. Your questions and feedback are always welcome in the Talkback, so don't hesitate to post there. We do have some of the different Dimensions packs, so keep your eyes peeled in the future for more live streams of those and possibly some set reviews, right here on BZPower!
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