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Lego Dimensions Review

Updated on February 17, 2016
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What would you think of a game that combines Back to the Future, Lord of the Rings, DC comic heroes, Ghostbusters, The Wizard of Oz, Scooby Doo and Doctor Who? Well, you can get those all in one game: Lego Dimensions. The plot is basically a clothesline to hang the gameplay on and combine all these unrelated franchises. The core gameplay is not that different from regular Lego games - beat up enemies, solve puzzles - usually centered around building stuff or characters' different abilities.

Having so many different franchises together in one area is not just window dressing. Every level plays differently based on the franchise. The DC world is a little more action-oriented. The Portal 2 world relies a little more on puzzles. The Midway Arcade level alone combines elements of shooters, racing games and mazes. While some franchises have bonus levels (more on those later), EVERY franchise has its own overworld to explore. These worlds are massive and filled with excruciating details to the franchise. For example, the Ghostbusters overworld is littered with Easter Eggs and tributes to the first two Ghostbusters movies.

On face value, the game is pretty well-paced - long enough to give players their money's worth but short enough to not wear out its welcome. There are also a ton of hidden items, secret areas and characters to rescue that diligent players can find everything.

However, this game brings a few new elements to the table. Taking a cue from games such as Disney Infinity, there are purchasable mini-figures/vehicles that can be placed on the gamepad. The gamepad factors into the gameplay as well in various ways. In addition to being used for placing up to six characters/vehicles in the game, the pad is also used for puzzle solving. Sometimes it involves teleportation. Sometimes enemies can take hold of a character and they need to be moved around another area of the pad.

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Regarding the figures, these guys have their ups and downs. Let's address the elephant in the room: Yes, they have to be paid for, with only Gandalf, Wyld Style, Batman and the Batmobile coming with the game. The good news is if a player ONLY wants to play and beat the game, that can be achieved with everything in the starter pack. Paying for the figures is kind of justifiable. After all, every character comes with a vehicle and building these mini-Lego figures is a lot of fun. On a personal level, I looked forward to getting something new just to build it.

Also, these characters can be played with. If you want to take your Marty McFly or Doctor figure off the stand and have them mingle with the other Lego figure in the collection. That's one of the subtle brilliant touches of the game. It harkens back to when we were kids and we had different toys and action figures and sent them on different adventures together.

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When it comes to acquiring different characters, there are ups and downs. The good news is if players do not wish to purchase certain characters, the game has a "Hire-a-hero" feature where the player can pay some in-game money to use the power of a character they do not have. Unfortunately, this can not be done with vehicles and certain areas can only be accessed with vehicles such as the DeLorean or the TARDIS.

Most Lego games feature a plethora of characters that vary in usefulness - and usually have a ton of filler characters. Seriously, does anyone play as those henchmen characters? The good news is EVERY CHARACTER can do something - whether it be crawl, use stealth, repair things. However, not all characters are created equally. Some characters seriously have the lion's share of usefulness. A character like Bart Simpson can only crawl and shoot projectiles. Compare that to the Wicked Witch who can use magic, light dark areas, create homing explosions, use mind control and fly. Considering the characters cost the same dollar amount (theoretically), which one would YOU rather buy?

A minor nitpick is that different characters have different abilities on land and underwater. Have the Doctor for technology ability? Don't expect to use that underwater! However, this is a minor gripe for a great game. The game designers put their best foot forward. Characters talk. While it can be annoying hearing the same phrases over and over again, when certain character/vehicle combinations create unique dialogue. For example, if Doc Brown enters the TARDIS, he chides the Doctor for not designing a time machine with style. Scooby-Doo sings the Batman theme. Emmet Brickowski recognizes Owen Grady (think about that one).

Many characters come with bonus levels and these also have their own quirks. Overall, every level is fun so if you like a franchise, you'll probably like that level. However, if you're on a budget and want to know which ones are the most fun, here's my ranking of the bonus levels from best to... least best. Sorry I can't bring myself to say worst when none of them are bad.

Ghostbusters!

Determining the absolute best was no easy task since the Ghostbusters Level and the Doctor Who level were almost neck and neck in terms of quality. What put the Ghostbusters game over the top was its original gameplay. Most of the other games are fun, but this brought something new to the table. Naturally, the mechanic is ghostbusting. It functions the way one would expect - there are groups of ghosts. The player shoots the proton pack and gathers groups of ghosts. Once all the ghosts have been caught, the player is given a reward. The level itself is an abridged, G-rated retelling of the movie. Sound clips are used from the movie, but they are remixed. For any ghosthead, it's almost a treat to see how lines from the movie were incorporated in a new context. (However, a sound-a-like was used for Louis.) The bosses

Ghostbusters games are hit and miss - the 2009 game and the Genesis game are classics while everyone and their mother knows how bad the original NES game was. One edge this game has: Once you beat the level, all four Ghostbusters are selectable.

Doctor Who

In terms of a level that is just fun to play, this is a close second with Ghostbusters. Unlike Ghostbusters, this is an entirely new adventure for the Doctor, featuring Peter Capaldi and Jeanna Louise Coleman. The Adventure focuses mainly on the Daleks, however, because of bonus areas and other goodies, the game is almost a greatest hits of the Doctor's enemies: Cybermen, Weeping Angels, Mannequins. This level has a lot of fun puzzles involving the TARDIS to time travel. I think one of the reasons I gave Ghostbusters the edge is that the Daleks are pretty tough customers and can be hard to handle so while this game is fun, it can also be a little more frustrating.

What also gives this game an edge is its level of detail. For starters EVERY Doctor is included in this game. And if you put the Doctor in his TARDIS, the interior matches what it would have looked like for that Doctor - even being in black and white for the first Doctor. They even went the extra mile and gave sound bites to all of the characters. The only thing that might irritate players is that unlocking the past doctors is somewhat complex. Every time the Doctor dies, he regenerates as a different Doctor - hey, a detail from the show! However, he cycles in order. I don't mind admitting I killed the Doctor on purpose several times to get the ones I wanted. So once The Doctor regenerates to a new form, you keep that version, right? Wrong! You have to know to put the Doctor in the TARDIS once he regenerates and THEN you can select him later. Once all of them (or at least the ones the player wants) are unlocked, it's smooth sailings, but the road there can be rough.

Back to the Future

This was the one I was most excited about. It would be no exaggeration to call Back to the Future my favorite franchise so I was pumped for this level. The level is good... but not great. Like Ghostbusters, the Back to the Future level can best be described as an abridged, G-rated version of the first movie. What makes this worthwhile for any Back to the Future fan is that Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd reprise their iconic roles as Marty and Doc respectively. The way this game had to adjust Back to the Future to be kid-friendly is funny itself - with the Lybians using cream pies as bombs. As such, this might be the funniest of the bonus levels. As for gameplay, it's almost all puzzles. During the first playthrough, I had a "That's it?" feeling. Maybe it's because I hold Back to the Future in such high regard that I expected more, but during a second playthrough - and discovering the Enchantment Under the Sea Bonus area, this one grew on me. Compared the others, this one could have benefited from a little more depth, but overall, it is recommended. In a way, its brevity could be viewed as an advantage. Maybe some players want something quick to play through.

Portal 2

This level serves as an example of how this game can be a gateway to other franchises. I had little interest in Portal 2 before playing this, but playing this level piqued my interest in that game which proved to be a rewarding experience. This game could best be described as Portal 2 Jr. or a mini-version of Portal 2. The game functions like Portal 2 - with the portal gun that fires blue entrance portals and orange exit portals, companion cubes. The puzzles work similarly to the puzzles in Portal 2, but this game isn't nearly as complex or as obtuse as that game. While the game has more depth than Back to the Future, what hurts it is there is a section where X-Ray vision is REQUIRED. Normally, these levels equip you with everything you need to beat them, but still have puzzles the other characters can use to acquire goodies. For example, if you only want to beat the Back to the Future level, you can use just Marty, the Delorean and the Hoverboard. However, if you don't have a character with x-ray vision or hire-a-hero (bare in mind this happens early enough you might not have the money), you'll run into a wall. If anyone can enlighten me on how this can be done with the Portal 2 characters and the pack-in characters, that would be appreciated. Even with that flaw, this is still a fun mini-level that captures the creativity and dark humor of Portal 2. If you ever wanted a simpler version of Portal 2 or you just can't get enough Portal 2 and want something you can beat in an hour, this comes recommended.

The Simpsons

Look, this is in no way a bad level, but something has to be last. This level is a recreation of the episode "El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Homer" - a strange choice to build a level around. Then again, they may have wanted to pick something with a lot of Homer since he is the only character that talks (Okay, Krusty - also voiced by Dan Castellanetta - talks too). Like Ghostbusters, all dialogue is recycled dialogue. The designers must have been unable to license Nancy Cartwright since playable Bart NEVER speaks - a bit of a bummer considering Bart is one of the most loquacious characters in TV history. Either way, it's pretty weird that Johnny Cash's coyote talks while Bart and Marge do not. Back to the subject at hand, this level is fun, but like Back to the Future is more based on puzzles, with few enemies. This level doesn't bring a lot to the table, but it is fun and if you have the TARDIS, you can find a bonus area leading to the Jetsons' home.

Overall, Lego Dimensions may require breaking out the credit card (or asking for a lot of gifts), but the game is overall worthwhile for Lego fans or fans of... There's enough of everything in this game! Somebody's franchise has gotta be in there!

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