Lego Dimensions throws the power of the LEGO brand and the carefully crafted experience that is some of the best co-op games in recent memory, right into the toys-to-life space with gusto. With memorable characters from properties you know, some that you don’t that still prove fun and clever, and worlds that are familiar but new to the LEGO space, Dimensions does the unthinkable and delivers an incredibly fun experience that makes you immediately crave the rest of the figures that you hold dear in memory.
We’re not in Gotham any more
The true experience begins with unboxing, as the starter set includes the portal, itself a behemoth of construction and tiny pieces primed for adult feet and nightmares, as well as having three heroes out of the box; Gandalf, Batman, and Wyldstyle of LEGO movie fame. The unboxing experience was that of flashbacks for this 30 year old man-child, enjoying keeping the parts organized on my desk while I carefully put on Batman’s cowl and cape, ensured Gandalf’s beard was straight, and that Wyldstyle had everything in place. Another small but great addition is the full fold out of all the planned characters and packs, allowing the next wave of GI Joe collectors to cross off their purchases and make those important decisions for Christmas lists well in advance.
Once assembled the game becomes immediately interactive with players, kicking off with a cutscene where the evil Lord Vortech seeks the foundational elements, cornerstones of time and space itself to bring all the wacky universes LEGO has touched together in one insane and dangerous spot at once, and control them all. Vortech steals our heroes’ companions, taking Robin, Frodo, and Metalbeard into the vortex and holding them captive while Batman, Gandalf, and Wyldstyle pursue in order to save their friends, and the LEGO universe.
Lego Dimensions grabs player attention immediately, showing quick glimpses of the worlds these characters knew, before slamming them into each other not unlike the mashup of bricks I created and called masterpieces with the plastic toys in my bedroom growing up. We see Batman fighting crime in Gotham with his compatriot, Frodo and Gandalf running from the monstrous Balrog, and Wyldstyle maintaining that everything is indeed awesome when you’re part of the team alongside Metalbeard, Unikitty, and more from the movie.
When the characters are all ripped apart then plopped into the first world, The Wizard of Oz the game showcases the incredible talent for making kids and grown men giggle at plain good writing. Stumbling on Dorothy, the Lion, Tin Man, and Scarecrow (and the little dog too!) Batman freaks out and tells Scarecrow he’s a villain. I’m not ashamed to admit that I laughed at this moment, and when it came up again as the Scarecrow, lacking brains tells a villain “I might be a villain” with Tin Man telling him to shut up in short order. These moments are punctuated by clever, cute, and downright funny moments of interaction and direction that translate into making the scenes you can’t control just as fun as the ones you can.
Things that make ya go “Yarr”
Watching characters we know and love interact would be one thing, but the characters alone aren’t enough without great writing, and yet another aspect Dimensions nails is the cast. Highest caliber talent reprises their roles in many aspects, with newcomers like Gary Oldman and Joel McHale lending some great acting to new characters and the great and funny writing. Hearing Nick Offerman as Metalbeard will no doubt bring back some great memories from last year’s LEGO Movie, while parents playing along or just the older crowd will appreciate Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown and other familiar characters realized in digital plastic. While Gandalf isn’t Sir Ian himself, the actor chosen is as close as it gets, and doesn’t break the illusion by having someone like Gilbert Gottfried do a voice just because they can.
The portal in Lego Dimensions also serves as one of the more interesting, and interactive in the toys-to-live arena currently. As players progress they’ll get to a section called the “Master Build” where they’ve got to put together pieces to form their platform – complete with on-screen instructions in a step-by-step flipbook. Once complete they’ll have the chance to fight off some boss attacks and throughout the game may have to move a certain character to one of the three zones on the platform. The Joker for instance during his boss fight requires tactical dropping of the right character on the right section to get behind the clown prince of crime. This swapping and switching makes the player drop the controller or call for help while moving the figures around, causing a bit of quick chaos before getting back into the action.
The gameplay found within is fairly par for the course in a LEGO title, with breaking bricks and collecting the silver, gold, and blue ingots to unlock new sections, or temporarily use a character that you might not have purchased at the store in order to get to a new area or grab a secret. Vehicles also cruise into the game in the form of builds just like the characters, with the Batmobile being in the box but other classics like The Mystery Machine out there for purchase.
+ Gameplay remains unchanged, which is solid as ever
+ Writing, Voicework, and overall structure is incredibly good
+ Interaction with the portal and characters engage the players more
+ Good length to the game, in addition to decent characters packed in
– High cost to entry at $99
The Bottom Line
There really isn’t anything truly bad about LEGO Dimensions unless the initial cost scares you off – rest assured that the amount of gameplay paired with the good characters out of the box aren’t a bad value at all. There’s great acting, great action, and great everything, as it transports the older player to a younger age, and inspires younger players imaginations to the possibilities of LEGO. While some of the puzzles won’t challenge older players as much as younger, and if you’ve gotten LEGO game overload as a result of the smattering of titles over the past few years, you might not find much value here, the clever writing, incredible actors, and the now-expected great gameplay of a Tt game immediately make LEGO Dimensions one of the best in the toys to life arena, and a plain great game for all ages.