What is LEGO Dimensions?
LEGO Dimensions is a co-op adventure that blends many of the world's most famous fictional characters and universes together. As what's known as a "toys-to-life" game, the idea behind LEGO Dimensions is simple enough - placing a special LEGO Dimensions minifig on the bundled Toy Pad base will let you play as that character in game, mixing collectible figures with a fully fledged LEGO adventure. From Portal to Doctor Who, from Gremlins to Ghostbusters, and from Scooby Doo to Ninjago, there's a huge mix of characters and worlds to explore here across the LEGO Dimensions range - and the Starter Pack comes with everything you need to get going.
Bundling the all important Toy Pad base itself, along with three character minifigs (Batman, the LEGO Movie's Wyldstyle and Lord of the Rings' Gandalf), a copy of the game, a set of instructions and plenty of LEGO (which you'll use to build the portal itself), the handy Starter Pack contains all you'll need to play through the entire game, whether in co-op or single player.
The story here revolves around an evil villain known as Lord Vortech, who's searching for the legendary foundation elements - a collection of special items that will let him rule the entire LEGO multiverse. Unfortunately, it just so happens that the items Lord Vortech needs are scattered across 14 very different worlds - and by trying to retrieve them all at once, he ends up tearing a huge hole across each of the dimensions, letting characters - and villains - from each get into the others. When Robin, Metalbeard and Frodo are sucked through the holes that appear, it's up to Batman, Wyldstyle and Gandalf to put things right, and save the LEGO Dimensions.
How do you play LEGO Dimensions?
Sticking true to the tried and tested formula, LEGO Dimensions is a game that'll be instantly familiar to anyone who's played a LEGO game before. With full support for drop-in, drop-out co-op, it's a game of baddie bashing, simple puzzle solving, and plenty of LEGO smashing. With an appealing divide between sections that require brain and brawn, when you're not beating up the enemies that come your way, you'll instead be solving fairly straightforward puzzles - although there is an extra dimension here too. While many puzzles revolve around flicking switches, or pushing blocks, others ask you to make use of character's special powers - like Batman's Batarang, or Gandalf's magic, in order to proceed. An entirely new category of puzzles see you using the Toy Pad to solve conundrums in game, whether you're plonking your character on a certain-coloured section of the Toy Pad to grant them a special power, or moving them off a flashing red section to break an enemy's spell.
With 14 levels to play your way through, and plenty of laugh out loud moments as characters from vastly different worlds meet, there's certainly plenty to get stuck into here - however, there's more to LEGO Dimensions than just the story levels. While the main story takes you through the traditional, story driven LEGO levels, the game also includes three Adventure Worlds in the Starter Pack. These Adventure Worlds are much more open, and are full of quests to complete, characters that need help, puzzles to solve, and all important gold bricks to collect, offering hours of extra gameplay. Every franchise has its own Adventure World to explore in LEGO Dimensions, but you'll need a character from that franchise in order to access it - see additional notes for more.
How easy is LEGO Dimensions to pick up and play?
In terms of accessibility, LEGO Dimensions is reasonably easy to get stuck into, although it does have a higher learning curve than other LEGO games. While the controls are nice and simple, and there's no penalty for dying (you simply respawn exactly where you left off, and carry on as though nothing's happened), it's the Toy Pad puzzles that may leave newer players initially scratching their heads.
As mentioned above, these Toy Pad puzzles involve moving characters around on the Toy Pad base itself, which in turn will make something happen in game - like shooting your character through a portal, making them bigger, or freeing them from a trap. The only problem is, the first time you come across these sections, there's nothing to tell you what you actually have to do - all you'll notice is a portal icon flashing in the very bottom corner of the screen, leaving you to figure out how it all works for yourself. While older players will quickly pick up what to look for, younger players may need pointing in the right direction the first time they come across these puzzles - but once they've got the hang of it, they should be fine.
For the youngest of players, a moderate reading ability is required. Whilst the vast majority of the game is fully voiced, all tutorial and hint sections are delivered through text alone. While most of these do include a picture of the character that's needed, the vast majority of these characters can only be found in expansion packs, so a reading ability comes in handy to understand why you can't solve the puzzle, or access the secret area, and what abilities you'll need to keep an eye out for.
Sample sentences include:
- Remember [picture of Gandalf] can interact with objects with magical effects around them.
- Place the model on the central panel.
- Only characters such as [picture of Superman] can destroy these Cracked LEGO walls by using their Cracked LEGO ability.
For the hard of hearing, the game is fully subtitled.
As a toys-to-life game, LEGO Dimensions is expandable with a whole range of add-ons and extras. Expansions packs come in four different varieties, with each adding a number of new character, vehicles, or even levels to the game. Each character has a range of different abilities, from being able to fly, to being able to destroy gold LEGO, with many of these abilities being used in game to solve optional puzzles, and access secret areas. Owning a pack from a particular franchise will get you access to that franchise's Adventure World in game, on top of any levels the pack adds. Luckily, all expansion packs are non-platform-specific, which means no matter which Starter Pack you've bought, or which platform you're playing on, you'll be able to run them. The types of packs available are as follows:
- Fun Packs (one character, and one vehicle)
- Team Packs (two characters and two vehicles)
- Level Packs (one character, two vehicles, and one level)
- Story Packs (one or more characters, one vehicle, six levels)
We should also note that you don't have to worry too much about losing bits of pieces of the toys, either, as the only thing you really need to be able to use your character/vehicle in game is the special LEGO Dimensions Toy Tag for each figure (effectively their base), which is what contains the special chip.
LEGO Dimensions does require an internet connection to access certain Adventure Worlds and levels. While the main story is playable out of the box, if you want to access Adventure Worlds for many of the expansions, you'll need an internet connection in order to download the worlds first.
With no bad language, no sexual content, and no true violence, LEGO Dimensions is safe for the whole family. What little violence there is is of a thoroughly slapstick nature - while you can use guns and lasers, defeated enemies will simply flash when hit, and fall apart when defeated.
Format Reviewed: Nintendo Wii U