As the world’s most famous – and favourite – toy brand, any Lego products have a lot to live up to. New Lego Dimensions building and gaming adventure promises an exciting and creative world of plat where anything goes, but does it deliver?
When a mysterious and powerful vortex suddenly appears in various Lego worlds, who ya gonna call? Well, Ghostbusters, obviously – but that comes later in one of the add-on packs.
In the meantime, you have a bijou dream team of three – Batman, Gandalf from Lord of the Rings and Wyldstyle from The Lego Movie – ready to take a brave leap into the vortex and fight against the evil Lord Vortech. And there are epic battles to be fought. After all, the whole of Lego humanity (or rather, its brick equivalent) is at peril.
Thank goodness you have a host of familiar characters as trusty allies, interacting with each other in playful banter despite the serious nature of the task in hand (all credit here to the script writers who manage to pitch that tongue-in-cheek, slightly hammy humour of the characters perfectly). Your task? To locate the missing keystones.
With a host of different worlds opening up, your journey will take you along the Yellow Brick Road to Oz, contending with the green-faced Wicked Witch of the West, sleep-inducing blooms and manic flying monkeys en route, and see you kicking up the desert dust way out West in Back to the Future where a flying DeLorean need assistance for a quick getaway. In each ‘world’, there are puzzles and challenges to complete, with studs and gold bricks to collect.
It takes a lot to impress a 10-year-old gaming veteran who’s seen it all from Nintendo to Skylanders and Disney Infinity, but Joe’s reaction to Lego Dimensions was simply: “Wow! This is AWESOME!” (Yes, he does tend to get a bit Emmet, occasionally)
Those who love Lego for its build will be pleased to know that some construction is required, including the Portal. Here, you can choose one of Lego’s fail-safe step-by-step instruction booklets to guide you, or build from on-screen instructions within the game.
Looking like a grand wheel of fortune, the Portal sits on a base of different coloured floor blocks, with shades of John Travolta’s dance floor in Saturday Night Fever. These come into their own with some clever colour-matching games, where you need to move the mini figs from different coloured squares to create new colours (blue and red making purple, and so on). This was the one thing that proved tricky for our 10-year-old tester, Joe, who is colour blind.
With 14 different levels to play within the starter pack, there is plenty of variety and play value. However, you will occasionally be advised “An update is required” when you come across certain characters or features. This basically means you will have to buy additional packs to unlock added features and extend play possibilities.
The fact that some play is restricted can be annoying but it is pretty standard practice in the toys-to-life category with both Skylanders and Disney Infinity working on the same principle. Having said that, everything you need to complete each level is contained within the starter pack and players still get to explore realms from Scooby-Doo, Back to the Future, Ghostbusters, Midway Arcade, and Portal without having to buy additional packs.
So what really makes Lego Dimensions a cut above? For a start, it’s Lego – and that’s likely to give you a good feeling from the start. Then there’s the fact that it features so many fan favourites – and you can mix and mash them all up in the most unlikely scenarios. Unikitty behind the wheel of the Batmobile? Why not. Homer Simpson whizzing off in the Tardis? Yeah. Wonder what Gandalf would make of life with Ghostbusters? Here’s your chance to find out. You can even throw a triumvirate of doctors together – Who, Brown and Venkman – and see who has the best bedside manner (We’re guessing probably not Venkman).
What do we love? Well, you get a host of highly collectible mini figures, plus exclusive gadgets (the dinky DeLoreon and K9 dog are very covetable) that can be used in imaginative play beyond the video game. Plus, there’s plenty of real-life and virtual builds to satisfy Lego traditionalists
We have to give a special mention to the BBC Dr Who Level Pack, which is just brilliant. Eliciting a big “Whoo-hoo!” from Dr Who fans, this is the first time Lego has collaborated with the franchise (there are Lego sets in the pipeline too), the pack comes with the current 13th Doctor, authentically voiced by Peter Capaldi, but – here’s the bit we love – if the Doctor ‘dies’ in the game, he will regenerate as one of his previous carnations; the first two doctors even appear in black and white scenes.
You can listen to the appropriate theme tune of the era for each Doctor, and have fun as you compare and contrast which ones you remember and liked best (Dr Who aficionados do tend to have trainspotter tendencies).
Overall verdict? We have to agree with Joe and Emmet: “Everything is AWESOME!”
Good For… Fine motor skills and dexterity; hand/eye coordination, and manipulation; computer skills; storytelling and imaginative play; following instructions; problem-solving and strategic thinking.
Keep in Mind… We’ve said it already, but this is a game that will build and build, so to speak, so expect future investment. Our 10-year-old tester already has his sights set on several of the additional packs and is pondering what might come in the future? “Where’s Harry Potter?” he asks.
What Kids Love There are so many things to appeal to kids who love any (or all) of the following: Lego, Dr Who, DC Comics, The Simpsons, PacMan, Portal 2, Ghostbusters…
What Parents Love It’s everything that Lego does well: creative, imaginative, humorous, and great fun!
Fun fact The Lego mini fig in the Dr Who Level Pack comes armed with his trusty, and very weeny, Sonic Screwdriver (as well as a very thoughtful ‘spare’: thanks Lego). First used in 1968 by the second Doctor Patrick Troughton, this iconic gadget was written out of the series in 1982 due to the limitations it caused scriptwriters. It featured briefly in the 1996 Doctor Who TV Movie, before making a full return in 2005 with 11th Doctor David Tennant.
Did you know? Mini-figurines of Galileo, the ‘father of science’, and the Roman deities Jupiter and Juno were launched in 2011 aboard NASA’s Juno spacecraft en route to Jupiter. Lego has flown products aboard the US Space Shuttles and to the International Space Station previously, but Juno’s cargo represents the “most distant Lego launch” ever. We were kind of sorry they didn’t include Spaceman Benny in their mission until we discovered the figurines will burn up in Jupiter’s atmosphere along with the spacecraft at the end of the mission in October 2017.
** LOVE LEGO MINI FIGS? ** Check out our review of Lego Mini Figures Year by Year, the definitive fan guide for aficionados of the little yellow folk.
Designer Details Founded in Denmark by Ole Kirk Kristiansen in 1932, Lego (an abbreviation of the two Danish words “leg godt”, meaning “play well”) is arguably the most iconic toy brand ever. Twice named “Toy of the Century”, the famous Lego brick, with its distinctive interlocking system, was first launched in 1958. Although Lego is ostensibly a brand for children, there are many AFOLs (Adult Fans Of Lego) including Brad Pitt, David Beckham and WillIAm.