LEGO Dimensions (Wii U) Review

By Drew Hurley 27.10.2015

Review for LEGO Dimensions on Wii U

It's a great time to be a fan of toys to life games, as not only are there numerous titles now available, but there are so many iconic fandoms being supported. With the purchases of Marvel and Lucas Film, Disney Infinity has become a dream product of crossovers, but when it comes to the diverse list of potential series, nothing can stand up to the crossover potential in LEGO Dimensions. LEGO may be the new boy on the block but it is planning to stick around for a long time, with three years of content and releases already planned out, and releases catering to audiences both young and old.

The story mode finds the evil Lord Vortech using portals to visit different worlds across the multiverse. There he is, building an army of Villains and capturing heroes to steal their magical items, or "foundation elements," in a plot to rule all worlds. To stop Lord Vortech, a trio of heroes from different worlds come together and journey along the worlds he is invading, fighting back against his conscripted Villains and taking back the magical foundation items.

The LEGO Dimension starter pack comes with the LEGO portal device, along with the three main heroes from the story; Batman with a mini Batmobile, Wyldstyle from The LEGO Movie and The Lord of the Rings' Gandalf. Playing through the main story takes the characters on a journey through all of the worlds from the first batch of content, battling Lord Vortech and his minions across the worlds of The Wizard of Oz, The Simpsons, Ninjago, Doctor Who, DC Comics, Back to the Future, Portal, The Lord of the Rings, Ghostbusters, Midway, and even Scooby Doo.

The LEGO games have always done well, and with good reason - the developers from TT Games have understood this well for many years and brought the fundamentals of their previous successes to this new platform. The core mechanics here are mostly the same as the other LEGO titles, with the main change being the system of using other characters. In all the other LEGO releases, characters are unlocked by accomplishing tasks, completing levels or purchasing them with studs, yet in Dimensions, the only way to unlock characters is purchasing them.

Screenshot for LEGO Dimensions on Wii U

The use of these unlockable characters to destroy specific special blocks has also been a mainstay mechanic throughout, and there new special blocks introduced here, too. The old blocks, like silver requiring explosions and gold requiring lasers, remain but now abilities specific to characters from new franchises arrive - computer consoles that require Doctor Who's Sonic Screwdriver, puzzles that need Chell's Portal Gun, and switches that require a master of Spinjitzu, for instance.

These special blocks have always been used as a gating mechanism, stopping players completing everything 100% on a first playthrough, requiring them to unlock a certain folk with skills and then returning to the level in free play to progress. This gating mechanic returns but is a little twisted in that it requires other packs to be purchased to unlock the abilities. There are a lot of different types of these blocks and many different packs need to be bought to experience all the content. This is the biggest pain of LEGO Dimensions, admittedly, as this is a toys to life product and these types of paywalls are in all such titles, although here it is glaringly evident.

The main story is complete-able using just the three characters from the starter pack, but there are many purchases needed to be able to deal with all of the special bricks and to reach 100% completion. This requirement of other packs leads directly into the other largest issue with Dimensions - the price. With the fun packs retailing at £15 and the level packs at £30, the cost is high in comparison to other toys to life titles, especially when considering the size difference of LEGO characters compared to Skylanders or Disney Infinity ones. LEGO, in general, has always come with a high price point, which somewhat explains the respective cost here. The price of a LEGO set containing two characters and a small build, much the same sort of size as the level packs of Dimensions, usually costs about £12-£15. The issue with cost really is in the paywalled content that is locked away to 100% the content included in the starter pack.

Screenshot for LEGO Dimensions on Wii U

The game comes with a hub world that contains a different adventure world based around each of the purchasable characters. Owning anyone from the franchise allows access to their adventure world. On top of this, the level packs come with a scripted full level to play through based around the relevant franchise, and so far there are story mode level packs available for The Simpsons, Back to the Future, and Portal 2, along with Doctor Who, Ghostbusters, and the Midway Arcade Classics level packs announced for release soon. If the packs that require extra purchase just added new content like the levels or the adventure worlds, the cost issue wouldn't be so much of an issue, but the fact that the base game cannot be fully completed without purchasing lots of extra purchases just doesn't sit well.

Anyone who hasn't built LEGO, or at least not built LEGO recently, may be surprised to find just how long a build takes. Just to build all of the LEGO in the starter kit will take between one and two hours. Thankfully, it isn't actually required to play and for those that just want to jump in, they can with just the bases to the game portal and the individual characters, although because the bases are identical with just a sticker showing the series the piece belongs to, it makes for a confusing time playing without the characters and vehicles attached.

Unlike most toys to life titles that only require a little interaction with the toys, for example, when hanging a character, Dimensions needs numerous interactions from the player. Often during the puzzles, the game requires the mini-figures to be moved around onto one of the three set locations of the LEGO Portal, for example, colour-coded portals appear in the world and by placing the mini-figs onto the sections of the portal that light up with the matching colour, the mini-fig will be teleported to that portal in-game. It's a feature that is used quite often throughout, and is used also for activating characters' special abilities, for example, placing Batman on the section that has begun glowing blue will activate his stealth suit. It's a nice feature and well done, too, but can be quite frustrating at times, requiring either getting up and down very often or a very long USB extension wire.

Screenshot for LEGO Dimensions on Wii U

Even with the many issues, there are still plenty of high points making this worth a pick-up for fans of the LEGO games or even the franchises involved. The core LEGO gameplay remains, for the most part, and is highly enjoyable, especially with some couch co-operative play. The writing is legitimately funny, with some great quips, and plenty of references and nods to fans of the source material.

The voice talent is ridiculous and easily one of the biggest casts ever gathered for a game. Veteran voice actors like Troy Baker and Tara Strong are in as their popular DC comic characters, Chris Pratt returns to provide voices to both his Jurassic World and LEGO movie characters, Alison Brie is back as Unikitty, Doctor Who's Peter Capaldi, Portal's Ellen McLain, Gary Oldman is the original villain of the story, even Marty McFly and Doc Brown themselves are here with Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd delivering some superb performances. This is just the tip of the iceberg! The voice work is superb, with the interactions between the characters making for funny and fantastic nostalgic moments stuffed with winks, Easter eggs and quips. One of the worst aspects of LEGO games based on movies is often the archived voice snippets being used, something that can break immersion, yet this has now been more than addressed and turned into one of the biggest strengths.

It's hard to judge a game like this, which delivers things that many fans would never have had the opportunity to experience otherwise - every Doctor from Doctor Who as LEGO, battling against all of their old enemies? An original Back to the Future story in a game with Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd returning? Fans would immediately jump at a LEGO game based on these titles, but the high-cost requirement for having the starter pack and the individual level packs for each franchise when compared to the amount of content for a specific franchise makes it a hard sell…

Screenshot for LEGO Dimensions on Wii U

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

LEGO Dimensions is filled with promise, but the paywalls and the requirement to regularly interact in-game massively impact upon the final product. Thankfully, this is only the first step of a very long-term plan - there's still plenty of time for the team to balance the paywall and the amount of content per level pack. The team at TT Games has always been fantastic with its fans, happy to take on-board any criticism or suggestion. There would be nothing stopping it from patching more content in for level packs at a later date, either. The core is a solid LEGO title through and through, but it could have been so much more. Cubed3 will cover some of the key level packs very soon.

Developer

Traveller's Tales

Publisher

Warner Bros

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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