I’ve just got back from spending an hour and a half at Warner Brothers in Holborn playing LEGO Dimensions on the PS4 and I’m excited.
TT Games have made a shedload of great LEGO games over the last ten years, from Star Wars to Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, Batman and the Marvel & DC superheroes but LEGO Dimensions takes things to, well, a different Dimension.
LEGO Dimensions takes the logical step of bringing the LEGO toys that formed the inspiration for the LEGO videogames into the game itself via a portal called the LEGO Toy Pad.
It’s obvious that LEGO have taken their time moving into the emerging “toys-to-life” gaming market, looking at what has and hasn’t worked elsewhere with Skylanders and Disney Infinity and have gone the extra mile in making their product a proper second generation system. There is some very clever stuff lying underneath the Toy Pad. Whilst other systems rely on a chip in the base of the character, the Toy Pad is a lot cleverer than that, and can re-programme the chips in the vehicles, light up different colours, recognises three different areas, which are incorporated into puzzle solving and can take up to 7 characters or vehicles at any one time.
If you’ve ever played a LEGO videogame, you’ll know the complete love and attention that goes into the design (think LEGO Batman 3, when you select Wonder Woman, you get the Linda Carter 1970’s theme tune playing in the background), and this is carried through into LEGO Dimensions. Put Marty McFly, for example, on the Toy Pad and he plays the electric guitar like he does in the film.
One of the character packs we got to play with was the Doctor Who & TARDIS set. The LEGO figure is Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor but if you take him into the TARDIS, you can regenerate him into any of the other Doctors, including the War Doctor, and Paul McGann’s Doctor Who the Movie Doctor. What’s more, exit the TARDIS and go back in, and you’ll find the interior has changed to match the period. William Hartnell’s TARDIS is even black and white (and slightly out of focus), and it’s obvious some of the roundels are painted on sheets (as they were in the TV show as they ran out of money). If your Doctor dies, he regenerates as the next Doctor too, a fact which saw me hurl the Doctor repeatedly to his death, just to see it work. Each Doctor has his own theme tune and there different Doctor incidental music too. The Doctor Who & K9 pack is due in November, with a Dalek and Cyberman (modern, not retro) due in January. As a Doctor Who fan, this in itself is enough to make it a necessary purchase for me!
Even from the unfinished build we played (the game is due out 29 September), the quality and variety was astounding. Levels ranged from the Wizard of Oz (Batman attacks the Scarecrow as he thinks he’s a super-villian) to a level from the videogame Portal, to a haunted mansion from Scooby-Doo, rendered in a lovely cartoon cel-shaded style.
Like other games of this sort, there is a starter pack, which is quite expensive (£89.99 on last gen consoles, £99 on PS4/XB1), but includes enough for you to play the game and have a lot of fun for a very long time. The pack contains the LEGO Toy Pad, Bricks to build the Lego Gateway, an instruction booklet to build the Lego Gateway, Batman (from DC Comics), Gandalf (from The Lord of the Rings), Wyldstyle (from The Lego Movie) and the Batmobile. The Batmobile can be rebuilt into 2 other designs that help solve puzzles. The game itself gives virtual instructions on how to physically rebuild the LEGO, and the Toy Pad re-programmes the chip in the base unit to recognise it as the rebuilt model.
When I initially saw the pricing, I wasn’t convinced but having used the Toy Pad, I can see why it costs a bit more than a Skylanders or Disney Infinity Starter pack. The Toy Pad is light years ahead in terms of complexity and use; it properly makes things interactive. For example, if Batman gets hit by a spell from the Wicked Witch, he can only overcome the effects if you move his LEGO figure to a section on the Toy Pad that isn’t covered by the spell; you have the aforementioned reprogramming of vehicles and up to 7 vehicles or character involved at any one point. LEGO have also promised that the Toy Pad won’t be superseded by later updates.
Since the game operates using a central hub like LEGO Batman 3, it’s easy to have different styles for different levels and to add extra content at a later point. From what I saw from the version we played though, there is no risk that the game has been strip mined of content in order to sell it to you later on as downloadable content. TT Games just aren’t that sort of company and Warner Brothers obviously respect the LEGO brand and universe they’ve created enough to know that they have an exceptional game here that doesn’t need to rob players to make them an awful lot of money.
If you’re interested in seeing the exact release schedule for the expansion figure/vehicle packs, there is a downloadable guide here. As with other more recent LEGO games, different characters have different abilities too, so with a lot of the puzzles it’s necessary to switch to the character with the right attributes.
LEGO Dimensions is due out on 29 September and can be preordered from any good retailer. It’s looking brilliant, I can’t wait to get my hands on it!