LEGO Dimensions Review for Xbox One
UPDATE: A new update to LEGO Dimensions has added the Hire A Hero feature, which allows you to temporarily unlock characters you don’t physically own at the relevant points within levels using the in-game stud currency. This changes the review slightly, as a major negative in the original review was the necessity of buying multiple characters, but we have included the original review below all the same.
Words: Stephen Ashby
LEGO Dimensions is one of two things. It’s either the best LEGO game Travellers Tales has ever made, or it’s the worst money-grab that Travellers Tales has ever made. Which is it? That depends entirely on you and what you want from the game.
Let’s make this clear right from the start: this game can be goddamn expensive. We’re talking hundreds of pounds, oh-my-god-why-are-there-so-many-toys kind of expensive. If you want to complete every part of the main game, including all the collectibles and gold bricks, you’ll need to spend 80 quid on top of the base set at the very least to buy the extra characters and vehicles that
are needed to open new areas and unearth the collectibles.
Unlike the other games in the series – in which you could ‘buy’ characters using the studs you collected and then use them on any level that you revisited – now you have to physically buy them. Using real-life cash… that you collected through doing your day job. That’s going to rankle some players, but it’s worth noting that you can complete the entirety of the story campaign – and get 1000 gamerscore, if that’s your thing – without buying another character or vehicle toy.
Nevertheless, when you’re playing through a level, it can become frustrating. You see a section that requires a different character, and rather than thinking ‘I’ll come back to that later!’ you’ll instead check the price of the character on Amazon. £29? Wow. Okay, maybe I’ll manage without that collectible…
But, having said all that, there’s no doubt in our minds that this is the best LEGO game we’ve played yet. The format remains pretty much identical to the older games in the series, and you can expect to be running around levels smashing everything to bits, building things and solving puzzles just like you have many times before. But the LEGO Gateway, which is what you place the toys upon to make them appear on-screen, takes the puzzles to a whole new level. Before, you would punch stuff, build stuff, and then use a specific character’s skill to open up the next area. In Dimensions, Travellers Tales has done what no toys-to-life game has managed before by making the portal part of the puzzle.
As you progress through the game, your Gateway gains new features. For example, early on you find switches that make your characters glow a certain colour when you run over them. Above a door you’ll see a small diagram that looks just like the Gateway, with each section a different colour. Interesting… You take Batman and run onto the red switch. The Gateway, sitting in front of you, flashes and the section that Batman is standing on changes colour. It’s red! But that doesn’t match the diagram. So you pick up Batman and put him on the right section, and that goes red too. Now you switch to Wyldstyle, colour her blue, and move her to the left area. Gandalf turns yellow and takes the last spot and boom – door open. It’s simple, but brilliant.
This is just one example – in later levels there are up to five different powers on offer, and in some puzzles you will need to use every one of them, in the right order, to get through the door. Which brings us onto our next point neatly: this game is not easy.
The puzzles require far more brain power than we’ve seen in previous LEGO games. For older gamers, this isn’t a bad thing – the extra challenge is good fun. But for parents picking this up for their children to play alone, it may well be too tough. The best way to enjoy this game is, without a doubt, for a parent and child to sit down together. The parents can enjoy the tougher puzzles, and have fun helping their kids work out how to solve them. The kids will enjoy not only the game itself, but the mixing of characters and universes (which works fantastically), the writing (which is excellent, and is delivered by a stellar cast) and the fact that they will be able to play with actual LEGO when the game is switched off.
And that’s worth bearing in mind, too; the game is expensive, but you have to remember that you are also getting real, useable LEGO characters and vehicles that you and any children in your house can enjoy. You need to put the characters together before you put them on the podium, and the vehicles have instruction booklets within the game – we’d forgotten how fun it is to build LEGO.
Perhaps that’s why we think there are two ways to describe this game. We loved the building side of things, we loved the gameplay and puzzles the Gateway brings, and we loved the characters that pop up (GLaDOS, Doc Brown and the Ghostbusters are just a few of our many favourites). But not being able to collect everything without breaking the bank will annoy some. Whether or not you can deal with this annoyance and still enjoy the brilliant game hidden beneath it – that’s the dealbreaker.