In our house, we love our LEGO. With my daughter beside me, I’ve built a fairly solid collection of Star Wars vehicles and playsets (and there’s a Millennium Falcon and Jabba’s Sail Barge still waiting to have their boxes cracked open). For me, this is a family experience, and one that is somewhat unique to LEGO. It leads to a certain amount of bonding, though if I’m honest, my daughter often will encourage me to build while she goes off to play with something a little less complex.
One thing she loves though, are the LEGO video games. We’ve played almost all of them, from LEGO Star Wars and LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, to LEGO Harry Potter and LEGO Batman. Some of these have been on consoles, while others have been via their iOS iterations. Whichever version she’s playing, she seriously gets into them. And she’s a good gamer, to boot.
When I told her we’d be reviewing the newest LEGO video game experience, LEGO Dimensions, the girl was completely psyched. And it’s always cute to see a psyched five-year old, believe me. If you don’t know, LEGO Dimensions is the company’s first foray into the toys as games market, similar to Skylanders and Disney Infinity (a franchise that is equally beloved in our house as well). In this world, multi-dimensions are crossing over into one huge, genre spanning game. Among the popular properties – DC Comics; Lord of the Rings; Portal; Back to the Future; Doctor Who; Ghostbusters, The Wizard of Oz; the Simpsons; the Wizard of Oz; Jurassic World; and the LEGO Movie.
Now, admittedly, I’ve never been one for these sort of genre-bending crossovers. I know, I know – look, it’s the fanboy in me. My stance has always been fairly rigid – DC and Marvel have their own universes and rarely if ever should the two meet. But with the brilliant LEGO Movie, the company proved extremely capable in crossing the streams, so to speak, and once I started playing LEGO Dimensions, I was able to put that old bias away.
The game’s starter pack, which runs for a pricey $109.99 and which we were playing on the Playstation 4, comes with not only the game itself, but the base and portal which you put together. This is LEGO, after all. And really, that’s half the fun of the entire concept. Unlike previous LEGO games, where you’re playing in the video game world, what you create physically manifests itself onscreen for you to utilize. Case in point, you’ve got Gandalf, Wild Style and Batman characters as part of your starter pack, along with pieces to create the Batmobile, which you then place on the base and use in the game. It’s really very cool. You can pick and place the various characters and vehicle where you want, and if they’re on the base, they’re in the game.
Along with the starter pack, there are a variety of level packs to choose from. These would be additional games of varying lengths that you can consider add ons, but far from necessary. Once you complete a given level, you also have the chance to wander around that world. My daughter and I are big fans of Back to the Future (well, I am, she’s still learning, McFly), so we decided to pick up that Level Pack and have a play with it. Now, the good of this is hearing Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd supply their voices for Marty and Doc Brown, respectively. It’s also super cool to see the Back to the Future world come to LEGO life. But damn if I didn’t find the initial game play in the level bloody hard. There’s a certain expectation that LEGO games will be somewhat easy to figure out, and it just wasn’t happening for me. If anything, my only real critique for both the starter pack main game and the Back to The Future Level Pack is that game play could be a little more intuitive. I shouldn’t be getting so frustrated trying to figure out how to get out of a parking lot!
That being said, it was truly a highlight when it came time for us to build the DeLorean and my daughter yelped, “Yes!” as we set about the task. And that’s where LEGO Dimensions succeeds above and beyond all the other similar style games that are out there (and like I said, we’re a Disney Infinity family here). This game allows for physical creation – sure, it’s relatively simple stuff, but there’s something gloriously fun about doing that together with your kid. And while I previously wasn’t sold on the notion of world’s crossing over, the folks at TT and LEGO have managed to create a game that allows this old curmudgeon to get over himself and simply walk down the proverbial yellow brick road.
The first wave of LEGO Dimensions products are on store shelves now, but I can tell you that both my daughter and I are eagerly anticipating the next batch, which will include Ghostbusters and Doctor Who Level Packs.
Thanks to LEGO, it’s really going to be an expensive and expansive holiday season!