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1.21 Gigawatts of Fun.

The phrase “It’s a LEGO game, but with NFC characters” will scare the wallet out of any parent or gamer familiar with the multitude of LEGO Games released over the last 10 years. Usually the games have hundreds of characters from the universe each with unique and special abilities you will need to 100% complete the game. Well LEGO Dimensions changes things up a bit, instead of sticking to 1 franchise like DC or Lord of the Rings, this game mashes up 14 of them together. Riddler & Balrog team up? Check. Lord Business wreaking havoc in Springfield? Check. How about The 12th Doctor driving the Delorean around the world of Portal 2? Well, the doctor isn’t out until November, but it’s possible to do so, if you have the cash to lay out the three additional separate $50 Level Packs with these characters in it that is.

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It’s no lie LEGO, especially in Australia, doesn’t come cheap so neither will the add on packs for LEGO Dimensions. Divided up by 3 pack types, Fun Packs come in the cheapest at $24.95 including a single character and vehicle. If you wanted to double your fun, Team packs include 2 Characters, and 2 Vehicles coming in at $39.95 and as for the aforementioned Level Packs spanning the world of Portal 2, Doctor Who, Ghostbusters and more will set you back $49.95. This is all of course extra content, the game itself comes in a Starter Pack consisting of the 3 main characters, Wyldstyle from The LEGO Movie, Gandalf from Lord of the Rings and Batman with his trusty Batmobile. All that and of course the game and Toy Pad needed to bring the NFC Figures to life, costs $169.95, yes you read that right, there’s a one in front of that number. These prices are all regular retail price, so smart shoppers will be able to save some money, but it’s quite easy to see this will set you back quite a lot of your hard earned dollars compared to other Toys to Life games like Skylanders and Disney Infinity.

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The reason the cost is so high, is because you’re getting actual LEGO to build and play with, while only the Toy Tag bases are NFC Enabled, so you technically don’t have to build anything if you don’t want to, each pack  you’ll have to piece together yourself. The Toy Pad itself requires some tinkering to build up, all 170 pieces of it, and weirdly enough it’s the only printed instructions included for the entire series. All additional packs, except the character’s themselves (which aren’t hard to put together a couple of pieces) have the instructions included digitally in the game. This is great incase you ever lose the instructions, as all the vehicles and items included in the game can be built in 3 different variants throughout the game when you upgrade them, but it meant buying the entity of Wave 1, it took me about 4-5 hours to build everything as i had to do everything one at a time with the onscreen instructions, which at least gave me something to do while i waited for the Day 1 Patch to download. Yes, even LEGO can’t avoid a day 1 patch nowadays, You’ll need 1.5Gb of time and space on Wii U, this is bound to make a slow christmas morning. While you can play the game without the patch, you’ll only be able to play the contents of the start pack, any level kit or additional characters won’t be able to register without the patch.

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With an Army of LEGO built, your patch installed, it’s finally time to break the rules and start mixing Dimensions. LEGO seems to be best when creating a story rather than retelling it, LEGO City Undercover is considered one of the best in the long running series, and the LEGO Movie was a box office smash. Although using the existing IP of 14 franchises, LEGO Dimensions weaves them into a new a great story. Lord Vortech has captured Metalbeard, Frodo & Robin by creating dimensional warpholes to find the Foundation Elements of the Universe. This happens to include Kryptonite, The One Ring & Metalbeard’s Treasure hence why the characters were taken. This is also how the game will lead through the other 11 franchises through 14 Levels. Most of the franchises are represented by their own level, however The LEGO Movie, The Legend of Chima & Jurassic World are missing a story level dedicated to them. The Latter can be thought to skip out with the recently released LEGO Jurassic World, and Chima being a lesser known franchise, but the exclusion of a dedicated LEGO Movie world is quite confusing. Each level took me about an hour to complete, some less, some more depending on what abilities i had on hand to progress through the levels. Some abilities are only required to unlock a Roulette Brick that shuffles between colours for extra studs, but most of the abilities are used for Minikits or accessing a secret area of the level that most seem to have (I can’t actually confirm this as not everything has been released yet).

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The game’s tutorial will conveniently tell you what ability you need to use at any given secret, and a list of characters and vehicles that can use them. While not outright telling you to buy more characters, almost immediately in starting the first level, I was told “A Character like the Wicked Witch can destroy Silver LEGO”. The First level itself had about 6-7 occasions where i needed another character, one of which won’t be available until March next year. There’s not a single level in the game you can complete, even if you spend over $600 to get every single pack on day 1, and with the next waves of toys coming out in November, January, March & May, it will be a long time before you could. It’s very annoying getting so far, opening so many doors and when the collectable is right in front of you… a Character like Peter Venkman can suspend ghosts. It’s a little sad how that sense of achievement in levels can just immediately blow away because of something you don’t own. This is not uncommon in Toys to Life game, but i think LEGO shot themselves in the foot a little by announcing the dates ahead of time. Skylanders waves are never really broadcast, the figure you need could come out tomorrow, or 6 months from now, but with LEGO Dimensions, I know it won’t be until March 2016 i can do certain actions and it made me not want to replay most of the story levels until then, and at that point you probably will be able to pick up some massive discounts if you just wait until March and buy what you need.

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You won’t need to buy every single pack to get 100% of the content, but you will need about half which adds up quick. The abilities that are required in the game are those of Batman, Wyldstyle, Gandalf & the Batmobile, of course being included in the starter pack. However if you do want to mix things up, Wonder Woman can do anything Batman can and fly (which does break the flow of the game a lot), Gandalf is very replaceable with the Wicked Witch, Wyldstyle shares the ability with Bad Cop with the relic detector, but Bad Cop is the only LEGO Movie character that’s not a master builder. As for the batmobile, almost any car can substitute it.  Wonder Woman, Bad Cop & the Wicked Witch driving Homer Simpson’s Car, hows that for a fun group of dimensional saviours.

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To break up the monotony of the same abilities being used in puzzle solving, the Toy Pad itself is used very frequently. Keystones, which are unlocked through the main story of the game, give the ability to physically move around the toys to change their effect in game. The Toy Pad is divided up into 3 sections, Left, Right & Middle, and can hold a total of 7 Figures either Character or Vehicles. 4 of the 5 Keystones use the location of the figures to solve puzzles, the Toy Pad for instance using the Shift Keystone, will light up 3 different colours that correspond to 3 different portals that have opened up in the game. Simply moving the figure (or lifting and retapping if already in that location) to the colour you want the character to go to will suck them up and teleport them. This can also be used with Scale Keystone, left side making the characters tiny, and right quite Large, or Chroma Keystone which opens up 3 coloured paint blobs in the world and will dye the section of the Toy Pad that colour to open up doors. This is the only Toys to Life game so far to ever use the physical placement of the toys to change their ingame effect and it works brilliantly for the most part. As mentioned before, even though the game is capable of reading 7 toys at once, shuffling these around are quite annoying when there’s no free space left, I personally found 5 being the magic number, although the 3 Starter Pack Characters will always be needed in levels. This is notable mostly when playing Co-op, which returns from the franchise, as having a second player and constantly shuffling their minifig around to suit your needs and vice versa can cause a bit of a stir.

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The second complaint is with how frequently you are required to move the toys around, even for abilities like Wyldstyles Master Building, Gandalf’s Illumination, or a very Metal Gear Solid esque “move the character to another section to avoid damage or restriction”, it means you’re constantly having to be close to the portal. The USB cable will be long enough for most people, but a wireless option would have been great. With how quickly you need to move and use characters, it’s great that scanning them in only takes a second or two compared to the much longer times of Skylanders & Disney Infinity.

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The Story took me about 13-15 hours to complete, and if that’s not enough for you, there’s 15 Adventure Worlds – one for every franchise, plus a secret one. These are comparable in size to Hub Worlds from previous games, and are filled with Quests and Races. This is where most of the Gold Bricks are kept, and all of the Red Bricks in the game (1 per franchise world). You can access these worlds at any point in the game after the first level, but the catch is, you will need a character of the corresponding franchise on the Toy Pad to enter. This means you can only access Lego Movie, DC and Lord of the Rings in the starter pack, along with the mystery dimension after unlocking it with 20 Gold Bricks. At the time of this review, Ghostbusters, Midway Arcade & Doctor Who are unavailable to explore as none of the figures have been released. The levels are jam packed with things to explore, and I must say I did lose track of time quite a lot while bumbling my way through tunnels, secrets, and flying around the LEGO Movie World, and to think there’s another 13 of them is just a huge amount of content. The only negative is the Rule Breaker (Stud collector Rank) on the adventure worlds must be done in 1 sitting as they won’t save. These seem to be in the hundreds of thousands of studs so it will take hours even with the 2x Stud Multiplier Red Brick enabled, the only multiplier in the game. Adventure worlds are massive, and there’s no way I could have completed every single one before this review, as The LEGO Movie world took me around 3 hours collecting everything that I could. Unlike the Story Levels where you will have sections that need a Chi gate to open, which can be done with any of the 3 Chima Characters, adventure worlds require a second layer, for instance not only did i need to open a Chi gate, but I needed to do that underwater, which only Kragger could do making it much more specific as the other 2 Chima characters (and most of the characters in general) can’t actually go underwater without the use of a vehicle.

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The toys-to-life games have traditionally not performed the best on the lower powered Wii U, thankfully LEGO Dimensions is one of the more well behaved games. Unlike Disney Infinity 3.0 the game loads swiftly even switching and out of different dimensions, perhaps it’s just the prettier dimension travel screen that’s a distraction instead of the usual tip-filled still.

The game does trip up at times when action is heavy on the screen, having more characters and objects on your portal doesn’t seem to change this it just seems to get slow during some portions of the game – for the most part the game runs fluidly and has some really advanced lighting and effects. The GamePad is used sparingly like pretty much every other LEGO game. It either shows a mirror of the screen, which an annoying icon in the corner on both screens so you know you can turn it off, or you can switch out characters. It’s a shame the mini-map couldn’t be put on here as the Adventure Worlds do have a lot to collect and do and being able to scan around a map, like LEGO City Undercover had would have been great.

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There’s been so much care put into this game to faithfully represent the franchises. LEGO Movie characters have about half the movement animations compared to the other characters to match the style of the movie. The dialogue is straight up hilarious in parts, and while it’s unfortunate nothing happens when using the Wicked Witch in the OZ Level, or even when fighting her in the first boss fight, there’s some dialogue between the non story characters. Wyldstyle & Emmet will have a conversation about why he’s tagging along, Gandalf will be glad Gimli made it out of the mines, Cybermen will ask Cyborg how human he still is, Scooby will sing the batman theme song, almost every character will mention how Batman isn’t a real bat, Emmet will ask Batman if he’s the good batman or the jerk batman and this doesn’t even scratch the surface of the smiles i had on my face while playing this game.

While all this is great, it only highlights even more that they very clearly couldn’t get the licensing of the Simpsons. The included Simpsons Story level barely has anything to do with Springfield or Homer as they didn’t record any new dialogue and instead reuses samples from the TV Show. This is easily the worst level in the game because of this, the Scooby Doo level looks like the cartoon, The Ghostbusters Theme song plays along with other 80’s tunes, Glados will shit talk you as is expected from Portal, they even got Michael J Fox & Christopher Lloyd to play Marty & Doc Brown…. but the Simpsons opening theme isn’t there, and it honestly makes me question why if they couldn’t do it right, why they didn’t bother until next year, or replace it with one of the other multitudes of franchises they could have used.

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A Separate review of the 3 available Level Kits for the Simpsons, Portal 2 & Back to the Future will appear on the site later this week. Daniel P played the PS4 Version of the game and Daniel V played the Wii U version. All of the figures and the game was purchased by the reviewers. All screenshots are from the Wii U game. 

What's your reaction?
Awesome
37%
Oh wow!
11%
Great
5%
Fresh
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Hmm
21%
Disappointing!
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Grrrr
21%
About The Author
Daniel P
4 Comments
  • Oliver Winfree
    October 9, 2015 at 10:44 am

    Thanks for the review guys. Wow, as much as I would love to play this game, I’m gonna wait for the clearance sales…and even then I’m gonna buy it on the xbox one, since who knows if the next edition will be out on the Wii U or NX?

    • Adam
      October 9, 2015 at 6:15 pm

      Doesn’t matter which console the next one is on, saves don’t carry over, only the figures.
      Gamepad features always make these games so much easier on Wii U, especially Lego games with map or easy character switching or main screen easy to switch etween on the gamepad.

  • Adam
    October 9, 2015 at 6:13 pm

    Fun packs are 20, team packs 30, level packs 38 and the game 119

  • ShayNeary
    October 10, 2015 at 5:20 pm

    The game and figures look fantastic! Though I am giving it a miss. I don’t want to invest and I’m also pretty tired of the Lego game formula.

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