Lego Dimensions review: Marvellous mash-up but with a cost
Lego Dimensions (PS4/XOne/PS3/X360/Wii U); rating: 9/10; age: 3+
HOWEVER incongruous it may seem for the Batmobile to appear in the medieval land of Middle-earth from Lord of the Rings, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
For Lego Dimensions is built on such contradictions and you will love it for that reason. This is a toys-to-life game in the mould of Skylanders – yet built with imagination and for the imagination.
Underpinned by the familiar Lego brick template that had outlived its original brilliance through over-use, Dimensions injects new life into what had become a tired franchise.
The basic DNA stays the same. But the game has been cross-spliced with more than a dozen story universes (from Batman to The Simpsons and Dr Who) and a smattering of toys-to-life puzzles involving physical characters shuffled on a “portal”.
Most importantly from a young player’s perspective, Dimensions incorporates a serious amount of Lego-building, requiring you to put together three figures, the Batmobile and a complicated portal before you can even get started. That hour or two of tactile play sets it apart from the likes of Skylanders or Disney Infinity, resulting in toys that can be just as entertaining when the game console is off.
Once Dimensions kicks off in earnest, however, the developers’ creativity reaches new heights. The Lego series majors on humour and parody but it never had three heroes from widely diverse series at once riffing on each other’s stereotypes. Gandalf, Batman and Wyldstyle (from the Lego Movie) trade barbs and one-liners like there’s no tomorrow. Even if some of the gags go above young players’ heads, the slapstick comedy more than compensates.
The 14 levels encompass a variety of graphical styles, the cel-shaded style of Scooby-Doo echoing its cartoon origins, for instance. But it’s the sheer breadth of worlds – from Dr Who to Portal to Ghostbusters and many more – that strikes you after a few hours of exploration.
It’s frightening to contemplate the budget for Dimensions because a host of celebrity voices lent their distinctive pipes to the characters’ voices, including Liam Neeson, Elijah Wood, Chris Pratt and Peter Capaldi.
But by then you’ll already have clocked where the money to pay for this extravagance came from – your pocket. The base Lego Dimensions pack costs a startling €150 – a considerable increase on rivals such as the latest Skylanders.
You have to factor in the undeniable value of Lego figures and the sizeable game world which can be finished without paying any extra. But you need also note how Dimensions tantalisingly locks off large areas of content behind paywalls. The game frequently teases with new abilities, characters and missions – but at a cost of a trip to the shops to buy a new expansion ranging in price from €35 to €45 a pop.
Parents should get used to the anguished cries from their little darlings demanding extra packs because they, ahem, need to explore another area.
But that’s the cynical world of toys-to-life in a nutshell. Dimensions is a quite extraordinary game but it’s an expensive habit for any young player to acquire.
Read more: Our Skylanders Superchargers review