And the moment I've been waiting for has finally arrived... my copy of LEGO Dimensions was delivered today.
For those not in the know, Dimensions integrates many of the LEGO franchises into a single video game. You start out with characters from LEGO Batman, LEGO Lord of the Rings, and The LEGO Movie in the starter set, but can then add other "worlds" like Scooby Doo, The Simpsons, Ghostbusters, Dr. Who, Back to the Future, The Wizard of Oz, (and so on) with add-on packs...
If you've played any of the other LEGO video games, you already know how things work. You run your little LEGO mini-figure around solving puzzles and breaking stuff to collect LEGO studs so you can buy in-game upgrades with them.
I love, love, love all the various LEGO games, and having them all come together in a giant mash-up is amazing. And really fun to play.
The difference from previous games being the addition of the LEGO Dimensions portal pad peripheral (built from LEGO, natch) which allows you to interact with the mini-figs in the game...
A lot of your time will be spent moving characters and their vehicles around on this thing. Wicked Witch of the West have your character trapped? Simply remove them from one area of the portal pad and place them on another to escape. Need a character who can fly to solve a particular puzzle? Swap out WyldStyle for Wonder Woman and you're good to go. Need a vehicle to get past some obstacle? Place the Batmobile on the portal pad and it instantly appears in-game.
As if that weren't enough, building with LEGO is an integral part of the game experience. The Wonder Woman add-on pack, for example, tells you how to build Wonder Woman so you can add her to the portal pad and get her in that game. But you also get a bag of bricks for her Invisible Plane that comes with no instructions whatsoever. When you add Wonder Woman to the game, then the game itself instructs you how to build her plane and add it as well. Even better? Some in-game builds have to be re-built in order to turn it into something new that progresses the story. That's a key element of playing with LEGO bricks, and the way they've integrated it into the game is pretty darn amazing. Dimensions truly is a melding of on-screen gaming with physical LEGO sets, which is what makes it so much more interesting to me than the toy/game hybrid competition.
With that in mind, it's this physical interaction from toy to video game that makes LEGO Dimensions so compelling... and so frustrating.
Compelling because you can mix-and match characters until your heart's content. Want to have Homer Simpson, Scooby Doo, and Dr. Who all playable in the same game? Drop them on the portal pad and they're yours. Want to have Batman driving The Mystery Machine? Easy. Hobbits in Gotham City? No problem. Scooby Doo in Jurassic Park? You got it. You can choose whatever characters you have available and add or subtract them from the game worlds at will.
Frustrating because you can't play with Marty McFly unless you run out and buy the Back to the Future add-on pack. Further frustrating because certain areas of the game are locked off unless you run out and buy the appropriate character pack. Want to explore Springfield? Well, unless you go buy an add-on pack with a Simpsons character in it, you're out of luck. Want to collect that Gold Brick guarded by a Spinjitsu Gate? If you don't have a Ninjago character to unlock it, no dice. It goes on and on. Sometimes there are alternative characters you can use, sometimes not. At least not yet.
And I have to admit, I'm a little disappointed in this. I didn't buy any of the Chima sets or Ninjago sets because I'm not interested in them. And if that means I can't play in the Chima or Ninjago worlds, I'm perfectly okay with that. What I didn't expect is that skipping a few sets would lead me to miss out on part of the main game. Being told you can't access a part of the story unless you have the Peter Venkman mini-fig (who won't be released until January 2016) is also a little harsh... but also a little exciting because I will absolutely buy that set, and now have something to look forward to. That will keep the game fresh. But what if I wasn't a Ghostbusters fan? Buy it anyway? That adds up to spending a serious chunk of cash for something you'd just as soon do without, just because you want to finish the game. Not cool.
And speaking of expensive...
LEGO Dimensions is as addictive as crack and almost as pricey.
In summary... I LOVE THIS GAME! If you've enjoyed all the other LEGO video games, you probably will enjoy this one too. Just make sure you know the financial burden you're buying into before you start.