Lego Dimensions review

Lego Dimensions was released September 30
Lego Dimensions was released September 30

Last week I became the coolest uncle in the world.

Taking an Xbox One and Lego Dimensions to my nephews Joe and Jamie and letting them go crazy with it for a few days created the sort of excitement adults rarely, if ever, are able to experience.

The game follows on from Skylanders and Disney Infinity as a blend of videogame with real-world toys, known as the toys-to-life genre. Here, those toys are from the enormously awesome Lego brand.

Constructing real-world Lego with genuine brick packs and seeing the characters come alive in-game has been handled superbly, resulting in a hugely fun adventure that includes the likes of Batman, Gandalf, Wyldstyle, Scooby Doo, Homer Simpson, Marty McFly and more.

It's a natural progression from the Lego series of videogames, retaining the endearing and highly amusing writing of that series along with many of its gameplay elements, but ramping it up into an adventure that jumps between franchises in a unique way that really works.

Putting Gandalf in the DeLorean from Back to the Future and having him drive away down the Yellow Brick Road with the Wicked Witch chasing him is just one example of the sort of franchise mash-up fun to be had with this. Those mash-ups make for all sorts of hilarious scripting too.

I had a blast introducing my nephews to the game, albeit with some issues - more on those later. But the most important thing, of course, was how they enjoyed it.

"It is awesome!" Joe exclaimed after several hours of play.

I asked him why he thought that and he replied: "Because we get to kill enemies! My favourite part is smashing and building".

Joe liked playing as Batman the most. He's a huge fan of the Marvel and Star Wars worlds and lamented their absence from the game, but enjoyed it more than previous favourite Lego Marvel Heroes because of the addition of real-world Lego.

Joe actually enjoyed the game on an unintended level as he started referring to the Lego Toy Pad's portal as "the Tesseract", one of the Infinity Stones from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Through playing with the real-world model, Joe believed he was giving the characters more power, as "the greatest scientist of all".

There's something uniquely fun about the way the game gets you to construct real-world Lego that for me is a big advantage over Disney Infinity and Skylanders.

It felt strange the first time an on-screen Lego instruction manual appeared and for about 20 minutes had us building blocks on the lounge floor in real life, but the satisfaction that came along with it was immense.

Occasionally it becomes difficult to see what it is you have to do next, with instructions or indicators being unclear if present at all. Fortunately I always had a smartphone handy, so a helpful walkthrough was never far away - but it would be better if the new gameplay elements were more intuitive and well-explained.

Some puzzles require a combination of standard on-screen gameplay and real-world Toy Pad rearranging to pass. The first few times this happened, the massively exciting experience playing the game generally was turned into slowed-down tedium as I tried to work out what to do.

These periods were never too troublesome for Joe and Jamie, however, who could always amuse themselves by smashing anything they could.

Lego Dimensions is also very much a toy for the rich kids. The starter pack is a cool $200 from EB Games and additional packs are $35 - $60 each. Depending on what franchises you and your kids are into adding, it will quickly mount up to an enormously expensive hobby.

Lego is pretty pricey anyway, particularly if you get into some of the coolest items available like Star Destroyers, the Millennium Falcon, the Ewok Village or the Death Star.

But it's a shame Dimensions isn't more reasonably-priced so more people could enjoy it, as it really is fantastic.

For those wealthy enough to unlock this treasure, this is one of the greatest family gaming experiences I've ever had. It marks an exciting evolution for both the Lego brand and the toys-to-life genre that will bring a huge amount of joy to a great many indeed.

Four-and-a-half stars.

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     LEGO Dimensions  :: Publisher: Warner Bros Interactive:: Developer: TT Games:: Format: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U:: Rating: PG