E3 Reaction: LEGO Dimensions Changes the Game of Toys-to-Life Titles

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Toys-to-life gaming is a booming market. Even though just two titles make up the landscape of this new subgenre, some might think it’s already getting crowded since both Skylanders and Disney Infinity each have dozens of usable toys that players can buy to use in the game. A new challenger has entered the arena though in the form of LEGO Dimensions. What’s so remarkable about the game is that we’re on the fifth “Skylanders” game and the third Disney Infinity and “Dimensions” is already outdoing them both.

With LEGO Dimensions, WBIE and TT Games have combined every possible franchise at their disposal, and some surprises, to create an amalgamation of the titans of entertainment. In the game, you’ll find Wildstyle from The LEGO Movie, Gandalf from The Lord of The Rings, and Batman from everything, plus the world of The Wizard of Oz, Portal, “Scoob- Doo,” “Doctor Who,” Back to the Future, Jurassic World, and even more. In this regard, they’ve already outdone the competition. In Disney Infinity you can only bring all the characters together in the “Toy Box” mode, with very little crossover in the actual story. LEGO Dimensions, however,  lets you play as any character during any story at any time.

Within each of these toys-to-life games there is a portal where the player puts the toys down so they can appear in game, and LEGO Dimensions does it better than any of them. Not only are there seven slots on the pad, meaning you can play with seven different LEGO minifigs at a time, there are gameplay elements that utilize the toy pad in new and exciting ways. If you’ve played any LEGO game before, then you know that they have a repeating series of puzzles. LEGO Dimensions takes those and adds even more to the list, utilizing a series of special abilities that have the toy pad at the center. Sometimes entering a building requires players to augment the colors of the toy pad, which sees them jump in a vat of color in game and then move the minifig itself onto the corresponding area that requires this color. Other features include adding portals to the level that can put characters in unreachable corners, or shrinking/growing in size to solve puzzles. There are also some moments where players can summon in other LEGO characters to help them out,

I went through three levels of LEGO Dimensions, the first being The Wizard of Oz where the film’s four lead characters were accidentally sucked up into a portal and transported to Glenda only knows where. For the sake of variety I played with Batman, Scooby-Doo, and Chell from Portal, who also drove the Delorean from Back to the Future. After fighting off the Wicked Witch of the West, we made our way to the next set of levels at Aperture Science from Portal. This is where a big divide comes in for LEGO Dimensions as none of the worlds have the same style of puzzles. The gameplay at the center of the Portal levels is indicative of the gameplay of Portal, where as the requirements of The Wizard of Oz were at the heart of the film.

Being as big of a Portal fan as I am, the levels featuring GLaDOS were a real treat. It also works where this level can fit into the continuity of the Portal games as it very clearly takes place between the two games, which I won’t spoil. Following a turn at Aperture, we went to realm of Scooby-Doo which saw the full gang investigating a mummy at a fun park. While Shaggy and Scooby went to the fun park, Fred, Daphne, and Velma went into the nearby haunted mansion. Here is where another interesting point about LEGO Dimensions comes up, there is no uniform visual look. The Wizard of Oz levels look like the film, the Portal levels look like the game, and the “Scooby-Doo” levels take on an appearance of the cartoons. It’s a perfect touch for a game about hopping from one world to another.

Overall, I found LEGO Dimensions a far more rewarding experience than other LEGO games of recent memory. The puzzles are fresh, the level designs are great, and it has an expanded sense of humor from the typical pie-in-the-face gags fans are used to. LEGO Dimensions is shaping up to become the be-all-end-all of toys-to-life games, not only because of its genre and world-blending story but its enjoyable gameplay and shifting visuals. The only issue, like all toys-to-life games, is the cost of gaining every peripheral and accessory, because LEGO Dimensions appears to have just as many, if not more, than its competitors.

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