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Lego Dimensions preview

Digital plastic bricks meet real ones in the latest likely toys-to-life phenomenon

Lego appeals to all ages and it knows it. Recent years have seen a host of blockbuster franchises turn a child’s plaything into a collector’s paradise.

Whether you’re a young ‘un or fully-grown fan of Lego, this year’s new toy-game hybrid will dial the excitement up to eleven. Lego Dimensions takes the Toys to Life seed planted by Skylanders and watered by Disney Infinity and creates an experience unlike any other video game to date.

Still not interested? How about if I tell you it will include content from Portal, Doctor Who, The Simpsons, Jurassic World, DC Comics, Back to the Future and Lord of the Rings? Being able to pull out Chell’s Portal gun or team up with K-9 for some TARDIS time-travelling should make Dimensions appeal wider than that of one-franchise titles.

This being Lego, it’s not cheap. The Starter Pack comes in at around £90 on previous generation platforms and £100 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. While this offers a full range of those franchise experiences, Level and Team packs extend and deepen the scope, and will cost in the region of £25.

Lego of my toys

Like Skylanders, you bring characters into the game by placing their Lego mini-figure on its version of the “Portal of Power” — the “Toy Pad”. But Dimensions does more with its plastic peripheral than its competitors.

The Toy Pad can light up different regions with different colours. This ties into a range of puzzle mechanics in the game whereby placing the right character on the right region will enable you to progress. It sounds a little arbitrary, but in the game it works well to integrate physical and virtual play.

By selecting a particular mode, Scale, Chroma, Locate, Shift or Elemental, the Toy Pad has different powers. With Scale selected for instance, placing a physical figure on the left region will make them shrink in the game and be able to get through tiny gaps. Place them on the right to super-size them and march through blocked areas.

Taking its peripheral further

Another nice touch is the wealth of additional Lego build instructions that are unlocked as you progress. The game supports different vehicles that come with one build. Use these in the game and you can unlock new builds, once you tell the game you have built these with your Lego and you unlock new vehicles on-screen.

Of course, you can just cheat and not actually rebuild it at all, but still this back and forth between game and toy is good to see and warrants some of the extra expense.

Game-play in general is what we have come to know (and love) from TT Games’ Lego offerings. Both the humour and platform action are again pixel perfect. Also with the multiple franchises, it has the feel of The Lego Movie‘s mash up — bringing together brands usually kept apart (including The Lego Movie itself).

Familiarity is perhaps the biggest downside of this and the other Lego video games: we generally know what we are getting ahead of time. The way the game works with the Toy Pad is inventive but also feels like it reduces variety.

Pret a portal

The Portal gun’s presence in any video game is an exciting prospect, but here it slots in to a general ability to shift from one location to another. I presume the TARDIS will do the same. This no doubt works well but reduces the novelty of these brand’s inclusion.

To linger too long on these minor quibbles is to miss the sheer excitement and joy of a game that celebrates iconic brands. Both the toys and game ooze care and attention to detail, and that should be sufficient to satisfy even the most ardent of fans.

Lego Dimensions will be released on 29 September in the UK on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

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