Wednesday, 21 September 2016

LEGO Dimensions: Who is the bad guy in this again?

Very quick, before going on as this is before the joke of the title, while late, in the spirit of Talk like a Pirate Day, there is a version of this review in Pirate that you can see here:

No seriously, who? There is someone trying to reconstruct the multiverses and rebuild them in his own image, but we break a lot of things in these games, the golden rule is "If it’s made of LEGO, it can be destroyed" after all. Though then again, this is the opposite extreme to the LEGO movie, which was all about following instructions to the letter and killing imagination...

"Totally not getting this when it comes out, what would ever give you that idea..."

So anyway, LEGO Dimensions, TT Games' Toys to life game, combining the pop culture multiverse into one thing they can all relate to, LEGO. With Year 2 starting next week, which the only reason this isn't coming out next week is because that's the Pokémon Gen IV spot, I figured it might be time to try my hand at reviewing this game before all the year 2 sets start coming out. One thing to note, as I said in the toys to life review, this is a pricy investment, one of the most expensive games I've reviewed, in terms of recommended retail price. You also don't need every set... just a large chunk of them including most of the more expensive sets if you're going for 100% completion. If not, then all you need is the starter pack. 
"You call that a weapon?"

I did gloss over the plot before, but for more detail, Lord Vortech, who has set up base on a planet known as Foundation Prime, has begun hunting "Foundation elements", iconic items from the wave one franchises. Three of these include The Ring, Kryptonite, and Metalbeard's "chest of booty". In doing this, he also kidnaps Frodo, Robin and Metalbeard, and this naturally pisses off Gandalf, Batman and Wyldstyle. The three of them arrive in a dimension at first hidden from Vortech, and using a portal that when powered up, gives the heroes special powers for puzzles, set off to stop Vortech, after restoring said portal, by traveling to the multiverses to retrieve the elements before he does. In order (because again, these are the year 1 sets, minus one IP that I know of), they are: The Wizard of Oz, The Simpsons, LEGO Ninjargo, Doctor Who, DC, Back to the Future, Portal (NOT PORTAL 2, Portal is the IP, Portal 2 is a game!), Lord of the Rings, Ghostbusters, Midway Arcade, Scooby Doo and the LEGO Movie. The only sets not to get a level at all are the LEGO Chima sets.
Something tells me this team wouldn't really work in other contexts...

As you progress through the game, the worlds start to become more and more fractured. At first its tamed, with only major villains entering other worlds (due to Vortech enlisting them to help the search), but as the game goes on, enemies from all the franchises mash together. For example, The Joker in the robot from LEGO Batman 2 destroying Mr Burns' office after trying to stop Lord Business from getting a Uranium fuel rod, Sauron controlling an army of Riddler bots while Two face rides on a weaponized elephant, GLaDOS having a conversation with Hal9000, and then later trying to get the 12th doctor to reinstall one of the cores that Batman and Gandalf use as leverage. General Zod trying to make Ghostbusters New York into new Krypton, using the T.A.R.D.I.S in the Simpsons levels (I'll explain later) to go to either the Flintstones' house or the Jetsons'. One of their promotional videos was a vehicle battle between The Doctor, Doc Brown and Dr Venkman in the T.A.R.D.I.S, Delorian, and Ecto-1 respectively as they all tried to be the first to get through a cross intersection, do you think the devs didn't miss the opportunity to mash the franchises together? In the Portal main level alone I had to summon the trees from Lord of the Rings (honestly don't remember the name, I've only seen the first one and that was a few years ago), the Time Travel Train, The Simpsons Movie wrecking ball gag, a giant coin. Not meaning to sound biased in any way, taking out the fact that I love the Portal games and their writing, but even then some of the best writing has to do with the Portal sections.
You can call us for this, but not Casper

If I can praise Dimensions for anything, it’s that the dev team know how to keep to themes and characters. Everyone, that I can recognize at least, is still in character, though at times exaggerated. But one flaw is in the asset reuse. Not for the levels themselves, but in the voice clips from big movie franchises, when they couldn't get the cast to record new lines. It is most blatant, for me at least, in the Ghostbusters levels, the level pack one being based on Ghostbusters 1, and the main game level being inspired by Ghostbusters 2. The characters who don't get a minifig, but can be played in the game thanks to the character abilities, like Venkman being able to switch between the whole team and The Doctor randomly changing between the 12 doctors, are guilty of this too, but its at its worst in the levels. The Simpsons levels also have the scent of low budget, as the only characters who can talk are Homer and Krusty. Bart, who is a mini fig, is completely mute, and the level from Homer's pack, being a retell of Season 8's El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer does loose some of the effect, as Marge is also mute too. I have no issues with minifigs being mute in the games, all the games pre Batman 2 were mute, but in this context, it just feels off. I'd honestly have preferred reusing sound clips over nothing at all.

Dam it Old Man Jenkins!
One big issue I have with the game comes down to the adventure worlds. Now I'll admit this is mostly due to this being the first LEGO game I've had a decent amount of time put into it that has these kinds of hub worlds. But to me, they're padding, bad padding. In each of them, you need to get a set amount of studs to get the "Rule Breaker", like in the levels. Along with that, there are gold bricks to be used for upgrading vehicles, restoration missions that use studs, and a Red Brick to find. Simple enough right? Well, the big issue is with the stud requirements. While probably due to the T-L style of game, a lot of the more useful red bricks aren't in Year 1. Ones I used a lot like x4, 6, 8, and 10 stud multipliers, Invincibility and Stud Magnet aren't in the game. Granted, Invincibility is there for some characters, and you can upgrade vehicles to have Stud Magnet, but it would be nice for the characters to have it, and it would make the Adventure Worlds flow faster. The only logic I can see for not having them is that to get to the Adventure Worlds, you need a character from that IP, but for the level packs at least it would make sense as they also block a level from being played unless you have that character. I'd rather those then one that changes the music to Doctor Who music, one for 8-bit music, ect. For this review, I've been playing the PS3 version, and this has been one of the most unstable LEGO games I've played (using 1.10), and the theory is that it is the red bricks that are doing it, so  that can go into another flaw, as I've had the game infinite load and freeze on me when using things like the Minikit detector.

Send in the Cybermen... I'm not a Doctor Who fan, that's the best I've got...
One other issue I have that goes back to pacing is level size. Some levels feel bloated, with one that come to mind being the Ghostbusters Level pack (I haven't actually finished Back to the Future 1's level). It is a condensed version of the movie, but going between buildings in a basically identical hub map is boring, and the massive stud count requirement doesn't help. Some people do like it, it comes down to personal taste. Music and visuals do go back to the theming comment I said before, as each level does look, feel and sound different, in keeping with the different franchises. Some things don't really work, like Level pack Staypuff, not the mini fig, but that's more the fact that its made of LEGO, to me it wouldn't look that good in real life, so I'm not going to pan the game for it. Basically, the flaws come down to the Adventure maps, and as I said in the T-L post and at the start of the review, price. For Australia, this isn't worth $170 for the starter pack, and the other packs could go for a price drop too, as getting normal LEGO is far, far, far more cost effective, even here. For US, as a lot of traffic for this site comes from the US and that's the only country I know the prices for. I'd rather be paying your prices, and even then the Starter pack's still a bit of a steep price. For now, I'll leave you with that, as I have one final Dimensions post, mainly as filler for Sunday, and next week, as I said before, Pokémon Generation IV: Diamond, Pearl and Platinum.

Not an official image, just one I found on their official Twitter account, link to the tweet here:

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