E3 2015 Games to Watch – LEGO Dimensions

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Traveller’s Tales have been making LEGO games since 2005, starting with their very first game, LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game to their most recent release of LEGO Jurassic World.  In that time they have developed one of the most accessible and fun 3D Action Platformering experiences on consoles today. The next game in the series, LEGO Dimensions, is the most ambitious title so far and, if early impressions are to be trusted, it may be their best.

The 2015 Electronics Entertainment Expo was held June 9th through June 14. If you are unfamiliar with E3, it’s a trade show for video game publishers and developers. This year, there were a ton of new games shown for fall 2015 and beyond. Over the new few weeks I’m going to highlight a few of my favorite games shown at the show.

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The basics of the game are no surprise for fans of the series. The game consists of story based missions where you jump and punch your way to the end. Like all LEGO games, the missions are structured for Co-Op where you switch between different characters with different abilities to accomplish certain goals. The fun is only enhanced when you bring another person in the room and let them jump in and play along with you.

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While the skeleton is pretty much the same, the meat of this experience is different in several huge ways. First, is the story. All previous LEGO games consist of a story from the licensed property attached to the game, where Dimensions is a fully original story that encompasses multiple licenced properties.  The story revolves around Lord Vortech who is opening portals and recruiting villains to help him take over the Multiverse.  During this process he pulls in Frodo, Robin, and Metalbeard.  That sends Gandalf, Batman, and Wyldstyle into the portal to save their friends.  And they start in…Oz! That’s right, our characters are going to journey from Gotham to Oz to Hill Valley to all of space and time.  The licenses represented so far also include Scooby Doo, Jurassic Word, Portal, Ninjago, Chima, and The LEGO Movie.  The game is packed.  

The second huge change for the series is that it’s moving to a “Toys to Life” model.  In short, this means it’s joining the ranks of games like Skylanders and Disney Infinity by letting you purchase real, physical toys and using them to play in game via the USB “Portal” included in the starter pack.  This will be a very familiar concept to fans of those other series. In Dimensions, there are 3 types of packs being released. (1)Level Packs, which include a figure, a vehicle, an accessory, and a character specific bonus level. (2)Team Packs, which include 2 figures and 2 vehicles. (3)Fun Packs, which include 1 figure and 1 vehicle. Best part though is these are LEGOs, so unlike a stationary figure on a stand, these sets can be assembled and disassembled however you’d like. Not to mention, if you are a LEGO fan, these are just cool sets to buy and own even without the game.

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For me, the best part of their vision is that they are addressing what I feel is the biggest misstep of their competitors, and that’s compatibility.  There are charts, lots of charts, for Disney Infinity and Skylanders that show what works with what and what you need for each game and so on and so forth.  It is almost a chore to research just so that you and your kids can enjoy an experience. In LEGO Dimensions, you get a starter pack with 3 figures (Batman, Gandalf, and Wyldstyle) and if you just want the main story, you will play through it with those characters alone and have a full experience. Now, let’s say that you purchase the Back to the Future Level Pack which includes a BTTF Hub World and Marty McFly. You will be able to go back into the story mode, choose Free Play, and replay those levels with Marty if you’d like. You can also play the bonus BTTF level with Marty McFly but you can also choose Free Play and play the full BTTF level with Batman or Wonder Woman or anyone.  Then, on top of all of that, you can play as any character in the HUB worlds and just run around unlocking stuff and collecting gold bricks.  Traveller’s Tale has also promised that anything you buy for Dimensions is future proof and will work with any new game or content they release under the LEGO Dimensions branding. From the sound of it, they have this genre figured out.

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In the end, LEGO Dimensions is one of my most anticipated games of the year. As both a huge fan of the TT LEGO Games and of the LEGO toys themselves, this game speaks to me. And while the Toys to Life movement can be an expensive endeavour, knowing the quality of the LEGO brand makes it just a little easier to jump in. The game launches on just about everything on September 27th in North America. Keep your eyes on Geek Family Media because we will be doing unboxings of all the packs, Let’s Plays of the game, and a full review in the coming weeks.

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