LEGO: Dimensions Hands-on at Comic-Con

Playing this game is just like playing The LEGO Movie.

Last week during Comic-Con, I had a chance to play LEGO Dimensions. The game demo was set up at the Hard Rock Hotel and it was open to the public, so Comic-Con badges weren't required. I'm not surprised that there was a line around the block to play the demo because people of all ages wanted to get their hands on this fun title. When I entered the demo room, there were nearly fifty people all huddled around different monitors, and there was a line at the booth where pre-orders were being taken.

For those unfamiliar with this game, it's basically a cross between the popular LEGO games, the LEGO movie, LEGO build sets, and the toys-to-life genre. What this means is that players buy LEGO mini-figure heroes, build them, and then place them on a gateway portal to transport them into a LEGO game. Like the movies, this game mixes LEGO characters from numerous franchises like DC comics, the Portal video game, Jurassic World, Lord of the Rings, Back to the Future, The Simpsons, Uni-Kitty, and many, many more! The demo showcased a two-player cooperative game where players team up and fight against evildoers. Just like other toys-to-life games, players can swap out characters at will.

One of the more surprising, and welcome, additions to this game is the inclusion of Doctor Who content. That's right, all twelve doctors and the Tardis make an appearance in a very interesting way. Instead of being forced to buy a dozen Doctors, players only have to buy the Doctor Who level pack that includes the 12th Doctor, the Tardis, and the classic K-9 robotic dog (Cybermen sold separately). What's cool about this is that players can hop into the Tardis and switch between all twelve Doctors whenever they choose. When this happens, the interior of the Tardis also changes to match each Doctor. Another cool feature is that players automatically switch to the next doctor whenever they die, similar to how regenerations work in the TV show.

I played the PS4 demo of the game along with a six-year old kid who preferred using Batman. Of course, I chose the 12th Doctor and the Tardis because I'm an uber-geek. Thanks to the fact that his game is being developed by Traveler's Tales, it felt just like playing recent LEGO video games that are more complex. The familiar act of breaking items down into bricks and then using them to build useful items was present throughout the demo, and there were some new tricks too. For instance, certain areas had ice covering bricks, and it was possible to activate a flame shield which lets players shoot flames onto the ice and melt it. In another area, it was handy to bring Scooby Doo into the game because he imparts a stealth ability that turns players invisible. I used this ability to sneak past turrets to a switch that deactivated them.

Although my time with LEGO Dimensions was short, I still had fun. It did seem a bit confusing at times because there were lots of character and vehicle swapping, and it seemed like there could be a lot of characters on the portal at the same time. It was definitely reminiscent of The LEGO Movie thanks to the blend of numerous familiar characters. I imagine that it will be a big hit with kids, and only time will tell if parents will feel they're being gouged by buying various level packs and figures.