Buy LEGO Dimensions
In the year since LEGO Dimensions launched, a lot has happened in the toys-to-life genre. Disney closed down its interactive division and ceased production of Disney Infinity. Activision's Skylanders franchise is still going strong, with the focus being on custom character creation in this year's installment. One big downside to Skylanders is that fact that players need to keep buying a new starter kit each year. One of the big features of LEGO Dimensions is that you can keep using the same game disc and base from last year.
That's right; there is no new "base game" to buy. If you already own LEGO Dimensions, you are ready for all of the Year Two content. All of the updates are provided digitally, so you do need an Internet connection, but other than that, you're good to go. The only real exception to this is the "new" PlayStation 4 Starter Pack, which contains the exclusive Supergirl figure. Aside from this new starter pack, Supergirl has only otherwise been available as a convention-exclusive freebie.
We spoke with Arthur Parsons of TT Games while looking at some of the Year Two content, and he confirmed that TT Games had a three-year plan for the starter kit. Because of digital patching, there is no real need to ship a new game disc every year. Any new features are simply rolled back into the core game. The only downside to this approach is that every single area and level has to be retested to make sure the new features don't break anything.
Since there is no specific "LEGO Dimensions 2," the team is introducing a new type of expansion pack this year. Dubbed Story Packs, these kits are larger than the standard level packs. They will also retail for twice as much ($49.99 versus $24.99). For that, you'll get six levels of gameplay, plus the corresponding LEGO figures and vehicles. You'll also get a new environment background for the starter pack base.
The first of these story packs (in stores this week) is based on the "Ghostbusters" remake from earlier this year. We took a quick look at some of the gameplay with Arthur, and the locations were immediately recognizable. Someone who wandered in and didn't know anything about LEGO Dimensions could have easily mistaken it for a stand-alone game. While the Ecto-1 mini-build looked good, it was the Chinese restaurant background that really stood out in person. Seeing the revamped environment was a nice touch. I'm looking forward to checking out the full story pack and seeing how the build compares to a standard LEGO model.
Also worth noting with the story packs is the fact that each one continues the main storyline of LEGO Dimensions and Lord Vortech. They aren't just stand-alone expansions.
Jumping in and out of various levels, we took a peek at the "Mission Impossible" level pack (based on the first movie with Tom Cruise) and then roamed around the "A-Team" adventure world for a bit, testing out new characters. Sonic looked a little odd as a physical LEGO toy, but in-game, he played and felt just like Sonic should. It was possible to get him up to speed quickly, and when running at full blast, he felt just slightly out of control. That said, Stripe from "Gremlins" was probably my favorite character of the demo session. His in-game persona is suitably creepy (for a family-friendly game), and his model is spot-on. If you grew up in the '80s, the Gremlins pack may end up as a must-buy, even if you don't ever use it with the game.
Two other '80s icons that we got to see but couldn't play were Michael Knight (from "Knight Rider") and Sloth (from "Goonies"). Sloth was so new, Arthur wouldn't let me take pictures of him, but seeing the figure instantly had me wondering what cool things the Goonies pack will have in store for players. That's one pack that really should've been a story pack just for the sheer possibilities of it all.
Last, but not least, are the Battle Arena levels that can be unlocked with all of the Year Two characters. Battle Arenas are four-player competitive battles that are played split-screen. Unlocking an area will only require the corresponding character, but once unlocked, you can hop in with any characters in your collection. For example, if you want to battle it out on the Quidditch field, you're going to need the Harry Potter team pack.
Characters can be switched out on the fly in the Battle Arenas, but it's not instantaneous. When you drop a new character onto the portal, they appear in-game near you. You then have to switch, just as you would in normal gameplay.
After spending an hour with some of the Year Two content, it was clear that we had only scratched the surface, but it also seemed obvious that TT Games is planning on going "all-in" with LEGO Dimensions. The additions look to be more than superficial, and a lot of care has gone into the custom figures that have been made for the game.
Check back early next month for in-depth reviews of some of the Year Two content, including the Ghostbusters story pack.
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