Frivolous Waste of Time

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Archive for the tag “xbox 360”

Lego Dimensions: The Lego Batman Movie Story Pack for PS4, PS3, Wii U, Xbox One and Xbox 360

The Lego Dimensions story pack for The Lego Batman Movie is the last currently announced and, fittingly, it’s easily the best. The Ghostbusters 2016 and Fantastic Beasts packs were good, but the transfer from their respective franchises into Lego, at times, felt a bit weird. Lego Batman is, well, already Lego, so the transfer of franchises is essentially seamless, presenting one of my favourite Lego Dimensions experiences yet, and definitely the strongest in Phase 2 since Adventure Time.

Unsurprisingly, this is a fairly straightforward adaption of the movie, which sees a lonely Batman find a family in adopted orphan Robin, Barbara Gordon and even, oddly enough, in his rivalry with The Joker. I liked the movie a lot and the game adapts it well, with a lot of the best gags landing jut as well here. There are a handful of changes to keep things moving at a better pace, but generally this is as faithful a game version of the movie you could ask for.

This is a Lego game, so you know what to expect. In the box you receive a cool Bat-computer template for portal, the Batwing and, pleasantly, two new characters unlike the one in the other packs. Robin is athletic and can squeeze through vents and Batgirl is essentially Batman, but she can use some special computers. Batman himself, using the model from the Starter Pack, can now activate certain detective skills to find clues. It never amounts to much from the usual hit shiny things, build thing, watch thing do its thing and progress, but, for whatever reason it’s something I don’t seem to stop finding fun.

The only Phase 2 Adventure World I’ve liked has been Adventure Time’s, with most simply being dull cities and Sonic the Hedgehogs making me, quite literally, feel physically sick. Gotham is another city, and whilst it has more personality than lots of the others, it still wound up being the least interesting part of the package.
Lego games don’t vary in quality much, but insomuch as this means anything, the Lego Batman Story Pack is one of the better ones.

 

Lego Dimensions: The Simpsons Level Pack for PS4, PS3, Wii U, Xbox One and Xbox 360

Ok, this will be the last Lego Dimensions review for a while, I promise! I skipped out on buying this one as the lack of new voice acting put me off, but I saw it on sale so picked it up anyway. Through excellent animation and the already brilliant vocal performance from the show itself, the lack of new voice acting mattered less than I’d expected, at least in the main level.

The level included in an adaption of the classic episode ‘The Mysterious Voyage of Homer’, which sees Homer eat several powerful chillies, hallucinate a strange desert landscape and seek his soulmate. It’s a great episode, one of the most visually experimental episodes with a heartfelt conclusion which shows Simpsons at its best. Lego Dimensions can’t really claim the credit for how entertaining this is, but it certainly does the episode justice.

The actual level felt a bit on the short side as these things go, but it’s certainly fun enough. The level pack gives you Homer Simpson himself, his iconic pink car and, oddly, the TV set which explodes when removed from the portal. It was a smart choice to adapt this episode, as the trippy chilli induced dream scape offers something more visually interesting than Springfield itself. There’s not much to this pack at all, but it’s certainly a fun curio for any Simpsons fan.

The Adventure World is extensive and fun to explore, but here the lack of new voice acting became a much bigger problem for me. Springfield is only such a great setting because of the characters in it and that element is pretty much missing, aside from a few archival recordings from major characters. Considering how much the Simpsons cast costs these days I understand why this wasn’t possible, but it undeniably lessens the experience.

Still, Springfield and its characters are charmingly rendered in Lego. The lack of music from the show is disappointing too, with a grating theme song ‘sound-a-like’ replacing the main tune. I can’t help but compare it to the vastly superior Adventure Time pack, which had much greater attention to detail to things like music and voice than this one.

It’s not a terrible pack all around, but I’m glad I didn’t pay full price for it. It sits above the Sonic the Hedgehog pack because this one is actually fun to play, but it sits below pretty much every other one I’ve played too.

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Lego Dimensions: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Story Pack for PS4, PS3, Wii U, Xbox One and Xbox 360

This is the second of the more extensive ‘Story Packs’ for Lego Dimensions, after 2016 Ghostbusters reboot. My feelings towards Fantastic Beasts as a movie is very similar to my feelings towards Ghostbusters; somewhere between lukewarm and positive. I’m a big Harry Potter fan but Fantastic Beasts as a movie just didn’t quite land for me; nonetheless, I liked it enough that I was happy to receive this pack as a Christmas present.

Just as with the Ghostbusters pack, this is essentially a straightforward retelling of the story of the movie. There are some funny asides and visual gags from other franchises, but nothing side-splittingly hilarious. The presentation is held back by the use of a lot of archive sound from the movie, with more subdued delivery which made sense in the movie just coming off as weird here. The newer voice acting from some of the cast is much better.

As ever, the Fantastic Beasts story pack doesn’t do anything new in terms of gameplay. The pack gives you Newt Scamander and the Niffler. Newt doesn’t offer anything unique; in fact, he has essentially the same move set as Gandalf from the starter pack and the Niffler simply allows you to use dig spots. Playing through the six story missions will take you a couple of enjoyable hours. The same enjoyably structured if entirely uncreative general unfolding of the environments which makes these games so mindlessly satisfying is in full force here and it is lacking the over-abundance of irritating boss fights which can slightly hamstring these games.

The Adventure World is fine and has some nice missions, but I must say that I’m a bit over New York as an Adventure World setting. It’s definitely more exciting than the Ghostbusters one, but compared to the beauty of the Adventure Time world or the labyrinthine complexity of the Portal 2 world, it ends up coming off a bit bland. I think these worlds are better when they move away from cities; it forces the developers to be a bit more creative. The general look is great and the voice acting solid, with the excellent soundtrack from the movie helping to elevate the experience.

These packs are getting harder and harder review because generally I feel the same about all of them. There are some I’m more enthusiastic about (Adventure Time) and some I’m less (Sonic the Hedgehog), but in general they all operate at the level of decent. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is another decent Lego Dimensions entry and I think that’s all I’m really asking for.

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Lego Dimensions: Sonic the Hedgehog Level Pack for PS4, Ps3, Wii U, Xbox One and Xbox 360

There aren’t many Lego games that you’d be able to call genuinely brilliant, but most operate comfortably at least around ‘good.’ Lego Dimensions has held on to that, with the entire experience operating at the boundary between good and great, which is fine, that’s where the series belongs. There hasn’t been much that I’ve actively disliked, until the Sonic the Hedgehog Level Pack for Lego Dimensions which is a rather miserable experience.

There isn’t much story apart from Sonic and pals fight to take down Eggman who has nefarious plans. That’s ok though and the writing is decent in that snarky self-aware way that recent Sonic games have fallen into. I’d always choose genuinely good writing, but Sonic is such a poisoned brand at this point that self-mockery does feel like the only real option left. Inside the pack you get Sonic himself, a pointless Sonic car and Tails’ plane.

The core story Level is a decent length and takes in a series of classic Sonic locations from a range of games, from Green Hill Zone through to the first level of Sonic Adventure with the whale. I’m no massive Sonic fan; in fact, I picked this up to play with a Sonic obsessed friend of mine (poor bastard) through the local co-op. I’ve played the first one and dabbled with some of the 3D ones from the early 2000s like Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic Heroes, then more recently Sonic Generations, but it’s not a series I consider to be a real classic. A lot of the locations went over my head, but my depraved Sonic chum seemed to enjoy visiting a bunch of classic locations, so good for him I guess.

Somewhat appropriately, the Sonic Lego pack holds essentially the exact same issues as the main series; controlling a character like Sonic at high speed through a 3D environment in unbearable. Mario transitioned to 3D perfectly because it was a game about precision and tight control, but Sonic’s speed just doesn’t translate. This level pack has the same problem, with some fun moments of speed (never as fun as a proper Sonic game mind) hampered by the simple ‘puzzle solving’ that you have in the Lego games. I find these incredibly simple puzzles oddly satisfying normally, but they are an infuriating break of gameplay flow here. I was shocked by how well they were able to transfer over Portal to the Lego format, but they really didn’t manage to pull of Sonic the Hedgehog quite so well.

The Adventure World looks pretty nice but made me feel physically sick. Like, actual motion sick. Now, this was admittedly because of the frame rate drop accompanying co-op play combined with the high speed and open world design but when I returned to the open world in solo play I didn’t like it that much either. The same issues that has always plagued Sonic open worlds are still present here; it’s just not fun or exciting to explore. These Adventure Worlds are rarely great, excepting the Adventure Time one, but this is easily my least favourite so far.

The overall look is good, with the Sonic characters translating over to the Lego form surprisingly well. The music not so much, with Sonic falling into the same problem of The Simpsons when it came to licencing music. You don’t get Green Hill Zone, you get something which sort of sounds like it but isn’t as good. This may sound like a minor thing, but when you’re releasing a product which is, let’s face it, primarily trying to capitalise nostalgia, these details matter.
I’m afraid that Sonic the Hedgehog is easily my least favourite of these so far. They made a good stab at converting Sonic into the Lego formula, but it’s hard to claim that they pulled it off. This one is only for the die-hard Sonic fans, although to be fair my die-hard Sonic fan mate thought even less of it than me, so make of that what you will.

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Minecraft: Story Mode for PS4, PS3, PS Vita, Wii U, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC, OS X, iOS and Android

So…this was a weird one. I have no particular love for the Minecraft brand; I’ve dabbled and I have huge respect for it as a game and learning tool, but it’s just not for me. Telltale’s brand of narrative games are almost as far from the huge freedom of Minecraft that you can get, but I fancied a narrative game to play over 5 episodes and thought what the hell. I bit off a bit more than I could chew because it wasn’t long until the series was extended to 8. Last year I was surprised to find myself enjoying Tales from the Borderlands much more than Game of Thrones despite massively preferring the latter franchise and this year I’ve been surprised to find myself enjoying Minecraft: Story Mode far more than Telltale’s Batman.

Minecraft: Story Mode is split into two distinct arcs across the first and final halves of the season. The protagonist is Jesse, male or female, who alongside his friends and trusty pet/bestie Reuben (a pig) enters a building competition in his home town. It isn’t long before Jesse is pulled into world changing events as maniacal genius Ivor releases a ‘Wither Storm’, a huge creature which grows continuingly, destroying the land. Jesse and his friends set forth to find the Order of the Stone, legendary warriors who slew the Ender Dragon many years earlier for their help in stopping the Wither Storm. The second half sees Jesse and his friends expelled from their world and unable to find their way back, wandering between a series of strange alternate worlds on their quest back home.

Recent Telltale games have struggled with openings and Minecraft: Story Mode is no exception. The tone is oddly dark and portentous; I had been expecting a lighter and breezier affair. The whole Wither Storm arc doesn’t really work; the general aesthetic doesn’t match a bizarre sense of impending doom the game aims for and the characters are too broad to carry this sort of emotional range needed to support this kind of story. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the characters, but most never get beyond that point of likeability into being something more interesting. There’s a general feeling that things just aren’t as funny as they should be. There are some heartfelt moments towards the end of the first arc when I realised I was genuinely invested in what was going on, but it just takes too long to get there. There are some great moments in this first arc, but it is in the second that the potential for this series comes into its own. Seeing Jesse and his friends travelling to a new world each episode opens up the range of scenarios that can be explored and the most interesting moments can be found here. From a murder mystery pastiche in a mansion to a rogue AI to a Hunger Games style tournament, there’s a feeling of looseness and fun in the final four episodes somewhat lacking in the earlier ones. If Telltale choose to do a second season (and I would be surprised if they didn’t) I hope that this is the approach they stick with.

Minecraft: Story Mode is a Telltale game and plays as such. There are some nods towards the normal Minecraft experience; there are crafting tables and you will sometimes have to…y’know, craft things, but this is very limited. You are essentially just arranging the items you will have picked up automatically to advance the game in a particular order. There’s nothing more to it than that. There are hints towards a more full-fledged combat system than the usual QTEs, but it’s not particularly fun and drops off towards the end. If ever there was a time to get out of the comfort zone and open up the experience a bit, it was here, but Telltale played it safe and stuck with the formula. It’s one that worked well, but it’s hard not to feel that diminishing returns are setting in, or perhaps already had set in a while ago.

The blocky look of Minecraft works surprisingly well, particularly in the character models which are much more expressive than you would expect. The voice acting is to a high standard as it has to be for this sort of game. I normally choose female characters in games, but I had to go for the male this time so I could hear Patton Oswalt, who I’m very fond of, as Jesse. He does a great job and the supporting cast do too although I struggle to think of any truly stand out performances. Telltale games are often unforgivably janky, with low framerates and dodgy textures. Minecraft: Story Mode doesn’t really have this problem, probably due to the simpler art style and runs as well as a game like this should. The music was surprisingly good too, with lots of keyboard and synths making action scenes genuinely exciting.

Minecraft: Story Mode does very much feel like Telltale on autopilot but is a decent enough experience despite all that. I enjoyed the hour or so a week I played with my fiancé, an approach which perhaps softens some of the flaws. This is far from the best Telltale game and doesn’t come close to The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us or Tales from the Borderlands, but it’s still likeable enough anyway.

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Lego Dimensions: Ghostbusters 2016 Story Pack for PS4, PS3, Wii U, Xbox One and Xbox 360

Due to me being a SJW libtard feminazi cuck, I actually quite liked the new Ghostbusters movie. It’s no masterpiece, but it had plenty of laughs and I liked that it wasn’t a straight remake of the original, with new characters who didn’t simply feel like analogues for the original cast. In Lego Dimensions, Ghostbusters 2016 as I shall henceforth call it is the first ‘story pack’, a more substantial offering than the level packs, containing six levels along with a new buildable frame for the game portal.

This pack follows the story of the movie pretty closely, but doesn’t really work as a Lego-ified story. Part of the charm of the Lego games is seeing franchises which aren’t comedies, like Star Wars or DC, made silly and goofy when put through the Lego lens. Ghostbusters 2016 is a comedy, it already is silly and goofy, so this story pack ends up mostly feeling like a heavily abridged version of the actual movie, without the unique Lego spin which is so great elsewhere. Still, I liked that the core four Ghostbusters returned to record new dialogue; as with the movie, Kate McKinnon is the highlight. The best moments are where elements from other franchises bleed into the Ghostbusters world, with one particular scene involving giant balloons that I won’t spoil.
The six levels are strong so far as these Lego games go. Since there’s no real challenge in these games, a lot of the charm is following the clear instructions and seeing how everything comes together. It’s an oddly passive and relaxing game experience. People may knock it, but in the moment I can’t deny that I find it very satisfying. In the pack you get Abby from the movie, who predictably has a proton pack useful for busting ghosts as well as the new Ghostbusters van, which functions much like every other car in the game; badly.

The most disappointing element is the adventure world, which is bland, flat and dull. Coming off the awesome Ooo in the Adventure Time pack, the New York of Ghostbusters feels cramped and repetitive. This is the downside of adapting such a recent release, locations such as ‘the university that Kirsten Wiig is fired from’ and ‘that Chinese restaurant they use as a base for a bit’ don’t exactly feel iconic enough to be particularly exciting. The love that was pouring out of the Adventure Time world simply isn’t present here.

The first story pack for Lego Dimensions is certainly decent, with some very strong levels, but doesn’t quite justify its existence. All three story packs are tie in to new films, which makes me a bit nervous as I feel like that is what held back the Ghostbusters pack. Still, there are worse ways to spend a couple of hours than busting your way through this pack.

 

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Lego Dimensions: Doctor Who Level Pack for PS4, PS3, Wii U, Xbox One and Xbox 360

This is the second and possibly final Lego Dimension pack that I can be bothered to get so thankfully it’s a good one. Lego and Doctor Who feel like a natural mix and this has whetted my appetite for a full Lego Doctor Who game somewhere down the line.

As with the Portal pack, there isn’t much story. The Daleks, under the command of Davros, are invading Earth and the Doctor fights to stop them. The story may be lacking, but Capaldi’s more lighthearted turn than usual as the Doctor just about makes up for it.

The Lego pack contains a 12th Doctor figurine, a TARDIS and a K9 robotic dog. Unlike the Portal pack where the figures aren’t actually that fun in practice, the TARDIS and K9 are pretty fun to use. K9 works like a vehicle, which is fun to zip around in and blast people in an extremely un-Doctor like manner. The TARDIS is a flying vehicle and floating around is quite fun, particularly in the open Adventure Worlds. During the level you can travel through time, which is fun with some very simple puzzles. There’s also a hacking minigame which involves hopping around a little maze, which is enjoyable enough. The short level is a lot of fun, but it’s the Adventure World which is the stronger element of the pack.

The Adventure World covers several different areas and times which you can mash together, namely 21st Century and 19th Century versions of London, Mars, Telos, Skaro and Trenzalore. The variety of scenery allows a a wide range of Doctor Who fan service, with voice acted appearances from characters like Missy, Madame Vastra and Captain Jack Harkness. I’m not convinced that I’m thrilled that John Barrowman’s first appearance in Doctor Who in over five years is in a Lego game, but I guess I’ll take it. Overall though, it’s less impressive than the Portal 2 world. A big issue is the quality of missions, with about three involving fighting off thirty enemies. Considering that combat is comfortably the worst thing about the Lego games, fighting a total of ninety enemies isn’t particularly edifying.

There are some lovely touches, with the best being the appearances of all 12 Doctors, plus the John Hurt War Doctor. When you die in the Adventure World you regenerate into the next Doctor, starting with William Hartnell and winding back to Peter Capaldi. The voice acting is provided from archive footage, but each Doctor is brimming with their unique personality, moving and fighting in ways true to their characters. They even all have their own TARDIS from their time, including the ridiculously elaborate Paul McGann TARDIS from the TV movie. As a final lovely touch, when piloting the TARDIS whatever version of the theme tune was around during their run plays. The actual content of this pack isn’t amazing, but the attention to detail and clear love of the source material really elevates the experience.

Although not quite as good as the Portal 2 pack, Doctor Who wins in the sheer fan service department. I have no problem being bent over a table and fan serviced as long as I know what’s happening, so I’ll take it.

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Lego Dimensions: Portal 2 Level Pack for PS4, PS3, Wii U, Xbox One and Xbox 360

I don’t really understand why Traveller’s Tales put Portal inside Lego Dimensions. It doesn’t really gel with the target audience and there’s no history of connection between the franchises. Miraculously, it works incredibly well.

The Portal level positions itself as a sort of sequel to Portal 2, with Chell returning to Aperture Science for another round against GLaDOS, with a very contrite Wheatley along for the ride. There’s really not much actual story, but the writing is just as good as in the main games. GLaDOS, Wheatley and Cave Johnson all get some great lines with the general tone of Portal converting surprisingly well over to Lego form. The voice acting and general design of the Portal 2 Level Pack are really what sets it apart.

In this pack you get a minifigure Chell, a Lego Companion Cube and a Turret. This pack plays quite differently to anything in the Starter Pack, being entirely puzzle based with no combat. Chell is armed with a Portal gun meaning that you are completing very simplified Portal puzzles, with the gels from Portal 2 thrown in for good measure. The Companion Cube isn’t very interesting, just being there for putting on switches and the turret works like a vehicle. Neither objects are used especially well, but the simple puzzling was enough. None of it was difficult, but it does require a level of thought that you never need in the main game.

When you complete the roughly hour long mission included you’re thrown into the open Adventure world. It’s more vertically oriented than those in the Starter pack, covering the old Aperture at the bottom working all the way up to the surface at the top. It is significantly more enjoyable to explore than the Adventure Worlds included in the Starter Pack and much more can be achieved just by Chell and her Portal gun. There are still things I couldn’t do without characters I don’t have, but I was able to do all the fun stuff.
I’m not convinced that the venn diagram convergence between Lego and Portal fans is particularly big, but if you are there this one is a no brainer. Hell, it’s probably the closest we’ll ever get to a Portal 3!

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Lego Dimensions for PS4, PS3, Wii U, Xbox One and Xbox 360

Enjoyment of the Lego games generally seems driven by how much you like the franchise in question. The actual mechanics are so simple that it’s the trapping of the series which provides the real entertainment value and so in that regard Lego Dimensions is possibly the most entertaining Lego game ever. It’s also the most expensive. During the story of Lego Dimensions you’ll encounter the worlds and characters of DC Comics, Lord of the Rings, The Lego Movie, The Simpsons, The Wizard of Oz, Scooby Doo, Ghostbusters, Back to the Future, Doctor Who and, strangest of all, Portal.

Lego Dimensions is a mash up of over a dozen different franchises in a simplistic but enjoyable storyline. The evil Gary Oldman voiced Lord Vortech seeks to combine all dimensions into one under his control and part of his plan sees the kidnapping of Robin, Frodo Baggins and Metalbeard from their respective DC, Lord of the Rings and Lego Movie dimensions. Batman, Gandalf and Wyldstyle leap into action to rescue their friends and protect the multiverse from Vortech’s machinations.

It’s kind of impossible to work out whether the writing for Lego Dimensions is actually good or if the fan service-y crossover stuff is making me so gloriously happy that I’ve lost my critical faculties. At the beginning each level is fairly self contained; for example, the first level is set in Oz and is played relatively straight, although with the obvious twist that the Wicked Witch of the West is encountering Batman. As the game goes on things begin to cross over and merge to a greater extent with a glorious sense of unpredictability. Lego Dimensions makes brilliant use of most of its properties, particularly DC, Doctor Who and Portal which come out best of all. There are dozens of gloriously funny and charming moments, but I won’t mention any of them because they’re frankly the main thing that makes this game worth playing.

The first thing you’re asked to do when you boot up Lego Dimensions is to build the ‘portal’ out of real life Lego. The toys-to-life experience is fundamentally an illusion; you’re buying physical DLC which unlocks things on disk. Lego Dimensions does a pretty fantastic job of masking this, making the actual construction of the component parts immerse you into the experience and boost the illusion of the toys coming to life inside your TV. The Dimensional Portal and Lego builds look amazing, with the portal itself being a wonder. It’s split into three parts and can hold up to seven different builds, with the three parts being able to light up independently. This functionality is actually integral to the gameplay, which I’ll come to later.

The core mechanics of Lego Dimensions are pretty much the same as they were back in the original Lego Star Wars. If that’s a deal breaker you may as well stop right here and I wouldn’t necessarily blame you. They’re solid, but unspectacular with simple puzzles. That said, I do find a certain satisfaction in putting all the pieces into place and watching things unfold. I would compare the feeling of playing these games to following Lego kit instructions. Sure, using the blocks to create something unique is more pure, but there is an undeniable satisfaction in following the instructions and watching things come together. In some ways Lego Dimensions is more limited than the regular games as there are only three characters in the starter pack, with all other characters only available by purchasing the minifigures. This means that the variety of a game like Lego Marvel Super Heroes is missing as we only ever get to use Batman, Gandalf and Wyldstyle’s abilities. The biggest flaw lies in the vehicle controls; the starter pack comes with the Batmobile and it plays horribly, meaning that I only used it when the game demanded it of me.

The most interesting new mechanic lies in the nifty use of the portal itself. Throughout the game you gain five different portal abilities and the interplay between them can get quite complicated, at least by Lego game standards. The first sees a series of blue, yellow and pink coloured wormholes open up on the screen. On the physical portal in front of you, the three sections light up in those colours and you teleport the characters around the screen by physically moving their minifigure onto the necessary colour. There are loads of other nifty applications which I won’t get into so you can discover them yourself. Once again, your enjoyment of this comes from your ability to suspend your disbelief and immerse yourself in the illusion. The fun you’re experiencing is literally just moving a Lego minifigure from one space to another, which doesn’t sound fun. In practice though, it really is and I massively appreciate that Lego didn’t go the lazy route and mindlessly imitate Skylanders or Disney Infinity.

The main story of Lego Dimensions is actually pretty lengthy by the standards of the series, with the franchise hopping creating a natural sense of variety as you go through. A lot of the value comes from the ‘adventure worlds’ which are accessed separately from the main campaign. These are small open worlds set within each franchise, where you can gather collectibles, rebuild the world using studs and complete missions. You access these by placing a character from that franchise on the Dimensional Portal, so with the Starter Pack you have access to the DC, Lord of the Rings and Lego Movie worlds. These are simple but fun little additions, although exploring them is a bit frustrating as over half of each world’s puzzles require characters I don’t own and never intend to own. It would have been nice if each adventure world was self contained for powers from the characters from that franchise as ultimately I was only able to scratch the surface. Although I’ll review it separately, at time I writing I have played the Portal Expansion and found this to be less of a problem here, so maybe this is primarily an issue with the Starter Pack.

I don’t really know how Lego were able to acquire all of these rights, with voice actors and music intact, but they did. The fact that it’s actually Peter Capaldi playing the Doctor, or Christopher Lloyd as Emmet Brown or Elizabeth Banks as Wyldstyle really helps to build the epic crossover feel that this game is going for. For me though, the Portal cast steal the show, with Ellen McClain and Stephen Merchant back on fine form as GLaDOS and Wheatley. I forgot how much I love these characters and Lego Dimensions captures them perfectly. The use of franchise music is good too, from the lovely Lord of the Rings Shire tune to Ray Parker Jr’s Ghostbusters to the iconic Back to the Future theme when the DeLorean shows up. It’s all capped of with a new Jonathan Coulton GLaDOS song. The only franchise that really let me down was The Simpsons, which had no new voice recordings or even the rights to the theme music. I love The Simpsons and this was pretty disappointing; there’s pretty much zero chance I’ll ever buy any of The Simpson’s expansions now.

The question of Lego Dimensions is one of value. Can I confidently claim that there is £70 worth of game here? I’m not so sure; I got this game as a very generous Christmas present so I’m not sure how I’d feel if I’d plonked down that much money myself for this experience. All I can say is that I had a lovely time with it. At present, I only plan on playing the Portal and Doctor Who expansions, although I may go for Ghostbusters too if reviews are good.

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Game of Thrones for PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC, OS X, iOS and Android

I can’t describe how excited I was for this game. I love Telltale and I love A Song of Ice and Fire, so this seemed a match made in heaven. The reality hasn’t quite lived up expectations, with Game of Thrones having been overshadowed month after month by the vastly superior Tales from the Borderlands. There are some great moments, but fundamentally the Telltale Game of Thrones takes the flaws of the show and blows them up hugely, whilst doing the same with the Telltale games.

Game of Thrones takes place between Season 3 and 4 of the TV show and picks up in the midst of the Red Wedding. Lord Gregor Forrester is killed and survived by his squire Gared Tuttle. The Forresters are a minor Northern house of Stark Bannermen, important primarily for their large forest of Ironwood, a material very useful for the creation of weapons and armor. For years, the Forresters have feuded with the neighbouring Whitehills, but this conflict was kept in check by strong Stark leadership. With the Starks destroyed following the betrayal at the Twins, the Boltons have raised to ascendancy in the North and rule with none of the diplomacy and honour which defined Eddard Stark.

Game of Thrones follows several characters, as with the books and show. The first is Ethan Forrester, the new young lord of the house in their home of Ironrath who must contend with the increasing arrogance of the Whitehills as well as the unpredictable wiles of the newly legitimised Ramsay Bolton. Next is Mira, a handmaiden to Margaery Tyrell who seeks to use her position in King’s Landing to support the fortunes of her house. Gared Tuttle was Lord Gregor’s ward, who follows his master’s dying words to ‘Protect the North Grove’, a mysterious location which sees Gared sent to the Wall and beyond. Finally there is Asher, who was banished across the Narrow Sea several years before and is now working as a mercenary. When he hears of the danger befalling his family, he seeks the help of Daenerys Targaryen, positioned outside Meereen, to sail back to Westeros to save his family.

There are some truly outstanding moments in Game of Thrones, particularly in the first few episodes. There are scenes which are as visceral, shocking and upsetting as the moments the show is known for, but some begin to feel contrived as we move on. One of the biggest problems with setting this game during the show’s timeline is that everything could feel irrelevant, like a sideshow to the main event. Cameos from the shows cast actually make this much worse; it’s difficult to accept that Tyrion and Cersei Lannister were chatting away to a minor Northern handmaiden in the days following the death of Joffrey, or that Jon Snow was gabbing away with a young squire before heading to Craster’s Keep. The only show character used well is Ramsay Bolton, due to him being such a wildcard that every moment he is on screen feeling like its about to descend into chaos. The Forresters are clearly meant as analogues for the Starks, particularly Mira as Sansa. This makes them fail to come alive as characters in their own right, with the notable exception being Asher, whose hot headed arrogance sets him apart from any of the other major Stark characters.

From a gameplay point of view its business as usual, although there are some thrilling combat encounters towards the beginning, which begin to shrink and get less interactive as the series trundled on. The glacial release pace didn’t help matters, with an unacceptable four month gap between the penultimate and final episodes. In that time Telltale somehow managed to get out two Minecraft: Story Mode episodes, which suggests to me that they got greedy. The biggest issue is the utter failure of the illusion of choice; the lack of meaningful choice in Telltale games has been known for a while, but it feels far more naked and exploitative here than it did in games like Tales from the Borderlands or The Wolf Among Us. The need to set up the announced second season means that this Game of Thrones lacks any sort of satisfying resolution. The only Telltale game with two seasons so far (I’m not counting Sam and Max) is The Walking Dead, but the ending of season one was a genuine conclusion, just with the door left open for a sequel. Tales from the Borderlands is in a similar position, but Game of Thrones leaves a sour taste in the mouth.

Game of Thrones does look nice; the handpainted art style has been a bit controversial with some, but overall I like it. Take into account that every other Telltale adaptation has been from a graphic novel or stylised videogame and the art style of Game of Thrones seems like a reasonable compromise. The voice acting is good, although there aren’t necessarily any stand out performances. The music is a pleasant surprise, with a distinct theme for the Forresters being a recognisable musical motif which recurs throughout the story. Nothing can beat when the Game of Thrones TV theme kicks in though.

Telltale’s Game of Thrones isn’t a disaster and, based on what I’ve played so far, seems to be stronger than Minecraft: Story Mode, but it is the first time I’ve felt the Telltale fatigue kick in. Tales from the Borderlands was so good that it can’t help but reflect poorly upon Game of Thrones; hopefully the second season is an improvement, with some characters left in some interesting places, but my hopes aren’t particularly high.

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