Wave 7 of the Lego Dimension set brings with it one of the most anticipated packs with the Sonic the Hedgehog level pack and a brand new story pack based on the Harry Potter spin-off, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. What should have been a great wave for the holidays doesn’t live up to the expectations set not only by the Ghostbusters 2016 story pack but also the Adventure Time level pack from wave six.
I haven’t seen the Fantastic Beasts movie myself so I can’t comment on how well the story pack follows the movie.
The LEGO version of the Fantastic Beasts story is not presented well. In fact it was very incoherent and not until the last few levels did it follow any sort of coherent plot. The rush job to get the pack out in time for the movie is clearly visible. One of the biggest problems comes in the voice work which sounds like it was just imported from the movie and added into the game.It’s extremely quiet, very hard to hear a lot of the time, and the actors don’t have any enthusiasm in their performance whatsoever.
As you would expect with LEGO games, smashing everything in sight is still entertaining and main character Newt comes with his own unique abilities to use and some fun puzzles to solve. Although I enjoyed playing the story pack with simply Newt and experiencing his story, some will find the lack of hidden areas that require other characters kind of a turn off. There are areas that require you to use characters from other packs but it’s nowhere near what it was from the Ghostbusters 2016 Story pack.I should note that the Fantastic Beasts Story Pack is also shorter than the Ghostbusters 2016 pack, which again can attribute to getting the pack out in time for the movies release.
A new hub world set in the 1920s is also a treat to explore along with the well designed levels. Exploring for hidden objects is a blast, and I very much enjoyed the magical aspect of the levels. One scene in particular reminded of Disney’s Fantasia, and wrecking a convenience store trying to capture an invisible monkey was quite entertaining; as was spraying my companion with pheromones to capture a mystical Rhinoceros. It was funny to watch, which has become a staple for the LEGO games.
The Sonic level pack should have been the standout content for wave seven but disappointingly fails to live up to expectations. It starts off all well and good with an awesome Sega Genesis/Mega-Drive opening accompanied by the old “SEGA” voice over. I start the level pack running through a 2.5D Green Hill Zone with a remixed version of the levels original soundtrack. It was a blast as I jumped to hear the original Sonic jumping sound. The sense of speed is there too, and even though the camera sometimes couldn’t keep up with it, it was still awesome to see. Sonic even responds the same way, slowing moving up until he gains speed and you see the circular foot animation that accompanied the Hedgehog for years back in the day. I thought this was the return of Sonic that I had been waiting for, but alas my enjoyment was short lived.
After the side-scrolling awesomeness, I run into a roadblock. That roadblock was the return to the 3D and the LEGO formula. After the first level the developers do what Sega has become known to do with 3D Sonic games: They constrict you and take away your speed. The worst part about it is they decide to go through the different Sonic games through the course of the two-hour adventure. There are parts when you are in small hangers solving puzzles and flying a plane to take out Eggman. You even turn into Golden Sonic for a boss fight that serves absolutely no purpose besides the boss fight and something for hardcore Sonic fans to get excited about.
It’s a shame really that once again someone forgot the point of what the character is best at: his speed. Slowing Sonic down also creates problems in the level design and combat. Because Sonic gains speed so fast I found myself falling off ledges all the time and the same thing happened with combat. One of the moves that Sonic has is his patented jump and dash attack which sees him turn into ball in mid-air and propel himself at an enemy. The problem is if you simply double jump he will dash forward right off the side of a level or into some sort of trap.
Level transitions has Sonic running in a half tube collecting rings while trying to avoid mines. I remember this from past Sonic games but can’t quite put my finger on which one did it. These parts are fun as well and become challenging later on. You also get to explore the hub world of the Green Hill Zone but again a lot of its locations just seem small and cramped for someone like Sonic.
The story here is as simple as it gets: Eggman discovers dimensional portals and decides to capture Sonics friends, Rose, Tails, Knuckles, and–for whatever reason–Shadow while jumping through various Sonic game worlds. That’s all there is to the story, but it does come packed with some fun boss battles including one with Metal Sonic.
Voice over work is pretty good in this level pack and the music is pretty great with some tracks remixed from their original. Sound effects are where this pack shines through with Sonics signature ring collecting which counts as Lego pieces this time. There is even a level where Sonic goes back into the labyrinth zone and has to collect bubbles underwater to keep from dying. The panic music even kicks in when you are about to run out of air. The nostalgia of it is great.
With Sonic finally making it into LEGO form I was very hopeful for wave 7 of LEGO Dimensions, but both its Fantastic Beasts story and Sonic the Hedgehog level packs left me disappointed. Sonic just doesn’t fit in with the slow paced collection of LEGO games and Fantastic Beasts story is hard to follow and almost impossible to hear. It’s still LEGO Dimensions, and if you’re looking for more content wave 7 should keep you entertained until wave 8.