To make your way between the worlds, your minifig travels via a personal rocket ship which you build. There’s nothing special about the rockets themselves other than you receive a bunch of different components to make the rocket something more your own. It’s better than the solutions a lot of other games (Star Trek Online
, for example) have come up with for travelling between different worlds, but it would be nice if you could customize it further. Each rocket is made of only 3 pieces, and you eventually run out of components to choose from.
To make up for relatively unchallenging game play for the most part, there are a significant number of quests and achievements to earn through exploration of the game. Tourist style mounted binoculars and information signs give you something to search for, as do elusive imagination bricks and other hidden items. Completing some of these collections provides the player with unique minfig components that offer additional bonuses.
The biggest draw for adults will clearly be the ability to build your own creations within the game. Each player can claim a private area of land in the game as their own personal space. In that space they can build using individual bricks or model segments whatever it is they can imagine. These bricks and models are given along with play related items as rewards for completed tasks, or as part of destroying Maelstrom infected baddies.
There’s enough space in each players land to build some fairly large items, and I think some older players will spend a significant amount of their time in this mode. As a terrific potential moneymaker, Lego Universe
allows users to order real world kits containing anything they build within their personal area. Plus, players can share their creations with others to use as models to build against in their own area.
If building doesn’t do it for you, there are several mini games to take your mind off the primary game. One of the early combat mini-games is a last man standing style where the focus is on surviving as long as possible against increasing numbers of enemies. And if that isn’t enough for you there are both car and foot races scattered throughout the game. The car races allow you to build and customize your own car, and is deep enough to keep race fans busy for hours.
For a MMO designed to include children as young as 10, I was surprised how open player communication is. Players can friend each other, chat in a local group, or chat directly. Much as user names require approval, I’m guessing specific words in chat will be tightly monitored to reduce the risk of predatory behavior. The social tools are in general solid, if relatively unspectacular.
There are a few areas I’d like to see the developers improve the game; in particular in relation to the model building. It’s very difficult to line the pieces up next to each other in such a way that they look perfect, even with model pieces that are designed to go together, like castle segments. The individual brick building works fairly well but rotating pieces sometimes still doesn’t allow you a strong angle to view the pieces the way I’d like.
Finally, the music in the game is very good, and for each world seems suited to the theme of the world. The only problem I have with it is that frankly, it’s far too melodramatic and tense for a game that doesn’t put a tremendous amount of pressure on the player in most sections of the game. I’m guessing this was done to help cover up for the lack of dialogue, but it’s something that can probably be easily corrected in a later patch.
In the end, there’s a lot to do in Lego Universe
, that will appeal to a wide range of audiences. The primary game play isn’t incredibly demanding, but does get difficult enough that the 10-11 year old age set might need parental assistance with some area. The depth of the mini-games and building mode really shine as the areas that will keep players coming back after the quests and collections are complete. The main load screen shows hundreds of possible worlds, so it seems likely that it’s only a matter of time before other shards come on line for players to explore.
With the few relatively small problems and significant depth to the game, coupled with the potential for quality licensed IP to be added, Lego Universe
is a strong start to and a unique entry into the MMO realm.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
Recommended for Lego fans and families who want parent and children to be able to play a MMO together without either being completely bored. The few foibles in the game are mostly covered up by the quality of the game play, depth of the mini games and building mode, and similarities to the popular Lego series by TT Games.
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