CES 2010: LEGO Universe

by: John -
More On: LEGO Universe CES 2010
LEGO fans are going to go absolutely gaga over LEGO Universe. I mean they are just going to go bananas I think when they get their hands on this. NetDevil, makers of Jumpgate and Auto Assault, was at CES to show off LEGO Universe and they were nice enough to give us a peek of what they have done so far.

LEGO Universe is an MMOG that looks to capitalize on the popularity of both the toy and the video games that have been coming out as of late on the consoles. There’s this threat called the Maelstrom which is threatening the various parts of a blown apart planet in the game. It’s your job to help repel the threat and turn everything back to how it normally was.

So what was shown to us was how you started out and some aspects of the game worlds after you go through the tutorial. The action will be very familiar to those that have played with LEGO Star Wars, LEGO Indiana Jones, LEGO Batman, and so forth. You can do your double jump to get to hard to reach places, swing your arms or weapons to bust things up, and quick build items to help you out.

You’ll need to collect these orbs t hat represent your imagination. Imagination in LEGO Universe is similar to mana in other games so you’ll need to build it up in order to do certain things. Imagination is what you need to use to build things in the world. You know the quick build items in the console LEGO games where the character moves his arms around furiously as it builds a LEGO item? The same is seen in LEGO Universe and imagination is what fuels the character’s ability to do this.

NetDevil really paid a lot of attention to detail in things as common such as the menus. The interface is very friendly and easy to navigate around with some really fun and interesting animations depending on certain actions.

The game also sets forth the control scheme based on what you do initially. Say you’re a WASD type guy. By starting out using those keys, Lego Universe will setup the key bindings to what those types of players are normally used to. The same goes for those who use the arrow keys to start moving around. The game will tailor the controls to whatever type of player it thinks you are based on how you start playing. NetDevil did some focus testing to see what control schemes are familiar to various gamers and, of course, you can adjust it later on if need be.

Because this game is aimed at kids, you can’t die and there will be many hints to help players complete their quests and find new things. There’s also some moderation in there to keep the game family friendly and more details of that will be released in the near future.

Since it’s an MMOG, you’ll be building up your character but not by experience points. Depending on the items you wield will determine what skills you have. Some areas won’t be accessible unless you have a certain skill so you just need to find that item to be able to enter that area. Also, quests can have some requirements such as X number of people in your party but there won’t be anything that’s capped by say a level your character has to be in before you can enter.

Now, because this is a LEGO game, building items with blocks is one of the big features of the game. Your character pops on a hat that lets you start building items. Grabbing LEGO pieces from the menu, you can build up new items for the game world and other players to view. Once you are done, the piece is sent to the server where the item gets optimized in polygons and sent back to you for you to put in the world.

All the pieces are to scale so you won’t find pieces of LEGO that are abnormally larger or smaller than what they are in real life. We’re talking over 80,000 shapes and color combinations that are true to what LEGO offers in real life. NetDevil has a few LEGO employees working closely with them to make sure that all the LEGO rules are followed to a T. It’s great to hear that the LEGO folks have a very large had in crafting this game.

NetDevil’s going to start out with the basic LEGO sets and various genres such as medieval or pirates for now. Depending on how the game goes, there will be opportunities to incorporate other IPs that they’ve worked with into the game but for now, NetDevil wanted to just focus on the core LEGO set and give you that to play with and not overwhelm you with items to try. Let’s be real though, there are a ton of items and parts to play with already so there won’t be a shortage of things to use to build.

Those that have the LEGO skills can really build some really cool stuff with LEGO Universe. From the looks of the game, it looks like it captures the fun and feel of the console version of the various LEGO games while providing an insane amount of customization based on the Lego toys. Build, share, and play with your friends as LEGO Universe is set to bring a very unique MMOG experience when it’s released this year.

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