Wot I Think: Lego Universe

By John Walker on November 2nd, 2010 at 5:41 pm.

A bright new world. Albeit a very small one.

I’ve spent rather a lot of time of late in the lands of Lego Universe, the kid-friendly MMO from Auto Assault creators, NetDevil. It’s been out for a couple of weeks now, so how does the brick-built world fare? Read on to find out Wot I Think.

The very cutest moment in Lego Universe occurs before you’ve even logged in. At the menu screen you’re asked, by a friendly Lego man, to insert a username and password. As you start to type in the password field the Lego guy covers his eyes. It’s utterly adorable. It’s demonstrative of the breezy, sweet attitude that permeates throughout. It also seems like the same posture everyone involved in balancing the game must have adopted.

This really is the most peculiar thing. Apparently designed for a family audience, it’s a combination of cute, light-hearted challenges, and some brain-numbing grinding that I cannot imagine any child, nor indeed adult, feeling thrilled about pursuing. It’s the joy of watching your little figure manically building bridges out of Lego, and the disappointment of realising you have to trudge across the entire width of the game yet again at the character’s snail pace. It’s colourful and friendly, but ridden with bugs and irritations.

It’s also a very, very small MMO. At this point, in the first few weeks of launch, there are only four small-ish locations to explore, along with a few teeny-tiny extra areas. They’re all densely packed with missions, over 40 in a couple of zones, along with a kerbillion collectables, 18 pets to tame, and a few minigames to compete in. If it were a single-player RPG, it would be a decent length, and perhaps worth a one-off payment. But as an MMO, with a monthly subscription, it feels like just when you’ve gotten established, you run out of things to do.

So the lands of Lego are in a spot of trouble. Something called the Maelstrom is causing Lego creatures, and the bricks themselves, to become corrupted. The central story is your attempt to fight back against this evil, all players on the side of good.

What you do involves a lot of smashing bricks, which is clearly a good thing. Combat is extremely simple – you generally have one attack, on the left mouse button, and you hit stuff. Bonus abilities, linked to equipped items, are fired off with a number key, but unless you’re sneaking ahead of your skills aren’t really crucial. When things are hit they explode into their constituent Lego blocks, and that’s always a satisfying sight. Much as it’s a satisfying sight in Lego Star Wars, and any number of that series. However, what you don’t have here is the excellent plaforming to surround it. (You do, however, have a double-jump, which wins it a lot of points.)

It’s not fair to say that it follows the traditions of MMOs. There’s an awful lot more arcade gaming going on here. But you’re still trudging about, completing chains of quests, driven only by the desire to get the better equipment in order to survive in the more dangerous areas.

To do almost anything in the game you need Imagination. This exists in the form of blue orbs that are generated by hitting most things. So smash a park bench, a rock, or a baddy, and you’ll gather a few. These are then used for building things out of Lego piles you find, or taming pets, or using rockets, or getting pets out of your inventory, or… anything, really. For no discernable reason. And early on, when the game only gives you a maximum of 3, it’s infuriating. I’m up to 20 now, and it’s still a pain in the arse. Can’t I just, you know, do stuff?

There are no levels here at all, and no stats for your character. Instead it’s all about the items you’re equipped with. The only equivalent to levels are the limitations of which faction items you can use, and these are unlocked not by XP but rather by collected tokens. Which I’ll now explain.

In one of the most spectacularly awful decisions I’ve seen an MMO make, in order to purchase the specialist clothes and weapons you’ll need, you are forced to gather faction tokens. About a third of the way through the existing content your character can choose to follow one of the game’s four factions. The Sentinels are warriors, charged with protecting the mini-figures of the Lego universe. The Assembly are engineers, who can build mechanisms and creatures to aid them. The Venture League are pirates and daredevils, who progress through puzzle solving and discovery. And Paradox are those who take the “darker path”, using the evil of the Maelstrom against it, “tapping into darkness.”

What difference this makes is a little unclear. I picked Venture League, despite the obvious appeal of Paradox, because I fancied seeing what puzzles it would offer. I can’t remember encountering any at all. But it does allow you access to one of the four faction shops in the main hub world, Nimbus Station. Here you can buy items specific to your class, with bonuses for getting complete sets. But to get these you not only need thousands of the in-game currency (not generally a huge problem, coins are exploding all over the place), but also faction tokens. And not just a few. To get any Rank 2 item you’ll need 80 for each. So to get the four you need for a complete set, with the guns costing twice as many, that’s 400 tokens. The most any enemy will drop is 2. So you can enjoy the maths of that for yourself.

Don’t get all four items and you may as well stick with the Rank 1 stuff, as the loss of bonus for a complete set is too punishing. Worse, those enemies that drop tokens are able to kill you in one hit. There’s techniques you can use to avoid their attacks, but sadly the game’s glitchy combat will frequently make that impossible. For mystifying reasons your character will auto-target, and it’s rarely on the thing you’re facing. Which means rather than hitting the evil pirate you’re fighting, you’ll instead rotate 90 degrees to punch the deadly exploding chest, killing yourself. Great.

Um, right, great.

Fortunately death is a very minor event in Lego Universe. You regenerate a few steps from where you fell, and the coins you drop in death are quickly gathered back up. This doesn’t making it any less frustrating, however, when you’re farming for tokens and getting mobbed by literally ten one-hit-kill enemies at once. The mobbing is horrendous, baddies charging from the other side of areas if they see you on your own. (See the pic above.)

And in the couple of weeks I’ve been playing, either side of the official launch, I’ve spent an awful lot of time on my own. It’s a very, very empty world. Saturday afternoons have been the only time I’ve found it noticeably populated, the rest of the time, even weekday evenings, I can trudge huge distances without running into another player.

That’s not an enormous issue for much of the game. You can single-player your way through most of the content, but for a few of the larger challenges toward the end of what’s in there at the moment. I’ve yet to figure out how to taken down a dragon on my own, for instance. But this is certainly an enormous issue when it comes to the racing games.

There are a couple of tracks – not an impressive number – on which you can race up to six other players. But in all the time I’ve played I’ve only twice managed to find a race with three. Otherwise I’ve had to race against one other, or give up and wander off to do something else. And rather ingeniously, the game does not recognise a two-player race as counting toward any of the race-related quests. “Now win a race!” I was told, having won about six already. But no, when I reported the bug that my subsequent wins against another player weren’t being recorded, I was informed that I needed to beat at least two others. Which wasn’t really possible. The racing is pretty crappy, as it happens, with some dreadfully clunky handling.

The pets are one of the nicest ideas, but horribly executed. Around each area you’ll find tameable animals in groups, which can be added to your inventory if you can complete a challenge. As long as you’ve got enough Imagination to start it, of course. You’ll see a rotating Lego construction, and you have to pick three to six blocks from a selection on the right that are parts of it. But this is idiotically obscure, forcing you to guess wildly on many of them. Succeed and the pet is yours, and will trot alongside you, and let you use certain launch pads that require a pet to press the button.

The trouble is, their AI is non-existent, mostly spinning on the spot rather than going anywhere you need them, popping in and out of existence, and then randomly vanishing away completely. They’re buggy beyond belief, and mostly infuriating.

Almost as useless as the real version.

What’s great, however, is the collecting. Every area is littered with things to find, encouraging exploration and the obvious satisfaction that comes with ticking off the attached achievements. Often these are cunningly hidden, or put seemingly out of reach, and here you can enjoy solving those challenges. Here there’s a decent amount of potential fun, double-jumping your way about, scooping up bonuses.

But for a game that’s supposed to be friendly to children, the interface is a jumbled mess. The inventories especially are just inaccessible clutter. There’s four pages to it, Items, Models, Bricks and Behaviours. The first is your weapons, armour, bonus items, clothes and tokens, and has limited space. The second contains all the various modelling pieces you may have for building Lego homes (more on that in a bit), along with your pets, rockets you’ve built for travelling between areas, and cars you’ve built for racing. It has infinite space, and jumbles everything together, with no useful means of separating your pets from your walls from your rockets. It’s awful. The Bricks tab contains the literally thousands of Lego blocks and pieces you gather as you play, which can be filtered, but in a bewildering fashion. And finally, the behaviours are so few that they don’t cause as much trouble.

MMO basics are missing, such as being able to easily compare your current weapon to a potential new one, and the information screen about your character is so massively complicated that I think it would require a team of scientists to decipher. This is mostly, but not necessarily only, achievements, which represent one of the many, many collectibles the game tries to busy you with.

The other way to keep you busy is the Lego brick building. Each area has a rocket site that takes you to a space where (once cleared of Maelstrom enemies) you can build from the bits and bobs you’ve collected.

These take the form of models – larger complete sections, such as a wall with a window, a doorway, or castle turrets, pirate ship sections, etc. And there’s the option to build with the pure Lego bricks that you gather in vast numbers throughout. These are given to you randomly, so getting useful things like a six-by-two brick is a rare treat. However, you can buy them directly from Brick Vendors around the place.

To build with the models your little Lego guy lugs them about, and you walk them into place. However, for the bricks it’s a floating camera. And it’s just horrible to use. Trying to line bricks up, then wrestling with the awful muddle of multiple controls to remember how to rotate, then to change the colour of, etc, for every single brick becomes agony. After struggling with it for a while I threw up my arms and shouted, “I COULD JUST PLAY WITH SOME LEGO!”

If you’re more patient and willing to persist, you can do some impressive stuff. The Behaviours let you tell the models how to behave in response to a player. So a door can swing open, or a tower of bricks can explode then rebuild, and so on. Making your area public you can let others come explore and experience your creations. If they came to mine they’d find two walls of a house surrounded by some chunks of castle, a strange piece of “art”, and a shark wiggling about on its belly. It’s quite a place.

The trouble is, that’s no end-game. It’s a fraction of the fun of playing with real Lego, and the bemusing inventories and icons make it so much hassle.

There’s obvious room for the game to expand. Various areas refuse to let you in at the moment, and there’s always the possibility of simply adding more floating worlds to fly to. But to launch with such a miniature world seems a huge mistake. It’s hard to imagine how anyone couldn’t finish off all the content in the 30 days of subscription that comes with a purchase. And more likely in four or five. Why you’d pay for a subscription at this point I can’t imagine.

But it is tremendously cute, and a huge amount of effort has gone in to making sure kids are protected. It restricts the words you can use, both in describing your constructions and during chat, to those that appear in its allowed dictionary. Names you give your pets are checked before they’re public, and your creations you make public are vetted by humans before they’re open to other players. Sorry – no willy towers.

There’s no doubt this is a safe MMO world to let kids into. And fears of over-playing will be quickly quelled when they rapidly run out of content. But I think it far more frustrating that they, much as I, keep hitting the game’s tiresome walls. By the time my missions were telling me to visit the last world, the Forbidden Valley, I was nowhere near equipped for the enemies, forcing me into spending many hours harvesting tokens in a frustrating, boring grind. And now, once again, I find myself unable to progress because I’m not a part of a larger team to take out a dragon. But I’ve been everywhere multiple times, and see what it has to offer.

Which is a bright, vibrant world, amusing and cute, with a very deep understanding of the fun and mythos of Lego. Unfortunately it’s also a buggy, poorly fronted experience, and one that’s far too brief for an MMO. It’s more Lego Village than Universe.

If NetDevil start adding considerable new content to the world, and I’m talking about doubling what’s currently there at least, then I can see this taking off. Hopefully updates will sort out the awful inventory and confusing menus for brick building, and fix the utterly broken pet AI. And the damned mobbing. As it is, I can’t see how it will be worth anyone’s ongoing subscription.

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76 Comments »

  1. Bobsy says:

    I stopped with the beta pretty smartish when it became clear that the game was not going to let you build useful creations that you could then bring out and use in the world. The inability to make a working vehicle is a pretty massive oversight.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Since I’m fairly sure that there have been Lego games that let you do exactly that, I’m surprised they didn’t have that at all.

    • LionsPhil says:

      The best way to do that would be to let you put down motor blocks from Lego Technic and bind them to keys.

      You just know someone would build a truck with a semi-automatic gearbox. And it would be awesome.

    • H says:

      Exactly, what a Lego MMO needs to be is a cute Garry’s Mod.

  2. We Fly Spitfires says:

    Harsh words but no doubt entirely accurate. Why do so many MMOs launch when they just aren’t in a fit state? I don’t think I’m going to check Lego Universe out…

    • Axez D. Nyde says:

      Exactly! This game could have been a place to show off your imaginative creations. Would have been a boost for the Lego creation software that is out there if there are lots of people to show your stuff to. But yeah, now it’s just a WoW for kids.

  3. Rob Zacny says:

    I left off at the dragon as well. Another problem with that quest is that there is nothing in Lego Universe to condition players to working together and thinking tactically. The quest suddenly requires some MMO teamwork and coordination, but to this point everyone has just been running around smashing things at random. So even with a group of people, the dragon quest is hard because there are no group dynamics. That would seem to pose a problem if they are going to be adding more quests like that, which they desperately need to do to make the game more interesting.

  4. ScubaMonster says:

    Monthly fee for a Lego game? I thought for sure this would be free to play. Count me not interested.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      If it was “free” to play but charged you for Lego peices at an item shop, that’d be a deal-breaker for me personally. Subs keep Marketing from destroying the internal balance of an MMO with item shops.

  5. Xercies says:

    sorry to be nick picky…i really hate doing it but this sentence:

    “but unless you’re sneaking ahead of your skills aren’t really crucial”

    Doesn’t make any sense.

    • Rich says:

      If you were genuinely sorry, and hated doing it, you wouldn’t.

    • Bob Bobson says:

      If you hate (a) and hate (b) more you are justified in choosing to do (a) while claiming to hate it. I dislike taking my medicine, I dislike not having had my medicine more. Thus I take my medicine, but I let everyone in earshot know I don’t like it. This is, of course, very immature of me.

    • Lilliput King says:

      That’s not a sentence. That’s a phrase at best.

      This is the sentence: Bonus abilities, linked to equipped items, are fired off with a number key, but unless you’re sneaking ahead of your skills aren’t really crucial.

      Actually that does look a bit awkward.

    • jarvoll says:

      The subject of “aren’t” is “bonus abilities”. You might try imagining a comma after “skills” to improve your comprehension.

    • Urael says:

      Yeah, I hate this internet thing of “Sorry, but….”. Apologising for being a jerk doesn’t make anyone hate you any less; you’re still a jerk, but now it sounds like you can’t be proud of your own statements.

      Oh, and don’t get me started on “I hate to be THAT guy…”.

    • MWoody says:

      “Nick Picky”

      ?

      …unless your name is indeed Nick, in which case this is rather clever.

    • Amadeus says:

      Ha! Eggcorn! But the poster is right. This is one of several errors in the (excellent and insightful) article.

    • MrEvilGuy says:

      I simply assumed he missed out on a word.
      I thought he probably wanted to write something like “but unless you’re sneaking ahead of your skill-level, your skills aren’t really crucial”.

    • Xercies says:

      @MWoody

      My name is not Nick but I was thinking of Nick Mailer at the time who corrects john’s grammar in there podcast…

      I bet he did miss a word or two…I’m guessing he just means “If you sneak ahead of the monsters/players”

      Anyway I’m never usually THAT guy…in fact i hate grammar nazis and the rest so I thought it was ironic that i am the one questioning it…

    • Noviz says:

      If you’re going to be pickey then atleast use the correct words!
      There -> Their lol :D

    • Noviz says:

      And ironically I spelt ‘picky’ incorrectly.

  6. Rich says:

    Once we have proper multi-player Minecraft, isn’t this game going to be somewhat obsolete?

  7. JonFitt says:

    I get all of the building fun I used to get from Lego, from Minecraft.

    Also when I played with Lego, I don’t recall any weapons. The closest thing was using a transparent antenna as a lightsaber, and perhaps a torch as a blaster.
    It just strikes me that forcing Lego into the MMO mould of kill monsters grind loot, doesn’t really fit with what Lego means to me.

    • sidereal says:

      when I played with Lego, I don’t recall any weapons

      That’s great, but you’re obviously not in the target audience since you haven’t played with Lego in at least 15 years. My kid has one of his big plastic lego boxes dedicated just to weapons (okay, and helmets and other bits. but mostly weapons).

      Also, this.

      Lego hasn’t been just 2×3 bricks and wheels for a couple of decades.

    • jonfitt says:

      It seems that the traditional stuff is still popular. Bar some Harry Potter stuff which is a fairly mild aberration.
      http://shop.lego.com/TopSellers/

    • Malagate says:

      @Jonfitt, what kind of Lego have you been playing with? I remember playing with Lego 20 years ago and there was a Robin Hood set which did indeed have swords, shields, lances and bows, as well as the old pirate set which had cannons, pistols and cutlasses.

      So it’s not just as sidereal mentions, either you were just provided with the city sets and your parents somehow kept away from you all the little booklets that showed the whole lego range, were never taken to a toy shop, come from an era or place that somehow doesn’t do lego violence OR just somehow didn’t pay attention to any other lego set/forgot about it. I’m willing to bet you forgot about it, because there were definately weapons in lego more than 20 years ago.

  8. utharda says:

    honestly couldn’t get past the tutorial. and I have 6 year old twins as motivation… the camera and game play were just that… bleh.

  9. Flakfizer says:

    I was in the Beta for this and as a long time Lego fan i had a lot of fun ’till the grind bored me.

    I just assumed it would be free to play and was stunned to find they would be charging a subscription.

    • Chris says:

      I knew they were going to be charging a subscription fee…it was the $40 initial price tag they wanted that made me jaw-drop. About the only thing I can still think of is that NetDevil knows this is going to fail as badly as Auto Assault did, and want people to pay up-front because they won’t *bother* to stick around past the first 30 days. :-/

  10. Koozer says:

    LEGO Island and LEGO Creator are much better experiences, and cheaper too. These two games were the only things that would get me up for primary school in the morning. I was still late due to the flying picnic tables and exploding trucks mind…

  11. Azzurus says:

    I definetely feel as though the monthly fee to a MMO targeted at kids crippled Lego Universe out of the gate. You mentioned barely seeing anyone else online, and I can only think it has to be the fees.

  12. Shadram says:

    I played the beta for a while, and managed to complete most of the content in a weekend. And yeah, the forced grouping so far into the game is a pain, especially with so few players getting that far at the moment. People seemed to be happier just running around smashing stuff and collecting pets which, to be fair, is the most fun part. I really enjoyed exploring and trying to grab all the gold bricks and other secrets on each level, but with only the 4 main worlds, this didn’t take too long.

    So yeah, fun game with quite a few problems, and certainly not deserving of a monthly fee. I also experienced a lot of lag issues, but that may be more to do with me being in New Zealand than their servers being bad.

  13. Jezebeau says:

    I decided not to bother with the grind. Despite the game telling you that you shouldn’t go to Forbidden Valley without rank 2 gear, I tossed myself in there, got huge non-set gear upgrades that worked just fine, finished all the non-grinding content in 20 hours, and still don’t have enough tokens for more than one piece of rank 2 gear. If they don’t have more content out in the next three weeks they won’t see a dime above the box price from me.

  14. Kid A says:

    Red bricks are OP.

  15. Fitt3 says:

    Bah, just what I feared. Limited, poorly thought-out, poorly executed, castrated, self-censoring kiddie-nonsense with few players.

  16. Tei says:

    I must start a company about building SAND. Then I could make a theme park MMO like this one called SANDBOX, as a wow clone.

    /irony

    • Mr Ak says:

      Why not make one where you have to fight that evil French novelist, George Sand?

  17. Amanda says:

    Played it on pre-release weekend (bought it in the Lego shop) and completed it over the course of 3 days. Found the complete lack of an ability to group with others to do normal quests utterly baffling – even Toontown had grouping!

  18. Devan says:

    ‘After struggling with it for a while I threw up my arms and shouted, “I COULD JUST PLAY WITH SOME LEGO!”’

    Hmm, maybe that’s the whole strategy. NetDevil may lose out if this game dies out, but Lego might win either way.

  19. OJ287 says:

    I didn’t expect to see a Brick reference in a Lego game.

    • Shadram says:

      Yes, Anchorman quotes in a game for 10 year olds do seem a little out of place. Made me giggle, though.

  20. Anthony says:

    That was totally not the kind of thing I expected for a Lego MMO. I’m sort of sad they’ve just taken a WoW template and replaced everything with Lego blocks.

    As per other comments, I think I’ll just wait for Notch to fix SMP.

  21. Clovis says:

    “To do almost anything in the game you need Imagination.”

    Oh wow! Sounds great!

    “This exists in the form of blue orbs that are generated by hitting most things.”

    FAIL ::cry::

    • Tei says:

      What part you don’t understand? to get imagination you hulk crush thing. If hulk feel creative, he bodyslam things.

    • Amadeus says:

      My reaction! And the whole idea of needing it to do even basic tasks is bizarre. Reminds me of the Kingdom of Loathing, or the new Zork, with their turns per day. Which works well enough for static, text-based adventures. But in a fully 3D MMO…?

  22. GCU Speak Softly says:

    I was in the beta for a short while and “Just Let Me Build Stuff” was the itch that couldn’t be scratched. I also posted a screed of stuff to the Devs on how the GUI was just shambolic and counter-intuitive, especially for a kids game.

    Then I went and played with some real Lego.

  23. Urthman says:

    Unless we start seeing some YouTube videos of awesome Lego Universe creations that put the stuff people have built in Minecraft to shame, Lego Universe is doomed.

    What I’m saying is Lego Universe is doomed.

  24. Calabi says:

    I played the beta, it was rubbish then. How they think this is for children I dont know. They made lego how could the not understand there target audience at all. Making a cliche conventional, mmo for kids. I guess if you want to get them addicted to crack when their young. But I dont think kids are susceptible to it at that age.

  25. Lucas says:

    I played Auto Assault, so my expectations were low.

    • TooNu says:

      I to played auto assault, so don’t worry, yo uare not alone. Do we have any more scarred people here?

  26. Whom Bobbin says:

    “Names you give your pets are checked before they’re public, and your creations you make public are vetted by humans before they’re open to other players. Sorry – no willy towers.”

    I’m one of those humans! Believe it or not we’re yet to see a single willy tower. It’s astonishing! It was one of the first things I asked my trainees to look out for and now they think I’m a pervert for ever suggesting that they might encounter a brick dick or a block cock (I’ve got a million of these).

    • John Walker says:

      I am so logging back in and building a willy tower.

    • Wulf says:

      I think you just created a LEGO Universe metagame: See how perverse of a thing you can smuggle into the main game, disguised as something else.

      I have a few horrible, horrible ideas that would get me insta-banned if they were figured out, which makes this game a terribly tempting prospect to me. But I shall resist temptation.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Isn’t EVERY tower a willy tower?

  27. Zogtee says:

    Down the pub, the APB guys buys another round of beers and laughs.

  28. MrBRAD! says:

    In beta, I made a character that was essentially Duke Nukem. “Hail” was a censored word though so I couldn’t even say my damn catch-phrase :(

  29. Mr Chug says:

    Played for a bit in the beta- it was fun for a while, and with some fairly spectacular areas. Eventually got bored though, and as has been said before, Minecraft scratched my lego itch far more than this game ever did.

    Can’t understand why they didn’t just import Lego Racers for the racing bits, that game was awesome.

  30. Zombat says:

    Hey Netdevil, those were the guys that made Jumpgate evolution.

    Oh wait…!

  31. ed says:

    Yup. To echo a bunch of other people, it seems to me that an opportunity has been missed to really capture the spirit of Lego in some kind of minecraft-esque collaborative free-building online experience. When I heard the title announced, I was almost giddy with delight thinking about the potential. Since the whole appeal of Lego, to me, is the freedom of creation, I couldn’t be less interested in the fixed, pre-created world and activities that the developers have cooked up.

    If someone puts together a physics-enabled online lego freebuilding (and destroying) lego game, I’ll pull out my wallet immediately. For now, there’s minecraft.

  32. Horza says:

    Also played the beta a bit. It was somewhat cool at the begininng but the grinding and instakill enemies got so frustrating that I can’t imagine any kid having fun with that.

    Minecraft remains my brick game of choice.

  33. malkav11 says:

    I also messed with the beta. There are some sparks of a genuinely fun game in there, but they were overshadowed by a raft of problems and I eventually couldn’t be bothered to continue to log in, especially with the extremely limited playtest times.

    I mean, I -assume- many of the bugs and missing things that I encountered got fixed or put in, given that it was beta, but it doesn’t sound like it’s anywhere near complete.

  34. Max says:

    The horrid inventory has been there since the start of the beta. You’d think they would have picked up on it.

  35. Tony M says:

    “Imagination” as a grindable recourse is maybe the most depressingly named thing since Xbox “Achievements”.

    Tony

    • bill says:

      Sigh. This. Sigh.

      Sigh.

    • Chris says:

      Actually, ‘Imagination’ in LU is basically the same as ‘mana’ or MP in other games..it just another meter along with the health and armor points.

  36. negativedge says:

    it’s like staring into a alternate reality where minecraft sucks

  37. wyrmsine says:

    All they had to do to keep me playing was let me attach a 2×2 brick to an antenna and use that as a weapon. Sort of baffling that they’d remove the best aspect of Lego in favour of the same old MMO grind.

  38. pipman3000 says:

    i was really expecting a lego mmo to be something like second life without the internet prostution the weird sex orgies the fetish groups cyber sexing eachother and like half the ability to hilariously grief people.

    good thing they put those expectations to rest and made it a stripped down mmo with some lackluster building mode tacked on!

  39. Chris says:

    *rubs neck, which is getting sore from nodding along with the article so much* Yeah, this pretty much hits the nail on the head. LU is decent for a single-player game (and if it was packaged as such, I might consider getting it), but as a MMO–in particular one expecting you to keep paying monthly–it’s *lousy*. All this saddened and infuriated me towards the end of my time in the beta because I could see all this potention for a really good game that they kept falling short of, to the point that I ended up taking the advice of a friend of mine to just give up and walk away before I blew a blood vessel getting aggravated about it. There’s entirely too many royally *bad* decisions put in the game, not the least of which is the utter stupidity of putting the mentioned Malestrom Dragons–which is pretty obviously designed as an end-game boss encounter–in the *middle* of the quest chain, making it impossible to progress further in missions in that area unless you manage to get a group together, or kill-steal from the rare other person who’s there trying it. Another bad decision is that the faction gear is not only expensive, but for the most part fairly useless, since except for the ‘full set’ abilities, the gear available for normal purchase/mission-reward in Forbidden Valley is completely superior to it.

    And then there’s that little problem of them not having implemented the one feature pretty much universally demanded since the *start* of beta, the ability to configure your own controls (kind of a pro-tip…other than menu-selection related stuff, nearly every thing you can do by keyboard…Alt can be used for attack instead of LMB, etc. And frankly, it actually controls better from the keyboard than from the mouse. :-/ )

    On a side note, though–unless they took it out of the release version (along with Starbase 3001 and a couple of other things), the inventory tab for models (and I *think* for building parts…I never was able to bother much with the building system, as the problems elsewhere took the heart out of it for me) allows you to make ‘buckets’ which are more or less just subgroupings/subfolders in the inventory–so you could have one for the Rocket stuff, one for Pets, one for Cars, etc. Oddly, when I played there seemed to be some undocumented recognition/AI with this, because a few times I’d get a new rocket, pet, or car thing and it would automatically appear in the appropriate ‘bucket’ without me explicitly putting it there. It might have been just a lucky and useful glitch, though.

  40. Zogtee says:

    The only Lego games I want are Lego Aliens, Lego Terminator, and possibly Lego Warhammer. :D

  41. Gap Gen says:

    PANTS PARTY

  42. Johnny Go-Time says:

    I gave up on that crappy Star Wars Lego game for similar reasons…Was really excited to try it with my 5-yr-old who loves lego and star wars…and we both found it to be a mindless, boring platformer with zero “lego-ness” to it…agreed with the comments about this needing to be more like Minecraft, less like a grind…

  43. Noterist says:

    On the subject of lack of players, has this been advertised anywhere at all? I don’t see anything on the internets, and I don’t watch saturday morning cartoons (barely any tv) so wouldn’t spot NCSoft advertising directly to kids there.

    I always thought this was gonna be the next big thing for kids, advertised all over the place to get their attention. Then I saw it turn up on the “newly released” list at play.com without any fanfare.

  44. prem0nition says:

    Yeah, I have to agree with most people’s opinion on this game… surprisingly grindy for a kids game, and the GUI is awful. No target lock on often means that you’ll end up firing your ranged weapon at something to the side of you, rather than the target you actually wanted to hit… plus I found that there was an incredible lack of confirmation boxes.

    A friend and I met up in game, went through all the hassle of getting ourselves verified so we could “best friend” each other in game… and then, while I was trying to look at the options on the social tab, the GUI lagged and caused me to accidentally block her. No confirmation box came up to ensure that what I had done wasn’t a mistake, and we had to go through the whole friend/best friend hassle again.

    The game needs a rethink, especially the GUI. Right now it’s a mildly diverting, cutesy game with small locations and a horrendus grind for the faction equipment. The idea of building anything you want (within the bounds of good taste, damn you willy towers and boob hills) is certainly compelling for those of us who are old school MMO’ers used to sandboxes, but the controls and GUI just aren’t friendly enough to make the process enjoyable.

    • prem0nition says:

      Also, I feel that I have to mention the draconian chat box limitations. While I completely agree with the need to protect the kiddies from bad language, the chat box filter takes things waay to far, making a lot of the most common MMO expressions a No No.

      Try saying “I need to kill 3 more Stromlings for this quest” and see how the game treats you for it. Protecting kiddies is good, but forcing you to come up with imaginitive ways to get around the chat filter just to say what you need to do in game is a bit much, especially when such things wouldn’t cause a 5 year old to bat an eye lid.

  45. Aiden says:

    My 10 year old played it for a few days then went back to Forge World in Halo Reach. We told him he has to pay the subscription fee out of his allowance, and I’m pretty sure he’s not going to.