There was a little buzz about Lego Universe in the blog-o-sphere, namely that it was really lacking content. Despite that, I picked it up for the boys (2 copies, I figured I’ll piggyback on my youngest son’s account) and played it a couple times.
It’s mildy amusing, aimed at kids. I’m not really sure it translates well to adults/young adults, though I admit I had some fun in the area you own and can build stuff in. You can get preset type blocks and build stuff with them, or you can get the basic blocks and build some items out of those. You can also adjust block colors and even apply behaviours (like making something go up and down like an elevator).
The areas I’ve seen don’t appear to be too big; Avant Gardens and … I can’t remember the name of the jungle area with the pirates and stuff.
In game UI is a little annoying, but that might just be that it’s somewhat different from what I’m used to. Left mouse click to attack, when using a ranged weapon the mouse cursor is the target point (which is weird when you’re used to shooting in the direction you’re facing).
As I mentioned above, there are blocks you can find and use to build things and create models for use for your ‘blockyard’ which is your own personal instance to build and decorate in. You actually do a little quest to get it.
Account UI was simple enough, though setting up a Parent account could have been easier. You have to create an account for the parent (make sense) then log into the kid account, set the account management from there rather than do it from the Parent account. Having two kids, I had to log into each one and set my Parent account through each one. It would have been easier to log into the parent account, then from there connect the kid accounts. Minor annoyance.
Also annoying is adding ‘best friends’ in game requires parental consent and oddly enough if two accounts have the same parental account, said Best Friend thing isn’t automatic. Oh, and it’s by characters instead of account at that point. I mean, adding a Friend based on character, adding a Best Friend based on account makes sense.
I couldn’t really find any easy mechanism to get to your friend either, unlike in Wizard 101 where you could just teleport to their location. I guess it makes some sense to prevent that given some of the racing minigames, but still – you want a mechanism to transfer to the instance/server your Best Friend or Friend is in.
I’m also not too keen on the 10$ a month subscription fee. No family rate. You do get 30 days free on buying the game. I’m REALLY surprised they didn’t go F2P, I could see people spending tons of cash on virtual packages of blocks and stuff like that.
My older son (7) seems to really like it. My youngest son (5) wasn’t too keen on it after the first sitting; he kept falling off things and getting ‘smashed’ by bad guys. He’s not as coordinated for computer games as my older son, but does okay with consoles.