Lego Universe Hits Shelves Today!

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Minifig designMinifig design

My older daughter designs her minifig while little sister looks on.

Lego Universe, the new MMO from NetDevil Studios, should be hitting store shelves (and online vendors such as Amazon) today. For those who preordered the game, the Founders’ Release launched earlier this month. I got a virtual “press pass” and was able to take a peek and explore the various worlds of Lego Universe with my kids, and it has been a blast.

I had gotten a pretty good idea of the game during the Family Media Day at the beginning of this month, but having played through a lot of the missions now, I can say that it’s a fantastic experience. My almost-seven-year-old daughter doesn’t have a lot of experience with computer games, but she has really enjoyed getting to design her own minifig, learning how to run around and smash bricks and collect things, and has just joined the Paradox Faction because she likes ninjas. She does need some help finding things and is still a bit young for it, but I don’t mind stepping in to help her out from time to time. For my part, I joined the Assembly Faction (they’re engineers and builders) and have tackled everything from cursed pirate minifigs to a giant fire-breathing dragon.

One complaint is that, on my computer, it takes a long time to load and I have had some problems with the game freezing up—particularly in graphics-heavy areas like the stormy Gnarled Forest. The NetDevil team said they worked hard to make it a game that would run on older computers as well, but sometimes even with the graphics settings dialed back I think it’s still a little more than my three-year-old iMac can handle. (Or maybe it’s my DSL connection; I can’t be absolutely sure.) So sometimes I get weird glitchy things, like missing QuickBuild stations or occasionally even desolate levels empty of everything: no other players, no enemies.

Also, I have run into at least a little bit of “it feels like work” even here—particularly in gaining enough tokens to upgrade equipment or purchase bricks for your properties. Sometimes you just have to run around smashing things to build up your balance, and that Faction equipment isn’t cheap. Still, I’m trying to do everything within a month (which is how long my pass lasts) so I’m probably trying too hard. (All for you, my dear readers.)

All in all, I’ve had a blast playing Lego Universe myself, and I’m sure both kids and adults will really love what NetDevil Studios has cooked up.

Watch for a photo gallery later this week showing some of the worlds and minigames. For now, check out the official website for videos and more news, or visit LegoUni.com, which is another great resource for news and information about the game. LegoUni recently did a Q & A with Ryan Seabury of NetDevil Studios which is definitely worth reading if you’re curious about the game.

And, of course, if you’ve seen enough and you’re ready to dive in yourself, pick up a copy today and get going!

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