My Brief Gaming Experience With Lego Universe
This article is a continuation of my previous article, Beta Testing With Lego Universe. Lego Universe is a massively multiplayer online game (MMOG). In my article I basically explained the technical problems I encountered just to get the game to work on my machine. It was a frustrating experience because for almost two years I occasionally looked for the released date of the game which kept slipping until October 2010. After weeks of sorting out the networking issues, I finally get to test the game.
At first you get to create your character which is to take pre-made building blocks such as body, torso, head, and hair and put a minifigure together. The problem is that the selection of the building blocks and colors are very limited. I imagined it didn't matter. Being familiar with many computer games, I suspect the hook was to get opportunities to change the appearance of your character the more you play the game.
Once you've created your character, now it's time to make up a name. This name can't be used until it is approved by the Lego Universe administrative folks, who I assume are humans. In the meantime, you have to create a temporary name from a selection of random words. The purpose is to ensure that users create clean names. If you have played online games before, you will know what I am talking about. Lego Universe is a family game and with a company like Lego, extra protection will be enforced to protect children.
After you have created the name of the character, the game goes into some cinematic movie cut scene. I was able to bypass the video due to my experience with many video games. The escape key was usually the keyboard key that took care of skipping to the game-playing. I never really cared about the cinematics of any game. (The exception was Star Wars themed games). I just wanted to play right away.
The first thing that happens after the opening video is that you are taken to an in-game tutorial inside a spaceship. You are almost given baby steps to show you how to move your character and be familiar with the user interface to do things such as smash things, grab things, talk to other characters, and take things from the inventory of stuff you've collected. There is a limit that you can carry in your basic backpack. As you play, you will encounter orb objects called imagination. It is like money and power all rolled in one. The more you collect, the more things that you will be allowed to do.
Inside the spaceship, several imaginations is required to allow a platform to make you jump to a character that will guide you to the next challenge. What made me angry was that the controls to make my character jump didn't work. If you fail, you need to collect imagination again to power the platform. I made many attempts to get past this problem over a few days and was about to contact Lego about what I thought was a glitch.
Your character can die if you make a mistake. In the spaceship, it is possible to fall down deep into the ship if you are not careful. You can still rebuild and continue the game while losing only a few Lego coins. After completing the quest to build a simple rocket, you are taken to a planet called Avant Gardens. Here you will meet more heroes and see villains called the Maelstrom for the first time. The bad guys a easy to fight but it will get harder later.
The time I got into the game was a very busy one with personal and family life and as a result, I rarely played Lego Universe. I eventually completed several missions in Avant Gardens which opened up more worlds, more missions, more characters to see, and more challenges that seemed like it could take forever to complete. It started to look fun but the beta testing period had ended.
I was hoping that as a beta tester, I would get some compensation for my hard work in the form of a free copy of the software or free subscription to the online game. Unfortunately, beta testers get neither. I later found out that the game costs $39.99 plus subscription. The cost per month is $9.99, $8.35, or $7.50 depending if you want a one month, six month, or twelve month subscription respectively. The worst case is that the total cost would be approximately $130 for the game plus a year's subscription.
Lego Universe looks like a promising game for my kids and for myself. They would really love playing this game. I let my son test it a few times and it was difficult to get him off the computer. But I am not impressed with the price. I have better things to do with my time and money.