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Playing LEGO Universe (before it implodes)

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Playing LEGO Universe (before it implodes)

Post  P_Thorne on Thu Dec 22, 2011 10:25 pm

Since "LEGO Universe" will be closing at the end of January, and since I bought a game DVD back in April, and since I contributed to a couple of Jim Foulds-administered AFOL surveys during its design phase, I figured I should try it out. Here are some quick reactions; I'll post when more detailed commentary is ready on my blog. (It's a lengthy post; if you quote to respond, please trim.)

* The promo video you've seen at the LEGO Stores, featuring the four faction leaders, does not appear in the game.

* The initial level (aboard the Venture Explorer) is a single wide-open space, where you learn to move, jump, interact with NPCs, bash things to gain loot, and quick-build.

* The levels are very pretty, especially Nimbus Station, which is hilly parkland in perpetual twilight (or maybe the atmosphere is very thin -- these are all floating rocks, after all). There's a separate musical track for each section, so it's like a theme park.

* NPCs stand around stupidly, waiting to converse with you and other players. In a more realistic MMO, this would look downright odd. Here, it's cute, like the brick-built objects and non-brick cartoonish landscape and foliage.

* My video card (a 2005 Nvidia, bought for Second Life) is capable of running LU, but does frequently warn of 130┬░F overheating ("I'm going to slow down now").

* The first few worlds, which act as tutorials, are on rails -- meet an NPC, get a mission, complete it, unlock a feature. But there's way too much backtracking; e.g., in Avant Gardens, the Construction Zone missions involve running to the top of a scaffold a half-dozen times. Some Nimbus Station missions are scavenger-hunts through the valleys around the central plaza. Finding Mardolf the Orange is especially difficult; when your mission is "find this NPC," the NPC is illuminated with a heavenly spotlight -- but only once you've come into his proximity.

* When you first acquire a pet, the "Dig" menu action is available, but has no effect. You have to unlock it with a scavenger-hunt mission. The control should've been visibly disabled.

* The view is third person, and the camera is a tad erratic. It usually floats somewhere above your avatar's left shoulder, but zooms in closer if landscape would interfere with the sightline. At other times, bits of landscape will turn transparent. It's possible to get stuck in a tight corner with nonsense clipping. You can't quick-pick preset camera positions, but there is some limited zoom and tilt with the mouse.

* Your avatar is, of course, a minifig, with standard accessories. Low-level melee weapons include the classic sword, pickaxe, sledge hammer, halberd, etc. The inventory icon is a classic backpack. Buyable items include Imaginite and Quicksicles, which are familiar elements. Many elements appear in colored or texmapped guises that don't physically exist, more's the pity.

* It appears to be impossible to "grief" other players -- e.g., the "attack" command (ALT) has no effect on anything but adversaries. (No, I'm not trying to stab you, I'm just swinging my trident enthusiastically as we're chatting.)

* Bashing things releases clouds of loot, and you have to scoop it all up by moving around. Loot includes Health, Armor, Imagination, Money, Bricks and, once you've joined a faction, Faction Tokens. The last category doesn't vanish simply by walking through the cloud; I might be doing something wrong.

* All this bashing-as-gameplay-dynamic seems vaguely hoodlumish and vandalistic. Only some objects are bashable; they're indicated by a shimmer. You get bricks as loot, but not the specific bricks of which the object is contructed.

* The movement controls are a bit coarse, which is especially annoying while moving through loot-clouds or lining up a tricky jump. But attacking (with a melee weapon) is easy -- just stand anywhere near your adversary. (Ranged attacks have a targeting cursor.)

* Most control is by keyboard -- walk, jump, interact, attack, activate your five equipment slots, chat, toggle the backpack, etc. Onscreen menus are secondary -- quick chat, pet commands, rearranging your backpack.
2x3 Brick
2x3 Brick

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Join date : 2010-01-10
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