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FEATURED VOXPOP oblivion437 Update: I was unfortunately not aware of Shamus Young's severe criticism of Fallout 3 available here to link in the original piece and I regret that.  It dovetails rather nicely with what I've written and it's much better executed than my piece.  I strongly recommend anyone...

LEGO Minifigures Online Preview

danielrbischoff By:
danielrbischoff
03/27/14
PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION
EMAIL TO A FRIEND
GENRE MMO 
PLAYERS 1- 4 
PUBLISHER Funcom 
DEVELOPER Funcom 
RELEASE DATE  

Emoticon blast!

Fans of Lego have certainly gotten everything they could have hoped for from the brand in the past few months, wrapping up a full-length feature film with new and expanded building sets throughout multiple universes, but one product line might have been ignored by fans. Minifigures gives you a random chance at specifically named characters, even those you’ve seen in the recent movie. While the random element means you don’t know who you’re going to get when you buy a minifigures pack, you’re bound to get someone full of Lego charm.

That’s the exact quality that Lego Minifigures Online strives for. In my hands-on experience with the game, I ventured into The Pirate Bay, a tongue-in-cheek reference to Internet pirates within the minifig universe. While the game still relies on random chance in unlocking new minifigures, most of the characters I used in my hands-on time had a hook all their own.

Lego Minifigures Online is totally free-to-play across PC, iOS, and Android clients, meaning kids of all ages can download and play the title on whichever device they’re most comfortable with. You can unlock every character in the game without buying anything and, in fact, there’s nothing to purchase within Lego Minifigures Online. Minifigure packs in store will include game codes to unlock the characters you find, but then you’re buying a toy and not just a digital good. This is a really friendly way to approach the marketplace with a brand that could have wound up leaving users more confused than anything else.

Do I need to buy a pack of bricks too? Do I need to get the $100 set at the store to open a new level? No and no. Lego’s appeal speaks to the child in everyone, even Will Ferrell, so keeping Minifigures Online simple and easy is key to its business model. Still, the gameplay feels satisfying enough for adults to enjoy with their kids. In fact, you don’t choose just one minifigure to play as. You choose three.

The left mouse button is attached to a normal attack while the right mouse button has a stronger, more varied attack or ability. Clicking anywhere on the map moves your character into position and ranged characters allow you to hold the shift key to stand still, just like Diablo. The Q, W, and E keys let you switch between each minifigure, while a menu allows you to swap for other characters you’ve unlocked. I opened several bags and found a trendsetter character, a knight, a fairy princess, and more.

Trendsetter looks like a valley girl obsessed with her cellphone, but her emoticon blasting does plenty of damage (not unlike your typical high-school social media bully). Trendsetter’s secondary ability pops three digital hearts that would spin slowly before increasing your health. Switching to another minifigure after deploying those hearts would allow the other character to receive the health boost instead. The same is true for other stat buffs and area of effect attacks, meaning fleet fingers can switch between characters for powerful combinations.

The variety available in Lego Minifigures Online is only limited by the increasing number of business deals Lego has struck with some of your favorite brands. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few new Star Wars characters join the fray somewhere down the line. While these factors are important, I think it’s a bigger deal that the iOS, Android, and PC clients interact with each other on the same servers. Bringing all the Lego elements together for a kid-friendly loot-fest is quite an undertaking, and if there's any issue with Lego's version of toys-come-to-life, it's that the mechanics could prove stale for seasoned gamers.

Still, with online worlds beginning to take shape and form around the player, it’s not unreasonable to assume that Funcom will listen to the community and react with appropriate updates and enhancements. The developers hope to open their game to LEGO fans everywhere this summer.

Tags:   lego, Funcom
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