I love LEGO and I suppose it’s in my DNA because my daughters, particularly one of them, are LEGO building fanatics. Give her a giant bucket of multicolored bricks and she’s off constructing every animal, structure and vehicle she can dream up. My daughters also inherited my gamer geek gene (and their dad’s – I really shouldn’t take all the credit blame here). So, LEGO Universe seemed like the dream game experience for our family – imagination, building, multi-player collaboration and challenge. My daughters beta-tested the game for several months and have been playing the full fledged version for free this past month. As have I – in the name of research of course. You can read all the nitty gritty details about LEGO Universe and check out the Trailer, but
Here are my (Geek)Mom Top 5 Things I Love About LEGO Universe:
- It captures the spirit of real world LEGO in all the best ways – creative, inventive, somewhat challenging but also rewarding
- It has an amazingly whimsical sense of humor. That might not be what most people look for in an online game but I seriously appreciate the small witty touches from the MiniFig who covers his eyes while you type in your password to the way guy who lost his pants outside the rock venue that’s hiding in a barrel. Just funny.
- Piece of mind when it comes to the online safety of my kids. The moderation is woven into every level of the game, from chat to character naming to on-site patrol of the game. I know it’s a world where the real life creeps will be crushed by the Maelstrom.
- The ability to engage with others, determine levels of friendship or go it alone and build your own property. Let’s hear it for imagination and the building of LEGO structures brick by brick in ways they can’t do in real life.
- LEGO Universe ignited my daughters’ imagination off-line too. After logging off of LEGO Universe my daughters went on a building binge in real life and a bit of a buying spree at the LEGO Rockefeller Center Store. It’s a habit I don’t mind feeding.
Here Are the Things That Make Me Go Hmmm
- This is not an easy game for younger kids. It is rated 10+ and unless you have a very experienced little gamer on your hands you should heed that age. Or be prepared to offer assistance and play along with them
- It’s Not Entirely Intuitive. The game doesn’t offer a ton of hints or help along the way but once you get the hang of how to complete missions and where to look for clues it becomes much easier to navigate.
- The price. This is a much richer, deeper and creative experience than a Club Penguin or Fantage but it costs $39.99 plus the yearly membership of $89.99 compared to their cost of around $58.00. You get 4 MiniFig Players with your account so you can share among siblings and family members but in my house that’s not the best option because my twin daughters like to go into these online games at the same time and play together. So $260 for 2 kids for that first year breaks down to over $20/month which doesn’t seem like a lot for hours of entertainment (my daughters get 1 -1/2 hours of computer time on Saturday and Sunday – sometimes it’s more if we’re especially tired!) but in the scheme of a family budget it’s something to consider. Though I think we will be incorporating it into allowance and they will have to pay 50% themselves.
And I should mention that you get a month free when you purchase the game so you have time to make sure your child is going to stick with it. You can also purchase month to month if you have a finicky kid who tends to get obsessed for a month or two and then moves on to the next thing.
It’s not in my nature or my blog’s nature to do this kind of straight up review but I really do love LEGO (and NetDevil) as companies and brands. They’ve not only been some of the most passionate, creative and thoughtful people I’ve ever met but I have to love a company that values the power of imagination above all else. That’s a trait I’m happy to pass on to my daughters right alongside all that other geekified DNA.