The Lego game franchise was a staple of the late-nineties PC scene, with titles like Lego Island and Creator proving extremely popular with kids and adults alike. Fast forward to today and it seems like any major franchise you can name has its own Lego tie-in, and that Lego has all but forgotten its gaming roots featuring characters of its own creation. Lately we’ve seen Lego Worlds pop up on Early Access as a kind of obvious create ’em up in the vein of Minecraft, but in a more interesting twist this month also saw the (re)release of Lego Minifigures Online for PC, iOS and Android.
In a clear attempt at capitalising on its ever-popular minifigures, Lego has teamed up with seasoned MMO experts Funcom. They’ve worked on adult-oriented games like Age of Conan and The Secret World, both of which met differing degrees of success. The question, however, is whether or not Funcom can emulate the physical Lego magic in a purely digital setting?
To get you going in Lego Minifigures Online you’re given a choice from a handful of starter characters and then thrust into a world of adventure, fun and mercilessly unrelenting product placement – but that was to be expected.
The Lego Worlds are each split up by section, just like the real toys, and you’ll visit each of them to meet quirky characters and defeat evildoers. Once you’ve completed the game’s introductory chapter, which sees you rough up Captain Dreadleg and his cronies, you’ll unlock the hub world to be guided to other adventures using your mysterious Crystal Compass.
At its most basic Lego Minifigures Online could be considered a watered down version of Diablo and similar RPGs, with ghostly pirates instead of the grotesque, and evil wizards instead of, err, eviler wizards. A reliance on team building and playing with others means you won’t have to knock blocks off on your lonesome, though.
The key focus of the game is to amass as many of the titular minifgures as you can, as they are your key to ridding the Lego Worlds of evil. Each minifigure is based on a real life toy and has two unique attacks – a special attack with a cooldown period, and a less powerful standard attack. You’ll find instances scattered all over the Lego Worlds where you can unlock extra figures to bolster your crew by defeating enemies and bosses.
You can have three different minifigures assigned to your team at any one time, meaning you can mix and match each of their skills for more potent attacks. For example, the Holywood Starlet minifigure’s area of effect attack pairs nicely with the Revolutionary Soldier minifigure’s multiple shot attack, which sees him spawn duplicate versions of himself. Finding how best to use these powers with each other takes time and thought, but can mean the difference between completing an instance or failing miserably. There are seemingly hundreds of different minifigures to unlock, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, and the chances are you will find a class balance that suits your play style. Funcom and Lego are also partnering
to rip parents off by bundling minifigure blind bags with unlock codes that can be used in-game, meaning there’s an unlimited amount of cash to be spent fun to be had.
Despite it’s rather easy beginning stages Lego Minifigures Online is a bit of a grind, truth be told. You’ll travel around the map smashing up wave after wave of enemy, amassing experience points and smashing up the scenery. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and the controller support really makes the combat easy on your clicking finger, but I do question even a child’s threshold for doing the same things repeatedly. As the game is geared more towards younger players it gets a pass, but older players should be aware that the action lacks the kind of depth you’d find in other RPGs. Luckily boss fights add some much-needed variety, challenging you to build contraptions to launch projectiles, dodge enemies and other environmental hazards. There’s a lot of fun to be had here, provided you or your child can stomach the repetition and lack of character customisation.
Players from the iOS, Android and PC versions are free to interact with and play along with each other – although it does seem to have been at the expense of a few PC specific features. At present, the PC port features a few basic graphical and audio presets, but you can forget about rebinding any controls, even on a control pad. I’d like to believe that Funcom kept things simple for the children’s sake, but I am still left pouting at the lack of PC specific options available.
Some drawbacks and in your face product placement aside, Lego Minifigures Online is a jolly, colourful, and potentially exploitative/expensive (delete as appropriate) game that will keep Lego fans happy.