I'm really not one for videogames, period. My idea of a great videogame is Adventure on the Atari 2600. That was great game. It was in color *and* fitted in 4k of memory (including the Easter Egg!).
However, today my son and I got the chance to play test Lego Universe - for a two solid hours - and I have to admit that now I've seen it in the flesh, all my prior doubts about this product have been dispelled.
I think this was the first time in many years that I actually found myself thinking "Yeah, I could imagine sitting down the playing that game on a regular basis". At which point my brain went into complete ambivolence overload!
Unfortunately I can't discuss specific game features, for fear of being eaten in my sleep by a swarm of vengeful Darkling minifigs. So for now I will simply review the game with a single word: AWESOME.
Fortuntately, plenty of public footage of the game is emerging now, so I recommend anyone within the sound of my voice check out the videos on the Lego Universe YouTube channel. The trailers are pure Hollywood nonsense, but there are now also videos of actual gameplay demonstrations from this year's CES expo.
For me what differentiates LU from other Lego-branded videogames is that its (obviously) a MMORG. None of the monotonous linearity of your typical platform game. You are free to explore vast realms of gamespace, choose your short-term activities and long-term goals, or interact with other players in real time. Plus the whole thing is child centric and there's even in-game Lego building!
Or to put it another way: It is significantly less of a total waste of time than a normal videogame!
And from the perspective of a Lego fan, I think this product is going to be a huge win for the Lego brand, and anything that keeps the Lego company strong and healthy gets my vote. Lego is a truly cross-generational product, and so is LU.
Of course, the question is, can the Lego company pull it off? Will this thing really scale up to millions of users? Will it succeed only being available for the PC and not on consoles? Only time will tell. But my son did remind me today (chuckling as he did so) about an exchange he witnessed between me and some LU team members at BrickCon last year...
OJ: "How do you plan to make LU successfully complete with Runescape?"
LU: "What's Runescape?"
Isn't the first rule of business "Know you enemy"?!