There are few franchises that started outside of the video gaming world that would fit so well in it like Lego, and with Lego Minifigures Online, Funcom is trying to bring the world of Lego online. It is hard to avoid the Lego in my home, there are the big pieces for younger kids scattered all over the place by my 1.5 year old and then there are the small “real” pieces of Lego that the five year old plays with. Seeing how Lego Minifigures Online is a game aiming for both the youngster how play with all these great figures from the Lego universe, and their parents who couldn’t avoid Lego even if they wanted to I did this review with my five year old son, someone much closer to the target audience for this game.
Thoughts from a five year old
Having shelves filled with all sorts of Lego from Lego City, to Lego Friends and Star Wars, he did jump at the idea of playing a Lego game on my computer and my phone. Having experience with other types of Lego games in third person he did quite easily get into the game, especially with a gamepad even if it where some control issues. He constantly talked about all the minifigures he wanted to collect and having a shot at collecting one after dinner made him eat anything without complaining. He did prefer to play it on the mobile though, which do have a lot easier controls to learn and controls that feel a little less clunky.
After playing the game a while he did end up bored with it, much faster than other non-online games. He said he didn’t want to play more Lego Minifigures Online because nothing new happened and it was scary at sometimes. Even if the collecting part kept him going for a while extra, the interest in the game and being forced to attack stuff, made him put it down and quickly forget about the game. His conclusion ended up being that the real Lego is much more fun since you can do more stuff and because it is never scary.
Thoughts from the parent
While Lego Minifigures Online is a game aimed at the whole family, the ones that will actually enjoy the game are neither the youngest nor the older, but the ones that want some fighting and scares in their games, but also do like collecting. I had to take over the controls and play at times because the game became too violent and sometimes to scary for my five year old. I wouldn’t recommend this as a way in to start playing MMOs for the youngest, there are better games for that out there.
The best thing from a parent's point of view is that Lego Minifigures Online is mainly buy to play. You pay for it at one time and get access to all its content, even future updates. Having microtransactions thrown in your face can be a problem even if you play the game alone. But having you kid breaking down for not having a certain advertised character is a huge problem in its own, which never happened with Lego Minifigures Online.
Lego Minifigures Online turned out to be a game he had some problems playing alone due to both the control issues and no localisation support. So instead of him calling for me every other minute, we ended up playing it together where I often took control of our character and did what he told me too.
Lego Minifigures Online is not a great MMO, but it is also not a bad MMO. If you start playing it with anticipation as other more adult oriented MMOs, you will be very disappointed. The gameplay is very linear, an almost non-existing story, repetitive fights and an endgame all about collecting new minifigures. If you have a little older child it may be something he or she will enjoy.
While I really like Lego Minifigures not falling for micro-transactions and that offers free new content on a semi-regular basis, it is not enough to make the core game any more fun. I have never been a player that focuses on collecting everything I can, and the system here is almost identical to your regular achievement collecting, with the difference that you can play as what you collect. If this is the sort of thing you look for in an MMO then maybe you will find more pleasure in it than I did.
One of the things that bring Lego Minifigures Online down is its stiff and unresponsive gameplay. While the controls are very standards for any third person MMO and the objectives all follow similar patterns, the game is easy to come into if you have played similar games before. My son who hasn’t touched these games before did have a harder time getting into it despite the introduction given to the controls. The bigger problem how unresponsive the controls can be at times, especially when playing the game with a controller, which was far the easiest way for my son to play after the mobile version. One thing that helped him get more into the game was the possibility to play on a tablet device, where the touchscreen controls where a little more responsive.
Lego Minifigures Online doesn’t really offer anything new in terms of content. The game is basically only about collecting new minifigures and exploring the Lego world as the different minifigs. While this did become quite a drag for me as an adult, my son quite enjoyed the collecting part and couldn't talk about anything else during the time he was playing. In one sense the typical MMO experience found here in a light version, might be a good gateway into MMOs, if that is something you want for your children. But be aware that it is a gateway to MMOs that are better suited for older children then younger ones.
The community in Lego Minifigures Online is mainly made up of kids. Given how controlled the chat is, the chat is always clean and never contains anything inappropriate. Seeing how there is no localisation of the game and everyone plays on English speaking servers, I had to do a lot of translation work seeing how my son is Swedish and only speaks a few English words, but the game helped improve his English skills to include even more words.
Graphics and Sounds 7/10
Depending on what format you are playing on, Lego Minifigures Online will be either quite nice looking in terms of graphics, or pretty bad looking. If you are playing the game on a tablet device then the game looks above average compared to other online mobile games. If you are playing it on the computer the game will look below average and the nice blocky art direction cannot save it. For a kid this doesn’t seem to matter at all, but I did find it quite annoying seeing how the PC version was scaled down because of the mobile version. Lego Minifigures Online comes with some great and goofy sounds from the hilarious minifigures you can play as which adds to the overall experience.
Being a buy to play game might be the best thing happening to an online game aimed at kids. With no paywalls for the kids to want, it became much more enjoyable to play then other similar games. Depending on how much of a collector you are as a gamer, the value for the game will differ. Seeing how you pretty fast explore all the currently available areas and how the gameplay is much of the same, it all comes down to how much you like collecting. But seeing how new minifigures are added to the game without an extra price tag, it will certainly be a high value for collectors of Lego.
Lego Minifigures Online is not a bad game in anyway. If you look aside for the somewhat stiff and unresponsive controls it is also a pretty well made game. It doesn’t offer anything new to the table aside from being an online Lego game. If you like collecting things and if Lego is one of your favourite things, this will be a good game for you, for a while. But if you want for then repetitive task in a small amount of areas, and if you want the game to be a little deeper you and your kids might want to look elsewhere.