Lego jumps into the world of MMO RPGS with Minifigures Online. We test out the experience on both Mac and iOS in our latest review.
In recent years Lego has amassed an impressive catalogue of digital games alongside its already gargantuan brick empire and the latest addition is Lego Minifigures Online – it takes classic MMO elements from the genre, slims things right down and sweetens them to appeal to a younger audience.
In fact the game’s narrative, gameplay and multiplayer elements are all heavily tailored to being kid-friendly, which is a good thing. If any franchise was going to make an MMO for newcomers and youngsters, Lego seems like a pretty good fit.
Of course if you’re a little older, the gameplay might not be quite as engrossing as you’ve come to expect from other titles of its ilk, but there’s enough going on to mix things up just enough that the experience doesn’t turn stale.
Your main goal is to accumulate minifigures, each coming with their own unique abilities, strengths and weaknesses, allowing you to progress through the main story. The revolutionary soldier has an excellent ranged attack, whilst the plumber is a faster builder. You can use three minifigures and their respective abilities at once, swapping between them on the fly, but you can reconfigure which three members are in your immediate party via the full minifigure quick search menu.
As you smash your way through the world you’ll accumulate hearts to restore health and stars, which effectively serve as in-game currency used to level up the speed, attack or life of your characters.
Feeding back into the child-centric gameplay your three hot-swappable characters don’t share a life bar, so you can take a lot of punishment and swap out a minifigure near death letting them recover whilst another takes over the battle. Should you lose all of your health however, the punishment for death isn’t too severe, placing you at the nearest teleportation point – a network of plinths also used to quickly manoeuvre around the game’s various worlds.
Visually you’re presented with a myriad of environments almost (but not) entirely hewn from familiar Lego pieces. The enemies, items, power-ups and environments draw heavily from some of the most successful lines in the company’s history, with the story kicking off in an actual Lego centre featuring boxed sets laid along shelves, before quickly transitioning into the pirate world as you track down the spectral captain, Dreadleg.
As interesting names go, character creation avoids the risk of inappropriate and offensive user handles by letting you chose from a predefined list of first, last and nicknames, the latter of which hovers over your head when other players are nearby as an identifier.
As the username we chose was ‘Danger Daffy Duck’ other players would simply see ‘Daffy’ in-game unless they decided to add us as a friend or engage in the game’s inbuilt chat system, which is monitored by Crisp Thinking, ensuring abuse, profanity and other age-inappropriate wording doesn’t offend or upset players.
Once you’ve traversed the main story of the pirate world you’re next destination is the medieval world, but to unlock it and every subsequent world after requires an additional in-app purchase, which always stings when you’ve paid for the game to begin with.
When it works Minifigures Online works incredibly well, letting you pick up exactly where you left off across devices, when there are server issues however, you’re basically stuck in the mud. You may find attacks don’t work or animate correctly, enemies straight up ignore you or lag manifests itself as a horde of invisible enemies laying into you, forcing you to flail blindly as your health meter drains.
We can put these problems down to teething issues and the additional load of new players following the game’s recent launch, but Minifigures Online has been in testing for some time and server lag or a buggy client are the last thing you or your kids want to deal with when playing a new title.
One the whole we like Funcom’s simplified take on the MMO genre and the Lego world they’ve built around you the player. More experienced gamers will want to try for bigger challengers than Lego Minifigures Online can offer you, but if you’re a kid, you have kids or you’re looking for an MMO experience that runs surprisingly well on a mobile device, this is undoubtedly worth a shot.