What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is an MMORPG -- Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game -- that requires purchase of boxed software as well as a monthly subscription to play. The game is both CARU (Children's Advertising Review Unit) and COPPA (Children's Online Privacy Protection Act) compliant, and although kids will be playing online with other kids, chat is limited to a "white list" of allowed words. There is some violence as kids use weapons to attack and defend themselves, but this is a LEGO world, so the worst that happens is that LEGO characters and things break apart. The game suffers from a lack of tips and directions, but for kids who have the patience to keep trying, it can be rewarding.
What's it about?
Four adventurers search for the Imagination Nexus, the source of Pure Imagination, but the greed of one causes a dark Maelstrom of chaotic energy to be released. In LEGO UNIVERSE, you are called upon to defeat the dark forces of the Maelstrom and save the Universe. Players entering this massively multiplayer online world of LEGO Universe will explore through the world, battling and smashing evil creatures, collecting bricks, and building LEGO creations in their own player properties.
Is it any good?
Kids who have played other LEGO games will know what to expect from LEGO Universe. It shares the same smash-things-and-collect-items-that-drop game mechanic, allows for quick building of LEGO structures by simply pushing a button, and offers platform puzzles where your character jumps and double-jumps to navigate through the game's environments. The game also allows for some LEGO building from the ground up using bricks collected via smashing things or earned as quest rewards. Kids will also be able to build race cars to race against others. One of the most creative and interesting aspects of the online world is the ability to add and link behaviors to model which will program it to respond in certain ways to certain stimuli. This elementary programming encourages kids to think logically and work out sequences of actions and reactions.
The game however, is light on tips and directions. This is a large open world that can be confusing to younger children. The camera angles can be awkward and kids are thrown directly into the action. Younger kids could easily get their avatar (mini-figure) smashed again and again just in this first area as the evil forces will attack if you wander too close. It is a difficult first step, but kids who persevere will obtain their first property and be able to build their first LEGO structure.
Online interaction: Kids are limited to a "white list" of words to use in text chat and the game works in such as way that many players attacking one creature will help each other, not hinder each other.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about setting computer time limits. How much time is too much time online? Can staring at a computer screen for long periods of time actually hurt your eyes?
Families can also talk about cartoon violence. What does getting smashed mean? The LEGO objects and characters get broken into bricks -- does that mean this game isn't violent?