A while back, a free to play MMO was released known as LEGO Minifigures Online. It was an interesting concept of a LEGO game, involving Diablo style gameplay, and tons of unlockables; It also came with more than its fair share of paywalls. I tried the game out briefly when it first released, but wasn’t thoroughly impressed by the lack of actual free content. Maybe this was a universal complaint, as the game was shut down after a short amount of time only to be re-released as a $30 game under the same title.
The “New” Lego Minifigures Online is very much the same game, but with a few tweaks here and there, and absolutely no microtransactions that I could find. It’s just a better game, overall, and I had much more fun with it this time around. I will always stand by the thought that paying full price for a game is much better than playing a game for free and not having access to 75% of the content, and that really shows in this case.
In Lego Minifigures Online, you take control of a hero who is destined to save the land from evil with the power of a magical item known as The Crystal Compass. You go on adventures in various themed areas, including a Pirate world, a Medieval world, an Alien world, and much more. Each world has its own little story that you must follow in order to proceed to the next area, along with optional mini-dungeons, achievements, and unlockable characters to add plenty of replay value.
Gameplay is incredibly simple: You run around a world and hack ‘n’ slash enemies in a Diablo-esque style. You have one normal attack and a special attack, which both vary from character to character. Along the way you will unlock tons of new minifigures to play as, with a total of three in your “hotbar” at once. Each character will have different stats and abilities. The three stats are strength, defense, and creativity. The first two are self explanatory, but creativity is a bit of an odd ball — It simply governs how quickly you build things in the world. Sometimes you’ll have to build objects to proceed in the game, much like the LEGO games we’re used to, but some characters do it a lot slower than others.
This feature outright confused me. Why make certain characters slower builders than others? There is rarely a time when you’ll need to build an object quickly, save for one particular boss in the first world — and I’m sure there are more akin to this — but even then I could still manage with a character that possessed low creativity. It seems like a complete afterthought thrown in for artificial difficulty.
New characters are unlocked by playing through the story, completing small dungeons known as “Pocket Adventures”, and building them from pieces found at the end of said pocket adventures. This adds a great amount of variety to the game, as you have a huge pool of characters to pick from. You can level up, and obtain stars by completing quests and defeating enemies. These stars act as skill points in a way. When you get to a certain level, all of your characters will unlock a new skill tier to pick, which can give them better attack, more health, or even a new ability.
Unfortunately, all of this doesn’t stop most of the characters from being carbon copies of each other. Most do the same amount of damage, have the same amount of health, and no special ability is more powerful than the last. The characters may look different, have different attacks, and feel different, but in the end they all pretty much get the job done.
This is the worst part of LEGO Minifigures Online: It’s much too forgiving and easy. Every minifigure you unlock is totally overpowered compared to enemies. Enemies hardly do any damage to you, and have a quarter of the health you do, which results in you being able to one-hit-kill most normal enemies, even if they’re to scale with your level — Even most bosses can be killed in a matter of seconds. Most of the time I’d find myself favoring one character over all of the others, as they had a combination of attributes that made them totally unstoppable, and that just doesn’t seem to fit with the style of the game. If you’re going to have three characters to choose from at once, they should be balanced so that each character can be necessary for a specific situation. I understand that this game is more targeted towards kids, but even kids need a little challenge here and there.
Even with that being said, LEGO Minifigures Online is very addicting. Though enemies are basically as strong as paper, it’s satisfying to hack and slash through huge groups of pirates or trolls, and trying out new characters. Often times you’ll run into “Area Quests” which require you to do a certain action in a specific area of the world to gain experience and stars. These offer a bit of distraction from the main quest, and allow you to explore new areas. Each world also has its own set of little side achievements that you can complete by exploring, defeating bosses, and finding secrets. It all makes the game very enjoyable for completionists like myself.
I do wish, however, that the game was actually open ended. The levels are incredibly well designed and look nice and detailed, but the game is entirely linear. No side quests (aside from area quests, which can be completed in a matter of two or three minutes), or really any side content at all. The only example of side content are the pocket adventures, but those are just a small sprint through a hallway to a miniboss — They don’t add very much to the game other than some different places to look at, as well as minifigures.
It’s such a shame that each world is basically a big hallway; You can’t deviate from the path you’re set on at all. This, in turn, makes the game very repetitive. Very little actually changes throughout your adventures. You get a quest at the beginning of the level, complete the level, and that’s it. There’s nothing really stopping you from running straight through to the end, because you’re going to level up regardless of area quests and pocket adventures completed. You’ll always be strong enough to destroy everything.
Something I must point out is that all of the dialogue in the game is voice acted, which is a very nice touch. On top of that, the dialogue can be witty and humorous at times. While not in dialogue with another character, your characters will shout gibberish as they battle and run around in the world. This is funny at first (Hearing my Roman Commander minifigure yell in pseudo-Latin was hilarious), but it quickly gets grating, as there are few soundbites for each character, and you start hearing the same ones over and over again. I eventually had to completely tune it out of my head, because it was driving me insane.
In the end, LEGO Minifigures Online is a fun game — Much better than its original incarnation. The environments look great, the dialogue is funny, there’s tons of replay value with the unlockables and achievements, and the gameplay is good for wasting some time. It’s just such a shame that it’s so darn easy and is basically a hallway disguised as an MMO. Maybe this will be changed in an update, but for now, if you’re looking for an in depth MMO, I’d steer clear. If you’re looking for a fun, entertaining, visually stimulating, easy to pick up Diablo clone to waste some time on, give it a shot.
A code for LEGO Minifigures Online was provided for the purpose of this review