In a bit of news that probably a large portion of the gaming community won't care about, Lego Universe will be ending this January. No, I was never a player, but for some reason, more than any MMO, this one closing has made me think the most.
I remember when the game was first announced in 2007 and I was only 13. At that time, I probably played with Legos as much as I played video games. They were sort of my thing. I don't recall having many other things that I loved as much as Lego bricks and video games. When I heard the news of Lego Universe, I was ecstatic. My two favorite things combined into an online game I could play with my friends? Even though I would have to convince them to pay and commit to a monthly fee they may only moderately interested in? (I payed less attention to this aspect at the time.) This was like a dream come true, and I spent loads of time daydreaming and thinking about LU constantly, when I should have been playing video games that are already released, or actually coming soon.
Delay after delay, the game got pushed back year after year, until it was finally released in 2010 (I think). I had touched my Lego bin less and less because I had other things on my mind, but the idea of Lego Universe still stuck with me up until it was released.
When the game finally went into beta, I was pretty excited...not in an "I can't believe I get to test this amazing game!" but in more of a nostalgic kind of way. It was a strange feeling, getting such a nostalgia rush from something I hadn't actually played back when I was younger. It was just an idea I used to get excited about, and that was it. The game I wanted for so long was...alright. And not just due to beta glitches and bugs...The game, at it's core, just wasn't that good. When it was finally released, I read a few sparse reviews online and decided that it wasn't worth my money. I'm not going to express why I didn't think it sounded good from the reviews, (That's the reviews' job, not mine) I decided not to spend my money on it.
When it went F2P, I played again, and the same annoying problems persisted, but it wasn't just that. Here I was, playing a game that I thought and daydreamed about as a younger kid to the point of practically [/i]romanticizing it, and when I actually played it, beyond the stupid little annoyances everyone complained about in reviews, playing Lego Universe wasn't as good as the idea[i] of Lego Universe.
So, after that, I again decided that it wasn't worth upgrading to a paid subscription, and ironically, the reason the game is shutting down is too many free users who don't want to upgrade.
Here I am, turning 18 in a week, and I witness this game that I couldn't stop thinking about when I was little die, and I probably never put in a total of an hour or two playtime into it.
The game was delayed for three years and only lasted two, which isn't surprising as Netdevil, the games' developer has lost another MMO (Auto Assault) due to shutdowns before. As I read the news story on Destructoid about how it's closing down, people are saying how they don't even remember this coming out, and how it seemed interesting and whatnot. The news page on Destructoid barely got any attention, and received about 6 comments posted in total. On other sites where (brief) discussion on the game shutting down, people's reactions varied from "Wait, there's a Lego MMO?" to "I remember hearing about this, but didn't even know it actually came out."
In basically every sense, this game died with a whimper. There's not a whole lot left to say really. I'm not particularly saddened, and I haven't learned a lesson or something...It just is what it is. MMOs fail often; MMOs are often handled and developed poorly, making them unenjoyable; never get excited over the idea of a game that you know nothing about; Many delays often mean the game won't be good. It's nothing we didn't already know, but I still want to acknowledge Lego Universe's end and how the game (That wasn't good and I didn't play much) affected me. So yeah, Lego Universe is gone. Oh well. It doesn't matter much; I have Minecraft now.
That title may not make a lot of sense at first, but allow me to elaborate.
I enjoy playing games as a hobby. Normally, when I play a game, I do it for a simple reason: for the simple sake of playing that game.
TF2, Ratchet & Clank, Mirror's Edge, Portal -- I play these games because I enjoy their interesting gameplay elements, story (well, TF2 would be the exception there) and unique art style.
However, when I want to play game just for relaxing, I jump right at Cortex Command.
Cortex Command is still a WIP. It has obvious problems of sloppy AI, awkward physics, and the fact that it borders undecidedly between an RTS and a side-scrolling shooter to the point it functions as neither. You die a lot for stupid reasons, and if you try to organize any sort of coordinated attack it'll almost certainly fail because of the fact that AI soldiers seem to love stepping on their guns and breaking them, rendering them defenseless, and sometimes they'll even trample each other like a bunch of untrained buffoons. Half your army will kill itself off Keystone Cops style.
This is precisely the reason I love playing this game to relax -- I don't take it seriously.
It's a game I can play and watch simple chaos. My men are dying for no glorious reason in awkward crouching positions, and so are the enemies.
If I were to try and play this game seriously, I would be yanking my hairs out by the root. However, if I want to just sit back and relax with out having to worry about actually completing an objective or developing a strategy, this is it. This is my relaxation game.
Now, I know Cortex Command has a lot of dedicated fans. I don't want to piss them off -- I'm not saying it's a bad game. It's not even finished. When it is, I fear for my social life. I won't stop playing. Ever. When it's finished and totally polished, it'll be THAT good. It'll function for me as so much more than a game of nothing but unbridled chaos to watch with wide-eyed amusement. What I AM saying, is that in it's WIP-stage, it's got a lot of issues that need to be worked out. It's because of these issues -- issues that if I tried to play it seriously would drive me insane -- that make it my favorite relaxation game.
If I were trying to progress through a storyline, or if I were trying to get some achievement that awarded me a new game mode or something, then dying because my team mate stepped on my head, or dying because a dropship that was supposed to be delivering supplies fell on me would become rapidly frustrating and I would cease having fun.
However, when I enter survival mode -- the only objective is to keep my brain module (A little glass globe that holds a brain to command all my units) alive and well, I could care less about my soldiers dying.
Because of no solid objective, what would normally be frustrating becomes entertaining.
Because I can entertain myself with mindless, hilarious chaos without having to care about winning or losing, I can easily relax by playing Cortex Command.
You may enjoy it for the same reasons I do, you may enjoy it for entirely different reasons. You may not enjoy it at all. The point is, the devs are a hard working bunch, making a really fun game and they deserve support and recognition.