SAN FRANCISCO -- LEGO Universe, the upcoming LEGO-branded MMO, can best be described as "LEGO Star Wars multiplied by a million," according to Mark Hansen, the Director of Business Development for the LEGO Group.
Tentatively set for release in 2009, LEGO Universe seeks to provide gamers with "a virtual extension of the real-world LEGO" gameplay, by allowing MMO fans a chance to virtually live among each of the thousands of LEGO sets that have been created over the years.
Most impressive in this quest is LEGO's plan to integrate fabrication of objects directly into the title.
Any structure or vehicle you may construct out of the MMOs virtual blocks, you can also export to LEGO who will allow you to purchase traditional LEGO sets that are exact replicas of what you've created in-game.
The biggest hurdle to LEGO in creating LEGO Universe is the challenge of transitioning a toy designed to assist people in furthering their own creativity through multi-colored bricks.
To draw an analogue to the issue they face, it's almost a plastic brick version of what Will Wright had to do to create every title since SimCity.
According to Hansen, though, the creation system is only half of the title's design.
The game will also include a traditional MMO-style plot which reflects the barebones ideas presented in the firm's real-world brick sets: LEGO Knights vs Dragons, LEGO Sailors vs Pirates, and so on.
The title's release is roughly a year off, but Hansen did reveal the fact that the game's key trailer should hit the 'net near the end of 2008.
Certainly it is still too early to judge the game entirely, but as long as LEGO maintains their trademark attention to detail and appeases the rabid fanbase they've created in the preceding 70 years, LEGO Universe could be the Wii of MMOs; It certainly bucks trends, but it does so with such confidence that players may very well adore a fresh take on the stale, overcrowded genre.