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LEGO Digital Designer's website looks awesome. It shows you all the cool things you can build with the software, and how you can even buy the blocks and make your digital designs a reality. However, I'm not sure if this software is intended for a casual user or a design savvy pro.
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Download and InstallationRating
There is download link on the first page of the website, and for Mac it is a very simple process. Once the file is decompressed, all you have to do is open it and install. It prompts you to put it in your hard drive and presto! You can play with LEGOs on your Mac! However, the software is only compatible with OS X 10.3.9 - 10.4.6.8. So any users of an earlier version of Mac OS X won't be able to play. Sorry!
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There is a lot you can do with LEGO Digital Designer, and therein lies part of the problem. This is no fun building tool. This is serious work! It looks friendly enough when you first open it, and it does have a helpful tutorial for how to use it. But there is so much going on it can be a little overwhelming. I just want to play with LEGOs! I don't want to be an engineer!
It starts off by allowing you to choose to either free build (build something from scratch), or build using a pre-installed model. Building from a model is easiest, but they don't have that many to choose from. All of the models are either cars, trucks, planes or boats. So if you want to build something different you will have to do it from scratch.
When you go to build you are given a blank grid and a selection of bricks to choose from. However, the selection opens up into an even bigger selection of bricks and it gets a bit much. There are way too many different kinds of blocks. I can tell that LEGO went into a lot of detail for this software, but it is really annoying to find the one block you want (sort of like playing with real LEGOs!). You place the block on the grid by clicking it with the mouse to pick it up and then put it down. Once you have a LEGO on the grid, you can turn it around and even change its color. However, if you want to place another of the same brick you have to re-click the brick selection. It was a little bit annoying to have to keep doing that.
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If you really love LEGOs and want to spend a lot of time learning how to build with them on your computer, go for it. However, this is not for the casual user. This is for the serious LEGO engineer, and I'm not one. Kids might like it if they are older and like to build things. It is a good replacement for a video game, and it's free so you have nothing to lose but your time.
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While there is nothing wrong with the software, there is so much to do and learn that it makes it a bit overwhelming. LEGO enthusiast should really have a lot of fun with it. But everyone else might not be so lucky. If you'd like to give it a try, you can. But be warned it is not easy.