Lego Digital Designer gives users the chance to play with Legos without paying for Legos. Loaded with features, the drawbacks are minor and this program is a lot of fun to use.
The program links to the Lego online store, but there's more going on here than corporate shilling. The graphics-intensive program seamlessly zooms in and out, rotates your point-of-view 360 degrees, connects bricks to each other, rotates them, and moves any hinges they might have so you can explore how your pieces fit together. Parts include basic bricks, model jet engines, and infrared sensors. The Brick Palette puts all your bricks in one basket, so to speak, so that managing them is no more difficult than keeping track of more than two dozen subpalettes that catalogue the variations.
Seventeen prebuilt models are included to help beginners. You can place your model against a cheesy 3D background, save it, take a screenshot, explode it only to have it reassembled on the next mouse click. There's an option to watch an animated guide on how to recreate whatever complex design you just built. In addition to all this, you can send your model to Lego.com to share with other Lego builders.
The user interface for Version 2 is a big improvement, although some controls could be more intuitive. The app chows on RAM, so those with older machines should be prepared for serious slow-downs if they can get the program to run at all. Still, it's a great facsimile for replicating the fun of Lego bricks digitally, and since its free, it's the cheapest Lego experience you'll ever have.