GAME NAME: LEGO Lord of the Rings
DEVELOPER(S): Travellers Tales
PUBLISHER(S): Warner Bros.
PLATFORM(S): PS3, Xbox 360, PC, PS VITA, 3DS
RELEASE DATE(S): 23 November 2012
If you haven’t played LEGO Batman 2 your memories of LEGO games will still be of charming games that follow similar scripts to the movies they are based on without any voice work at all. They have standard, but fun, gameplay which repeats itself throughout and an overall enjoyable experience. But the LEGO games were getting a bit stale and the exact same formula could only work for so long, Traveller’s Tales knew they had to evolve, expand and improve. Have they done that in Lord of the Rings? Let’s take a look.
LEGO recently acquired the rights to the Lord of the Rings franchise so the game was an inevitable release but with so many die-hard Lord of the Rings fans it required lots of attention instead of just being a mindless cash-in. Thankfully, the game is anything but a cash-in and will have LEGO fans and Lord of the Rings fans more than happy with the experience.
If you are new to the LEGO series (there is something wrong with you) the idea is that they recreate fictional worlds out of LEGO. Players then get control of a few of the characters, each with a different ability or two. Using these abilities players make their away across the different platforms as the story progresses. It sounds pretty simple, but there is far more to it than just that.
The world created in LEGO Lord of the Rings is unbelievably accurate in showing off the world that Tolkien created and Peter Jackson brought to life in the movies. The LEGO version has a vast inclusion of the iconic areas which Frodo and co. explore in Middle Earth. In fact, the world is so accurate that you might very well remember where certain things are and how they should look and easily locate them in the game. The only difference of course is that everything is made of LEGO, which means you can destroy pretty much anything in your surroundings to collect those prized studs.
The world is huge, as Middle Earth is, but you only discover just how big it all is once you finish the game and can traverse the open world searching for more puzzles to unlock and side quests to complete. In between the main story levels players can search the grounds within a limited space, but if you want to get the story done you can come back to that later.
The main story takes place in confined areas, much like all the other LEGO games. It follows all the factions in the Lord of the Rings as they make their way to destroy Sauron and of course the One Ring. Each level plays out like the movie, except of course with a good helping of LEGO humour, just because. If you are wondering if anything has been left out, I can happily tell you that there is nothing missing from this epic adventure.
Players will also note that the same collectibles are available. You collect studs to unlock new characters and other abilities, you can also unlock red bricks which unlock enhancers for the game. Players can search for pieces missing from the Lord of the Rings world as well as gold chests, all adding to the loot to find in the game. Lastly, LEGO Lord of the Rings requires you to find little glowing silver/white bricks. By collecting these and finding building plans you can go to a blacksmith and have new tools created. These tools are then used throughout the game to unlock puzzles that weren’t accessible during the initial playthrough.
This method common in the LEGO games means that replayability is increased. It is impossible to complete the game 100% on the first run, simply because you just don’t have all the tools needed to do so. It means that even after you finish the game you will want to continue exploring Middle Earth. Not just because it looks amazing, but because there is just so much to discover. It does not become too overwhelming as the game now includes a map and if you find a map stone it will plot everything worth noting on the map for you in that particular area so you know where to search. The addition of quests is also welcome and adds to the already excellent package.
LEGO Lord of the Rings is not all perfect though. There were a couple of bugs which can get annoying, such as characters occasionally getting stuck, requiring players to either restart the level or quickly tap in a second player to get to a different section. It was rare but did happen. The combat is also still very basic as players just hit everything with their chose weapon in 1-2 combos, with a variation here and there, but nothing to write to the Shire about. It doesn’t affect the overall game but it would be appreciated if a little more effort was given to this.
The boss battles are also a bit hit and miss. For the most part they are simple and don’t quite fit the epic proportion of everything else that happens in the game. Often the boss battles take the form of just doing the same thing three times until you take the enemy out. That said, some of the mini-boss battles have some great thought put into them and requires a bit of processing to work out. It is just a pity that there isn’t more of that.
LEGO Lord of the Rings is an astounding presentation of some of the most memorable characters, events and environments from the book. What makes the game even better is the voice acting. The lines are taking directly from the movie which means that everything feels in its place. The speeches before battles actually hit the right notes and get you excited, while the emotional moments are all in there too. A mention must be made of how accurate Gollum is, something which will go down a treat for any fans.
LEGO Lord of the Rings is probably the most serious LEGO game ever made. It isn’t without its humorous moments but they are not as frequent as previous games. This is in no way a bad thing as the game delivers best on what it should, and that is a reimagining of possibly the best fantasy story ever told. It takes us everywhere from The Shire, through the caves of Moriah, the battle of Helm’s Deep, Gondor and of course to Mordor. Nothing goes amiss.
If you are looking for a game to keep you busy through the holidays you will not be disappointed with LEGO Lord of the Rings. The sheer volume of content alone ensures that you will be playing it for a long time, while the classic moments in the game will quickly remind you exactly as to why you fell in love with Lord of the Rings in the first place.