Posted on November 20, 2012 AT 02:06pm
I admit I am a fan of the Lego games. They have always been entertaining as well as a nice game that anyone in the family could play. Okay, I will also admit Indiana Jones was not my favorite but the rest of the games have been great. There has always been a formula to the games, this continuity of gameplay that makes each game familiar yet different…then came Batman 2. Traveller’s Tales turned the Lego game genre on its ear but creating and expansive open world Gotham City that players could explore. Hold on to your hats, The Lord of the Rings knocks that out of the park.
Lego The Lord of the Rings is immense. There are so many new little features in this edition of the Lego game genre and that it can be a little overwhelming at first. Gone are the days of running through the story and returning for free-play or to do little extras and get all the achievements. Nope, you are going to have to work for it this time and harder than you had to work in Batman 2. Of course there is the main story and free play but now, there is so much more. You want those awesome red bricks? You will have to complete missions for NPC characters in Middle-earth to earn them. Oh wait, they need to to make something for them from mithril, that means you will have to find these hidden bricks or complete story missions to earn them. Now you have the blocks but how do you make those gloves that NPC asked for? Now you need to find the blueprints so you can take them to the Blacksmith, whom you also must discover, and have them made. Now this might sound tedious but honestly, it isn’t and those mithril items you have crafted stay in your “treasure chest” for you to use as needed in free-play and during certain story missions. That means you no longer have to rely on a single character for something as simple as a rope. All of these little “extras” adds significantly to the replay value. You will spend many hours playing the main story and many more trying to complete all the side missions.
Lego The Lord of the Rings introduces a new map concept. Now instead of having one area, the map is divided into several key locations, because lets face it, Middle-earth is huge. In each location is a Map Stone. Once you activate a Map Stone, the general locations of hidden items/quests are revealed and you can now fast travel to that location from other areas in Middle-earth. This might seem like a small thing but when you see how expansive the Middle-earth area is, you will appreciate being able to fast travel to that Blacksmith.
Gameplay is pretty standard for a Lego game. You have a mission, you break enemies into brick piles, break up brick environment, collect studs to become a True Adventurer, and find solutions to the puzzles within the mission. This time, though, the puzzles can be more challenging and Boss Battles are not as straight forward as they have been in the past. They can require you to use multiple characters through different battle steps and it is not always clear from the start what your plan of attack needs to be. Personally, I found this a welcomed change. It was nice to not be spoon fed everything. A big chance to the way the story is played is due to the way the books were written, you will end up playing multiple storylines simultaneously. The party gets separated in the books, as do they in the game, so you will literally be switching between groups while actively playing the story mission. It was masterfully done and it must have been difficult to achieve that balance.
As in Lego Batman 2, the characters were once again given voices rather than pantomiming scene sequences. The really awesome part, this time they used the dialog directly from the Lord of the Rings movies. There is nothing quite like looking a Lego Galadriel and hearing Cate Blanchett. It was done shockingly well too. You didn’t feel like the dialog was mismatched to the scene, almost as if they voiced it just for the game itself. The background music is all straight from Peter Jackon’s masterpiece as well. It helps keep you in the Lord of the Rings experience but adds a sense of whimsy since you are listening to epic instrumental pieces from this larger than life movie…but you are a small brick character breaking other small brick characters.
The story takes players through abridged versions of all three Lord of the Rings books. The major content and plot points are present though much of the story is glossed over for obvious reason. If Traveller’s Tales included everything, they would have 3 separate, extremely long, games on their hands that people might get bored with. Personally, I would have enjoyed longer games even if they were released individually but I also know that is probably not what the majority of players would want. The scenarios they did pick to include are well chosen and I had no trouble following the books’ plot lines in my head as I played. It was fun seeing these major events on my TV in Lego form.
All that being said, Lego The Lord of the Rings is a darker incarnation of the typical Lego game. There is much talk of killing and, tough humor is injected from time to time, it is not as present as it has been in the past. The developer’s did try to tone down some of the seriousness where they could, like killing a Boss with a banana sot from a bow rather than an arrow because the arrows ran out. It was obvious it was their way of trying to make the game friendlier without giving up on a major plot line thereby angering fans of the Lord of the Rings series. As a parent, I can appreciate their efforts and can understand why they did it. This game would be a downer to any young player if some silliness wasn’t present.
Normally, I’d say the Lego games were easy for players of all ages but The Lord of the Rings might be a little too complicated for the really young ones. They can still have fun wandering around Middle-earth whacking things but playing the story might get a little too difficult. Fortunately, drop-in/drop-out co-play is still there so if they insist on trying, you can jump in and help them out. Expect to do this frequently though.
Lego The Lord of the Rings is a great addition to any game library, a wonderful addition to the Lord of the Rings Universe, and well worth spending money on. Suspend any preconceptions you have about Lego games being for kids. This is not a kiddie game. It’s a masterpiece of fun.
The Good: Ridiculously fun, great audio/visuals, high replay value
The Bad: Might be difficult for very young players
The Ugly: N/A
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