The LEGO series of titles have been favourites in the gaming world for so long now with various movie franchises being created in pixel form. Be it Star Wars, Harry Potter or Batman to name but a few. Does LEGO The Lord of the Rings follow the same path, or does it end up falling face first into Mount Doom? Read on to find out.
Game: LEGO The Lord of the Rings
Developer: Traveller’s Tales
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Like other LEGO titles that have been released, LEGO Lord of the Rings sticks to the original story that has made the trilogy a huge success from not only the books, but the film adaptations as well and adds a huge chunk of humour to the mix. Anyone that is familiar with The Lord of the Rings trilogy and has read the books or seen the movies, will know exactly what to expect here, but for those that don’t, let me try to explain briefly. The inhabitants of Middle Earth join to save themselves and each other from the enslavement from Sauron. Many centuries previously, Saufron forged a Ring, placing much of his ability and power into it, to control a series of lesser rings, elves, dwarves and men.
Just like the previous games in the series, LEGO The Lord of the Rings follows tradition and is a beautiful game to look at. Not only does it feature all the characters from the original book and movie trilogies, but they look brilliant in LEGO form. Each character is replicated in the famous LEGO look and feel and are detailed fantastically well and straight away, you can identify each character instantly thanks to the superb amount of effort and time that has clearly been spent on recreating the like of Baggins, Gandalf and Legolas to make them as recognizable as their real-life counterparts. Not only do the featured cast look great, but the whole universe that the game is set in does as well. Previous titles in the series have always had a huge amount of polish, but LEGO Lord of the Rings has upped this even further with even more detail and gorgeous looking environments that push the game in the looks department to another level. The whole premise of The Lord of the Rings has been captured brilliantly here and it really stands out and screams beauty once you associate various sections that you have seen in the movie like Mount Doom (which is recaptured in all its stunning glory). If its charm that you are after, then you are in the right place as this is full of it. One slight downside though is that at times, screen tearing appears during random sections of the game but thankfully, this isnt that big of a deal as its not a frequent occurrence.
Just like the graphical side of LEGO The Lord of the Rings, the sound and the overall audio generally is incredible. Not only does the game feature sound effects that have been present throughout the LEGO series of video games, but to improve the audio even further, for the first time in any LEGO title, audio that has been captured from the motion picture, has been used for character voicing and has been taken directly from scenes in the movies and implemented into the game through audio clips and it gives the whole sound and presentation an authentic feel that we have never seen before in the series. What this means is that, for Frodo and Gollum for example, you will hear the original clips from the film during cutscenes in the game. Previous LEGO titles were very good in the sound department but this really does step it up and you realise when playing, just how much it improves the whole game by having an extensive range of dialogue that featured in the movie adaptations placed straight into the game that you are playing. It might sound like nothing, but once you start to experience it firsthand, you realise just how great it is and how much it adds to the whole experience.
The core gameplay side of LEGO The Lord of the Rings is very familiar to that of previous incarnations in the series and unless this is your first dive in to the series, you will be accustomed to whats on offer here. The classic, smashing blocks, collecting, swapping to various characters for different abilities to help you progress and building various puzzle based sections are still here in their droves but thats not to say its a bad thing as this is what makes the LEGO title a huge amount of fun in their own right. Once you have completed a level or a section, you then have the option to retry the same section of the game to pick up and complete any side missions or hidden bonuses you might of missed first time around.
Apart from the standard and familiar parts of the series in the core gameplay elements, LEGO The Lord of the Rings features a full interactive environment that doesn’t see you having to wait for certain sections that you want to travel to, to load. Everything is open and can be reached by using the in-game map where you can set markers to get you from point a to point b. While this would have been a bit of a drag and a chore if the whole universe was bland and empty, its far from that and there is always something along the way for you to collect or attempt a puzzle to receive a reward. This is something that the developers should have a huge amount of credit for as its an addictive and vast landscape that would see you lost for hours on end due to its addictive and wonderful nature. There really is a huge amount of side quests and other niceties for you to find scattered all around. Each of the characters found within the game offer you something different to the next. Legolas has the ability to use a bow, Gollum has a climbing ability while Gimli is a strong and powerful character that can smash through almost anything with ease with his trusted axe. What’s clever as always with the LEGO titles is that each character adds a different dimension to the next and gives the whole premise its feeling of achievement and satisfaction.
However, what really makes the titles in the series stand out, is the fantastic humour that is chucked in and this is no exception either. While the game (for the most part) has a mature and serious tone so that it sticks to the original story, the timing and delivery of the humour really is something special indeed and done with such a charm and facetious delivery, that its almost impossible to laugh at. Its all about the timing and this is done with perfection yet again. One slight niggle that occurs during gameplay sections is when there are quite a few selectable characters on screen at any one time and the game can become a little confused and clustered at times. Small issue, but it does make an appearance at times.
If you thought that sitting down with The Lord of the Rings trilogy box set and watching all three films back to back was long enough, then you are in for a bit of a shock here. The main story missions can be completed around the 6-8 hour mark but there is so much more the game can offer you with the huge amount of side quests, rewards scattered all around, upgrading and the option of adding more players to drop-in. I’m currently on 25+ and I’m still finding new avenues to explore and traverse through. The amount of content that is here is staggering and if you like to sit down and complete everything 100%, then you are in for a serious amount of game for your buck. If you’re after value for money, LEGO The Lord of the Rings is defiantly a great buy for that reason alone. Such a huge amount of content that is at your disposal from day one.
LEGO The Lord of the Rings is a breathtaking title that is an unbelievable achievement in itself. Not only is the game charming and cute, it’s great fun. It has some slight annoyances, but that doesn’t detract from the overall enjoyment. Even if you didn’t enjoy The Lord of the Rings as a movie, the game will hit you with its charisma and keep you entertained until the end.
Is this the best game in the LEGO series? In this humble reviewer’s opinion, yes, without a shadow of a doubt, and that’s some achievement with so many great titles in the illustrious franchise. It’s a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously and, as a result, ends up being one of the best titles released of the year. If you want a brand new title to enjoy during the holiday period and beyond, then LEGO The Lord of the Rings is sure to please, my precious.