If someone were to walk up to you eight years ago and say “Hey! There’s going to be a Lego game based on those Peter Jackson movies that are based on those Tolkien books!”… you would probably call them a crazy person. But today – in the year 2012 – it probably wouldn’t surprise you too much. Since 2005’s Lego Star Wars: The Video Game, players have been bombarded with a whopping twelve (yes, twelve) Lego games. While not every one of them has met critical acclimation, that doesn’t stop players from enjoying these brick-based re-imaginings.
Then again, just because you’ve come to expect a Lego game for every franchise, that doesn’t make Lord of the Rings any less sacred. Could the transition to brick possibly do anything for Lord of the Rings fans? Or even the Lego fans? This is a tricky question to answer.
One of the main concerns many players had when this game was first revealed was that it was going to use actual sound-bytes from the movie for every cutscene. While the acting in the movie was phenomenal, there was definitely reason to be worried about the dialog being used in a Lego game. The Lego games have always been lighthearted, and this Lord of the Rings installment is no exception, but having goofy sight-gags visible in the background when a serious talk is going on just doesn’t feel right. Telling the story through gestures and facial expressions would have been a better fit.
While the decision of having the game fully-voiced isn’t so great, having the in-game camera positioned to match shots from the actual movies is brilliant. Lego bricks are all but completely done away with, as for the most part the scenery is pretty realistic looking.
Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. The gameplay is – for the most part – what people have come to expect from Lego games. Uninvolved but functional combat, character-unique skills, some light platforming, and tons of collectibles. While the formula itself is still great, some of the level design is bothersome.
It almost seems like developer Traveller’s Tales had two completely different teams working on levels that alternated each other. One of these imaginary teams being full of complete geniuses while this other team – while still very talented – could use some work. Some levels are paced near-perfectly, with the player’s tasks constantly changing. While at other times, players are asked to do the same exact actions throughout a whole level, sometimes for longer than twenty minutes. An example of this would be playing as Frodo following Gollum. You have to jump several times from platform to platform, and then put out a fire using a bucket. You will literally do this about eight times in a row. These repetitive levels are incredibly tedious, and are sort of off-putting. But while trudging through these rough spots, find peace in the fact that there are some great sections coming up shortly.
Another issue is the boss battles. While some of them function properly, I’m almost certain a few of them took me over thirty minutes to defeat. These aren’t highly involved RPG-like boss battles, but standard three-hit bosses. Each boss works similarly, you have to dodge some attacks until the boss makes itself vulnerable to your attacks. The problem is, sometimes players will have to wait ten minutes just for the boss to let you attack him. This is a frustrating flaw, and it doesn’t help that my character would sometimes freeze up, forcing me to start a boss battle over again.
It was touched on earlier, but it’s worth pointing out again that the game’s scenery is stunning. Playing on a high-end PC, the animations were all very smooth and cute, and the Lego-destruction looks better than ever. The only graphical-negatives worth pointing out are that for one, there is some very strange and seemingly unnecessary object pop-in, and secondly the depth of field setting makes everything look sort-of blurry. Besides those few complaints, this is the best-looking Lego game to date.
Multiplayer: While I didn’t get a chance to check it out too much, the co-op seems just as functional as it has been in recent Lego games. This post will be updated if any issues are found within it. But for right now everything looks fine.
While it is by no means without it’s issues, it’s really difficult not to enjoy Lego Lord of the Rings. The signature Lego gameplay works surprisingly well in the Lord of the Rings universe, and this game will without a doubt make many children (who otherwise may have never heard of it) Lord of the Rings fans. Despite it’s issues, I can’t help but recommend that everyone checks it out. With all of it’s collectibles and it’s full co-op functionality, it will surely make you feel you got your money’s worth.