Lego Lord of the Rings Review
The recent film adaptation of The Hobbit had a noticeable change of tone than the original The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Cheeky one-liners, jokes about bodily fluids, and other off-kilter touches made it feel more like a movie for children than adults. However, the folks over at Traveller’s Tales are running with this change of pace in LEGO The Lord of the Rings: The Video Game, a blocky retelling of the original series with LEGO figurines and worlds. Is this tale fun for the whole family, or has Frodo’s redesign alienated the masses?
Those not fully versed in The Lord of the Rings lore will have nothing to worry about here, as LEGO The Lord of the Rings: The Video Game (LEGO LOTR) tells the entire story from the very beginning. While some events are merely glossed over to keep everything at a brisk pace, those who have somehow managed to avoid J.R.R. Tolkien’s tale until now will have no trouble keeping up with the story. One need not worry about shaky production values either; not only does the original theatrical soundtrack return in all its orchestrated glory, every character is voiced by their respective actor – right down to Elijah Wood’s never-ending whining as the frightened Frodo Baggins.
But how does the LEGO brand affect LEGO LOTR? While there are a number of little touches made to reflect the wonderful world of LEGO, it ultimately comes down to its sense of humor. What would normally be a serious battle is made humorous through visual gags, giant plastic swords and shields, and a ring bigger than Frodo’s head. While not everything in the world of Middle-Earth has received the blocky treatment, there are enough studs and platforms to make players feel like they are playing with plastic.
Of course, those who have played a LEGO-themed licensed game before will know exactly what to expect in LEGO LOTR. Much like the outings of Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, and even Batman, the world of LEGO LOTR is less about building and more about puzzle-solving. While there are a number of action segments that force users to fire magic at Saruman or take down a Balrog, many of these fights devolve into mashing the one attack button ad infinitum, waiting for an opening, and following the button cues. While death can happen, the fact that there are infinite lives and next to no repercussions for biting it eases the tension to the point of battle feeling more like a nuisance.
Rather, much of the game comes from figuring out the tasks at hand. Each character has a different ability that he or she can utilize a skill of one of the 74 characters in the game. The puzzles are ridiculously easy, with the game outright telling you what to do and even what buttons to press if enough time passes. However, being designed for a younger crowd, the straightforward nature of the game (and its giant blue arrows) makes sense.
While the game proper can be finished in about six hours, the downright OCD level of unlockable content is still alive and well here. Not only are many of the aforementioned 74 characters under lock and key, there are also a number of side quests that you can do between missions. Paired with hidden gold chests and studs-a-plenty, and the shelf life of this game easily triples. It’s just a shame that online co-operative play is unavailable, but those who do have a friend nearby can enjoy the entire campaign via split-screen play.
LEGO LOTR plays it safe with both the LEGO and The Lord of the Rings licenses, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Both are timed-honored classics, and this title manages to stay true to its source material without rocking the boat too much.
After all, nobody wants another snot-filled troll on their hands.