The LEGO series of video games has been proved to be a popular one, taking ‘block’-buster films and giving them a comical LEGO makeover. Harry Potter, Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones and Batman have already received the LEGO treatment and now we can add Lord of the Rings to the list.
Developed by Traveller's Tales, LEGO The Lord of the Rings is based on the three films, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King. While the slapstick humour has been toned down this time around, the game still has the same charm and laugh-out-loud moments that the rest managed.
As well as quests which follow the same storylines as the films, LEGO Lord of the Rings includes boss battles. While their execution is fairly simple, they provide a welcome change to the gameplay and there’s a satisfying feeling that comes with completing them.
Familiar faces from the film all feature, with certain characters having specific roles which must be utilised in order to progress through the game. For example, the hobbits can be picked up and thrown, Legolas has a bow and arrow to shoot at long distance targets and Gimli is able to smash through special types of stone. Unlockable characters also available, there’s a great range spanning across the trilogy. Each one is well detailed and has been well created.
A first for the series is the implementation of a character inventory, which allows players to pick up and store certain items for later use. This has been well designed so that it gets frequent use and is a welcome addition to the game.
Whereas many modern titles are criticised for their short single player campaigns, this certainly isn’t the case with LEGO Lord of the Rings. Even after the fairly extensive story mode and the side quests the game offers, players will still want to replay the game in order to achieve 100% completion.
Completing the game to the maximum includes collecting Mithril Bricks, collecting all the Red Bricks, crafting every Mithril item, unlocking all the characters and achieving “True Adventurer” in every level. This is a game you won’t be finishing in a hurry.
Another significant change to the game is the open world mode, which has also been evident in other LEGO titles, is now more ... open. Prior to and after quests, players are able to explore Middle-Earth, smashing parts of the environments in order to earn studs – the game’s currency - and other unlockables in the game.
Considering the fact it’s a LEGO title, some of the game’s scenes are rather spectacular graphically. While there aren’t any breathtaking scenes as evident in the likes of the Elder Scrolls series, the game manages to retain the same charm and feel as the other games in the series. Furthermore, the range of colours on the game’s palette is quite varied, something that will appeal to the younger audience.
Another notable new feature is the use of music and voice acting taken straight from the film’s trilogy – something that hasn’t been done in a LEGO title before. Surprisingly, it works and would certainly be something that Traveller’s Tales should consider for future games.
The drop-in, drop-out co-operative multiplayer is another returning feature, allowing two players to work together locally. While the lack of Xbox Live support may come as a disappointment for a number of gamers, it doesn’t take anything away from the multiplayer, which is as enjoyable as ever.
Overall, LEGO Lord of the Rings is a precious addition to the LEGO series. The game manages to keep the same charm and humour of the previous titles, and the new features are all very welcome. If you’re a fan of Lord of the Rings, you’ll love it. If you’re a fan of the LEGO games, you’ll love it. If you’re a fan of both, Christmas has most definitely come early.