LEGO The Hobbit Review
Harry Potter, Batman and Star Wars are just a number of the major blockbuster film series to receive a LEGO videogame makeover. TT Games has a tried and tested formula that has worked again and again and it doesn’t look like they are stopping any time soon.
The Hobbit is the latest film series to be given a LEGO transformation but, considering it’s the third LEGO title to be released in the space of six months, is the magic of the LEGO universe wearing off or is this title another to add to your precious collection?
As you would expect, LEGO The Hobbit very closely matches the plot of the two Hobbit films, “An Unexpected Journey” and “The Desolation of Smaug”, which sees Gandalf convincing Bilbo Baggins to embark on a journey to the Lonely Mountain to reclaim treasure from the dragon Smaug.
The story is retold brilliantly using dialogue from the films, with the cutscenes containing the slapstick humour we’ve come to expect from LEGO titles. If that wasn’t enough, Christopher Lee (who plays Saruman the White in the films) lends his voice to the game as the narrator.
However, the campaign does have one major flaw; as the video game only follows the plot of two of the three films in the trilogy, the story appears to come to an abrupt end. While download content for the third film (“There and Back Again”) is expected to release in December 2014 (to coincide with the release of the film in cinemas), it’s a long time for gamers to wait for something that should have been included in the original product.
In terms of the gameplay itself, the “smash everything in sight” mentality that everyone has come to know and love over the years makes a welcome return. In addition, LEGO The Hobbit contains more combat in comparison to previous titles in the series. While it’s often a case of simply button-bashing, it provides much needed variety in the gameplay.
Another aspect of the gameplay is the collectables, as players gather studs (the game’s currency) and minikits, as well as red and mithril bricks. All of these can be used to purchase upgrades and special items to make progressing that little bit easier. It’s a well implemented system that works brilliantly.
Nevertheless, TT Games has decided to spice things up slightly with the introduction of a new collectible, which comes in the form of mining and trading materials in a Minecraft-esque fashion. Items such as copper, silver and iron can be crafted into bigger LEGO objects, which are assembled in a jigsaw-like mini-game.
Known as the instruction build, the timed mini-game has players selecting the correct piece from those listed. The mining aspect won’t provide players with too many difficulties, though it’s a welcome implementation that provides another element of diversity in the title.
Another new introduction is the Buddy-Up attacks. In previous LEGO titles, gamers have had to utilise each of the character’s unique features in order to progress. However, LEGO The Hobbit takes it to another level. This time, characters are able to team up in order to overcome enemies and certain obstacles. While it can be quite iffy at times, the newly-implemented feature encourages more teamwork, more so in multiplayer.
Once again, the drop-in, drop-out co-operative multiplayer works excellently. LEGO The Hobbit caters for up to two players locally, who must work together in order to progress. Whilst the lack of Xbox Live multiplayer support may come as a disappointment, there is still great fun to be had on one console.
As for the playable characters themselves, the game boasts a wide range, including Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf the Grey and all of the dwarves. Each character has their own unique abilities, which players must utilise at various moments throughout the game in order to progress. Moreover, each one is easily identifiable and they have all been brilliantly recreated in LEGO to match their film counterparts.
Quite oddly, the duration of the game’s levels is extremely uneven. A number of them can be completed in less than ten minutes, whereas some drag on for approximately 45 minutes. While it isn’t a major problem, it’s particularly noticeable and seems like an odd oversight from the developer.
After players have completed a level, they find themselves back in the open world, where they can travel to the next level. It’s a smooth transition that is simple, yet extremely effective.
The open world itself is very familiar, mainly because LEGO Lord of the Rings and LEGO The Hobbit are based in the same place. The instantly recognisable Bag End. Hobbiton and Rivendell all make an appearance, with the addition of new environments including The Misty Mountains, Goblin-town and Mirkwood. Each setting has been recreated well and looks brilliant in this next-generation outing.
Graphically, this is the best looking LEGO title to date. Despite the occasional blip, the detail that has gone into the character modelling and the environments is extremely impressive and is a good indication of what the Xbox One is capable of. Likewise, the use of the voice work and music taken directly from the films ensures the audio sounds epic.
Overall, LEGO The Hobbit contains some very strong features, such as the material collecting, wide range of characters and the effective co-operative play. While there’s plenty of content in the title, the incomplete story makes it feel like an unfinished product and it lacks the charm previous LEGO games have managed to pull off so well.
If you’re a big fan of either the LEGO videogames or The Hobbit series, this hybrid is worth your hard-earned cash. Otherwise, it may be one to pick up when it goes down in price.
Thanks to Xbox for supplying this game for review.