LEGO The Lord of the Rings offers one is the most beautiful and detailed versions of Middle-Earth yet.
Reviewed on the PlayStation 3 by Matthew Reynolds
LEGO The Lord of the Rings is Traveller’s Tales latest game in the series. It builds up the format of the previous LEGO games such as LEGO Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter and Batman and depending on how much you like the Lord of the Rings this could well be the best in the series.
[pullquote]Cutscenes offer a trimmed down version of the story with lots of awesome jokes[/pullquote]
The LEGO games have always had a great attention to detail. The in-game cutscenes were always reproduced shot for shot (if based off of a film) and the amount of characters were amazing and extensive. LEGO the Lord of the Rings takes this premise of detail a step further. In the older LEGO games the characters didn’t speak and the cutscenes were short and primarily there just to put some jokes in before moving onto the next mission. The recent game LEGO Batman 2: DC Superheroes, introduced voices into the cutscenes and they actually served as a great tool to tell the story of the game in a much more interesting way, of course keeping the odd joke or two.
LEGO the Lord of the Rings has moved this on again offering much longer and detailed cutscenes some of which have very few jokes in at all. The game has kept with voices for the cutscenes and have sampled the clips from the films including scenes that are only available in the special editions of the films. Whether or not this is better is really down to personal opinion, some may not see the point of reproducing the scenes from the film in a serious manor but I think that they are great as they are entertaining, clever and provide a more full experience in playing the game.
All 3 of the films are spread out into missions but in a much more continuous process than say in the LEGO Harry Potter games, where each film has separate areas. Just like other LEGO games, in between the missions are the open-world sections of the game for you to explore during and after competition of the main game, and this is one of the best ones yet. Practically the entire of Middle-Earth that we have seen is open to you to walk around and explore and complete the various activities there.
There are lots of Mithril bricks, tool and weapon designs and side quests all scattered around Middle-Earth which you need to find. The golden bricks we know from the previous games are replaced with these Mithril Bricks. These don’t just serve as things to collect but now you can use them in the blacksmith, along with the corresponding weapon and tool designs, to create tools and weapons. Along with these collectables are of course the characters who you have to find and purchase in Middle-Earth. You need to start saving your studs as there are over 80 playable characters!
[pullquote]start saving your studs as there are over 80 playable characters[/pullquote]
The missions themselves are some of the best in all of the LEGO games. They are creative and satisfying and occasionally offer some new perspectives on pieces from the films. Traveller’s Tales did well to recognise iconic moments from the films and turn them into levels. For example, the classic scene of navigating the crumbling staircase in the Mines of Moria has become part of the level and of course, nobody tosses a Dwarf!
The other fantastic addition to the game is a duel-mission concept. If you are playing multiplayer, some missions will have each player doing what are effectively two different missions, or two different parts of a mission. For example, early in the game one player plays as Aragorn and the Hobbits making their way to Rivendell and the other player is Gandalf who is involved in an epic wizard battle against Saruman. These are great, but I don’t want to give a way too many of them as they are some of the best parts. Occasionally your friend will finish their part before you leaving them to twiddle their thumbs as you continue on, but that is not too much of a problem. The Boss fights are also way better than in previous games. They are much more interesting and challenging than before, (still not too challenging it is only a LEGO game).
One of the main parts of a LEGO game was the ways in which certain characters had certain abilities vital for accomplishing a task. LEGO Lord of the Rings features one of the most complex and wide ranging character unique abilities yet: Elves can jump high, Hobbits and Dwarfs can crawl through small holes, characters with bows can shoot targets, only certain weapons can break morgal blocks, Sam can dig, Merry can fish, the list is massive which is fantastic as it gives you opportunity to use all of the 80 or so characters available and keeps the game fresh.
LEGO Lord of the Rings is absolutely brilliant. If you are a fan of the LEGO games or even just a fan of the Lord of the Rings then you have to play this. One of the interesting things I noticed when playing this is how beautiful this LEGO version of the Middle-Earth is. The artwork is primarily based upon real textures, with only a few parts that are LEGO. It is so satisfying to walk around the Shire or to stand on the plains of Rohan with Edoras in one direction and Isengard and Minas Tirith in another. The attention to detail is one of this games strongest points and there is so much to do that you will be enjoying it for hours. Best LEGO game yet.