LEGO The Lord of the Rings

Like LEGO? Like Lord of the Rings? Like finding a bunch of collectables? This is the game for you.

It's been a fairly light couple of months for me and gaming. I've been going strong with a series of videos in GTA V, but I haven't had a huge amount of time for anything besides work (hence why my blog hasn't been updated). As a result, I am currently sitting on a backlog of close to 40 games that I simply haven't got round to playing yet. Several are a part of Microsoft's Games with Gold promotion, and the rest are games I've missed out on over the last console generation and have been on sale, usually for less than £5 each.

But anyway. LEGO The Lord of the Rings. Yep, it's a kids game. But I've played just about every LEGO video game there is and I wasn't about to stop with this one. It's actually not that bad.

With respects to the look of the game - it's kinda blocky. But that's to be expected from a LEGO game. One thing I am slightly disappointed with is the lack of LEGO models that are used as a background. More often than not, huge amounts of the environment are rendered like normal in any other video game, and the presence of a LEGO objects immediately tells you that you have to interact with them. In that sense, it's almost too easy; break the blocks and build the object - but, as I must keep reminding myself, it is a kids' game.

My biggest issue with the game is the choice the developers made to include lines from the movies as spoken dialogue. In my opinion, part of the charm of older LEGO games was the lack of voice the characters had and the physicality of them. It just feels a bit like a rip off. The music is taken from the Lord of the Rings films, but this generally works due to the broad association with it. I do find myself increasingly playing the game on mute and watching a film or listening to a podcast at the same time, since the audio is not the strongest part of the game.

What is the strongest however is the gameplay. To progress through the 18 mission, you have to solve a series of puzzles consisting of LEGO bricks, using the different abilities of the characters (Frodo can light up dark places, Sam has a spade, etc). These are all fairly simple to do, as it is a kids game, but occasionally I would forget what different characters do, especially once the Fellowship is formed, and there are 9 characters on screen. To get around this, there are unlockable items that can be found in the levels and crafted from a toolbox that every character has, so if you have it unlocked, you don't have to spend ages cycling through all the characters.

The game world itself is very impressive. It forms a scaled down version of Middle Earth, and it is entirely possible to walk from Hobbiton, right into Mordor. In between there are scaled versions of locales you will recognise from the films, like Rivendell and Helm's Deep. There's also a load more quests and puzzles to solve if you haven't had your fix from the main story missions. The only disappointing this is the lack of LEGO environments.

As with most LEGO games, there are a huge number of collectables. Most of them involve solving a puzzle to get them, but there are a few hiding in plain sight. Anyone who is familiar with LEGO games will know that you have to collect MiniKits, hidden in each level. In addition, there are Mythril bricks that form the basis of crafting in the game, and act as an indication of completion (250 means you've unlocked pretty much everything). Neither are particularly difficult to find, especially when you unlock a detector for each of them, which conveniently adds an arrow to guide you to where they can be found.

Achievement are as you would expect from a LEGO game. One for completing each story mission, complete all of the various tasks needed to get 100%, and a few relating to stuff from the films (like simply walking into Mordor). Generally all pretty easy to get, just time consuming and a bit boring.

Overall, LEGO The Lord of the Rings does a good job of retelling the story of Peter Jackson's film in LEGO form. It's quite a good game, however if you have played several LEGO games before, as I have, you will find yourself doing a lot of the same stuff again. Personally, I feel it was a mistake to include dialogue, but it is a minor issue as I rarely played the game with the audio on. If you're a Lord of the Rings fan, looking for a quick game to get some gamerscore in, or you have young children, this game will keep you entertained for several hours. It's nothing new, nothing hardcore, but a solid game in the LEGO franchise.