‘Lego Lord of the Rings’ Review!
The Good:Fun, epic adventuring and loyal movie tie-in
The Bad:I want 'Travellers Tales' to make a 'Lego Hobbit' now!
STORY If you don’t know the storyline for the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy by now, then shame on you! Only kidding, but seriously if you are new to the ‘Lord of the Rings’ franchise, then I urge you to either read of books from ‘J. R. R. Tolkien’ or the amazing films from ‘Peter [...]
If you don’t know the storyline for the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy by now, then shame on you! Only kidding, but seriously if you are new to the ‘Lord of the Rings’ franchise, then I urge you to either read of books from ‘J. R. R. Tolkien’ or the amazing films from ‘Peter Jackson’ or even better read and watch both, they are both truly amazing.
The story is very long and detailed, so I’ll give you the quickest recap that I can. Powerful rings were made for the Man, Elves and Dwarves, the barer of each ring for that species would dominate that particular species or so they thought. For the ‘Dark Lord Sauron’ forged the ‘One Ring’ that would dominate and corrupt those who wore the rings of Men, Elves and Dwarves. Man and Elves formed an alliance against the ‘Dark Lord Sauron’ who has his finger that was baring the ring cut off, which resulted in ‘Sauron’ losing his physical form.
‘Isildur’, the man that cut ‘Saurons’ finger quickly became over powered and corrupt by the ring and claimed it as his own, betraying those that fought alongside him. But ‘Isildur’ was betrayed by the ring and killed by ambushing ‘Orcs’ and then the Ring was lost in the ‘River Anduin’ for more than two thousand years. The ring was then found by a simple folk know as ‘Sméagol’, who instantly fell under the rings spell and he killed his friend to gain possession of the ‘One Ring’. Banished to the ‘Misty Mountains’, the ring corrupts and transforms ‘Sméagol’ into a creature that would be known as ‘Gollum’ and he names his ring, his “precious”. Then following an adventure from a Hobbit known as ‘Bilbo Baggins’, he comes across the ring by chance (or so he thought) and ‘Bilbo’ takes the ring back to his home village of the ‘Shire’.
Upon all this activity the ‘Dark Lord Sauron’ is aware of the rings presence and he is aware that it is in the possession of ‘Bilbo Baggins’. ‘Gandalf the Grey’, who is a noble and mighty wizard has suspicions of the rings true identity and advises that the ring be taken away from not only ‘Bilbo’, but also the ‘Shire’. The ring must be taken to and destroyed at ‘Mount Doom’, which will be a long and very dangerous journey. ‘Bilbo’ is already becoming corrupt by the ring and this journey would simply be too much for him to handle and he would become lost in its power, much like what happened to ‘Sméagol’. The ring is inherited to ‘Frodo’, the adopted son of ‘Bilbo Baggins’. ‘Frodo’ along with his close friend ‘Sam’ and his two cousins ‘Merry’ and ‘Pippin’ embark of the most dangerous journey a hobbit could ever make, not only must they fight those that crave to take possession of the ‘One Ring’, but they must fight the rings strong corruption and destroy the ring once and for all at ‘Mount Doom’.
How can a concept that looks so simple, look so good at the same time? That’s the question that I’ve always asked myself with the Lego games, ‘Star Wars’, ‘Indiana Jones’ etc, looked good, but they were all very familiar at the same time. Then along came ‘Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes’ and that raised the bar for the Lego gaming franchise in many aspects and that includes the visuals. Back when I reviewed ‘Lego Batman 2’, I asked myself, how will they top it and ‘Lego Lord of the Rings’ would have a tough act to follow and that remains true, but somehow ‘Lego Lord of the Rings’ has raised the bar even further. ‘Middle Earth’ looks stunning and it craves for you to explore its beautiful and wondrous world, the ‘Shire’ is as pleasant and welcoming as you would expect, the battle fields are epic and full of action and miniature Lego men flooding the screen (with no slow down) and ‘Shelobs’ lair is almost as creepy as it is in the ‘Return of the King’. Now I know that sounds strange to say that Lego game is creepy, but somehow ‘Travellers Tales’ have achieved this and still managed to maintain the signature Lego charm.
Every aspect of ‘Lego Lord of the Rings’ world is extremely well done, the textures are very well rendered and offer a perfect blend of realism and the instantly recognisable plastic blocks. There are also 80 playable characters available to you once you unlock them, even though Lego characters look very generic, ‘Lord of the Rings’ fans will instantly recognise their favourite characters. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how ‘Travellers Tales’ manage to make their games look so good, with such a unrealistic format, but they pull it off possibly better than anyone else could ever do.
‘Lego Lord of the Rings’ follows in the footsteps of ‘Lego Batman 2’ with a huge free to explore open world, apart from this time round, instead of having ‘Gotham City’ as you’re playground, you have a free VIP pass to explore the ‘Middle Earth’ theme park. Now I haven’t tried it to its full effect in danger of losing where I am on my current mission, but I’m almost pretty sure that you can wonder from location to location anywhere on the Middle Earth map during a mission. ‘Lego Lord of the Rings’ offers the kind of gameplay that you would come to expect from the Lego games, that’s not a bad thing as it would rustle too many feathers if ‘Travellers Tales’ shook things up to much in the gameplay department.
As always the gameplay is very easy to pick up and play, that’s one of the main reasons that it appeals to gamers across generations. Each character in principle is controlled in the same way, apart from they will have their own special abilities that some of the others may not have. ‘Gimli’ will have his battle axe and will be able to perform jump and smash attacks, ‘Gandalf’ will have his wizard stick and will be able to attack from far and even form a temporary protection barrier from attacks, ‘Legolas’ will have his trusty Bow and Arrow, all 80 characters will bring their own unique touch to the table. As a whole ‘Lego Lord of the Rings’ will play as we all know and love, but there was one particular gameplay element that took me by surprise quite early on in the game. Without giving too much away, there was one scene that actually involved some stealth tactics when avoid the evil clutches of the sinister ‘Ringwraiths’. In fact that particular scene had a fair amount of tension and suspense and correct me if I’m wrong, I’ve never really known that to be a part of a Lego game in the past, which I very much welcome.
All in all, ‘Lego Lord of the Rings’ doesn’t drastically change the gameplay in comparison to ‘Lego Batman 2’, but it does make slight improvements here and there and it accommodates the ‘Lord of the Rings’ theme and characters as good as, if not better than any other licensed game has in the past.
Now I know I keep going back to ‘Lego Batman 2’, but in fairness it’s difficult not to as it was a big step forward in the Lego gaming franchise in terms of gameplay and the audio. For the first time ever in the franchise ‘Lego Batman 2’ introduced real and script read voices to the characters, many purist were not happy with this direction, but for me I welcomed it as it added a new dimension in its story telling.
So along comes ‘Lego Lord of the Rings’ and rather than having a fresh new script, sound samples and dialogue was taken directly from Peter Jackson’s trilogy. One this probably saved the developers a lot of leg work and two, it made the gaming experience as authentic and true to the movie adaptations as it could possibly be. So when you hear ‘Gollum’ say his famous words “My precious” it is the exact same sample that you would hear in the movies. The authenticity doesn’t just stop with the dialogue; the soundtrack is what you hear in the movie trilogy, the battle cries in the final showdown from the Battle of Morannon at the Black Gates of Mordor, straight through to the narrative voice of ‘Galadriel’. The audio is arguably the most authentic element from what is arguably the most authentic movie based tie in you will ever get to play
The Lego games have always offered a good amount of replay value and ‘Lego Lord of the Rings’ is no exception, there is always something to encourage the gamer to come back for more. During your first playthrough there will be many moments when you can across certain objects that you can simply not reach, no matter how hard you try. But as you play through the game, you will unlock and purchase new characters, each coming with their own personal abilities. Then also once a mission is complete, you will be able to replay that mission with ‘Free Play’, giving you the opportunity to go back in with any characters of your choosing. Now of course depending on what characters you pick (hopefully with a strategic purpose), you will finally be able to reach those previously unreachable places as you aim to get your 100% completion.
In total as it stands, once unlocked there will be 80 playable characters in Lego Lord of the Rings, which is a very impressive figure to say the least. Whether that total will increase with future DLC, remains to be seen, but if in-game main menu and ‘Lego Batman 2’ is anything to go by, we will certainly be seeing DLC at some point. Of course with the huge amount of unlockables and some great co-op action, there is certainly plenty of reasons to done the battle field of Middle Earth for many more adventures to come.
Yet again when I thought ‘Travellers Tales’ couldn’t do anything more with the Lego franchise, along comes ‘Lego Lord of the Rings’. In essence the core gameplay remains as it ever was with the Lego games, and then ‘Lego Batman 2’ arrived and introduced the open world to the franchise. ‘Lego Batman 2’ won back my heart with the Lego games after I thought all hope was lost, surely they couldn’t do any better? Wrong! One of the very few ways in which ‘Travellers Tales’ would be to win me over with a franchise that I loved more than ‘DC’ and they did just that with ‘Lord of the Rings’, now the only way they could top this for me, would be ‘Lego Transformers’ (hint, hint Travellers Tales).
‘Lego Lord of the Rings’ is simply epic, everything from the voice cast, settings, and soundtrack is faithful to the ‘Peter Jackson’ trilogy, as was ‘Peter Jackson’ faith to the ‘J. R. R. Tolkien’ novels. If you’re not a game, then I would be extremely surprised to find you reading my review, but if you’re a gamer that loves the Lego games or the ‘Lord of the Rings’ franchise, then like I, you are going to love this game. ‘Lego Lord of the Rings’ is the most charming, loyal, immersive and most epic Lego game yet and this should be on every gamers 2012 Christmas list.
‘Lego Lord of the Rings’ Review!,