Lego The Lord of the Rings is the latest Lego interpretation of a fictional world developed by Traveller’s Tales. This review is based on the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
Based on The Lord of the Rings motion picture trilogy, Lego The Lord of the Rings takes players through the story events of each film with the humour that has come to be a staple of the Lego franchise. Like previous entries in the series, Lego The Lord of the Rings presents players with simple puzzles and combat in a world filled with Lego bricks. Because of the family friendly nature of the game, many scenes have been toned down with a little comic relief. This is most evident in the level in which Boromir dies, a scene that the game still manages to add humour to.
The player can play with family and friends with the drop-in, drop-out gameplay option, a feature that Lego The Lord of the Rings makes excellent use of. Each level has at least two characters that can be used to solve puzzles, often this involves taking turns at using items to progress through each level. At other times the group is split up in separate areas, requiring action from one team so that the other can progress. This is where the multiplayer aspect of the game shines, as some levels can take half the time to complete when two players are working at their own individual tasks rather than one player having to switch constantly between the two teams.
Outside of the story sections of the game, the player is free to explore Middle-earth. While this can be enjoyed between levels, the majority will be done in the post-game when players have access to the whole cast of characters from the story, as well as any that have been unlocked in their travels. In addition to finding mithril bricks by destroying objects, players are often offered quests by NPCs dotted around the map. The quest giver will reward players with either mithril or red bricks in exchange for an item that is either found while traveling, or created at the blacksmith.
The blacksmith is a feature that is unique in the Lego franchise. Blacksmith plans can be found in levels or dotted around the would map. Once a plan has been obtained, the item can be created for an amount mithril. Once an area is completed, it is unlocked for free play mode which allows any forged mithril items to be worn while replaying the area. Mithril items bestow abilities on the wearer that a player may otherwise not have access to. An example of this would be the mithril gloves which allow characters to use glowing orange handles that a strong character could have used in previous games. Finding plans and creating items gives the player a feeling of adventure and is essential for finding every last block in the game.
Graphically not much has changed from previous entries in the series, not that much needed altering. Any part of the environment that can be interacted with is made out of Lego blocks. This does make some puzzle solutions obvious, but can help younger players. Some blocks require special characters or items to use, but the colour or effect on the blocks make it obvious which character is required to use them. The game is not afraid the throw many models onto the screen at the same time. Some areas have many orcs running around the screen at the same time to give a suitably epic feeling that one would expect from a Lord of the Rings tie-in.
Lego The Lord of the Rings brings the soundtrack from the trilogy, along with the voices of the cast of the films. Previous Lego games have replied upon facial animations and visual comedy to convey the story to the player. This trend has only been broken recently with release of Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes which included full voice acting for its cast. The cast of the films have not been called upon to record dialogue for Lego The Lord of the Rings, instead the voices have been lifted directly from the films to be used in the game. This can at times sound a little odd when characters are talking in large open areas, but overall adds to the immersion of the game.
In conclusion, loyal followers of the Traveller’s Tales franchise of Lego games will find another solid title to play here. Fans of the films or books may appreciate the classic story with a comedic twist. This game would make an excellent Christmas present for any young member of the family.