Epic franchises have been doing crossovers for years. It was only a matter of time before the team behind The Lord of the Rings movie franchise took notice of the success of other film blockbusters like Star Wars, Harry Potter and Indiana Jones and how well they all did when they met the LEGO world. Not only did the toys sell, but their video games were all certified hits. LEGO The Lord of the Rings promised to again do something never before done in a LEGO crossover.
Unlike LEGO Batman and its sequel which were original stories, LEGO The Lord of the Rings took the path of Star Wars and put the entire film trilogy and its most epic encounters into LEGO form. Unlike Star Wars though, LEGO The Lord of the Rings included actual voiceover taken directly from the film. That means the most iconic scenes, though given LEGO twists and humor in many cases, have the authentic audio from the movies. Hearing LEGO Gandalf utter, “You shall not pass” to the Balrog is unexpectedly still incredibly powerful even though, for all intensive purposes, it’s a toy saying it.
It is surprisingly that seeing toys play through these incredibly serious moments actually holds the weight and intensity as one would hope they did to pay proper respect to the films. While Star Wars had its share of light hearted moments, The Lord of the Rings had many more dire and serious elements but still manages to translate well into the LEGO world. There are some times though it does fall short like when (SPOILER for a 11 year old movie franchise and even older book) Boromir dies in his defense of Frodo. It is a little hard to take his death seriously when his dot eyes are replaced with black X’s and he drops down the waterfall similar to a ping pong ball.
While the story is followed pretty much spot on, there are added quests in the game’s open world for players to take on. These are various side quests that reward players with Mythril for crafting. Many are menial fetch quests given to players by NPCs never seen in the movie.
The game’s crafting is an interesting edition as players search out both materials and schematics as yet another collectible for players to go through the game a second time in Free Roam mode. Free Roam mode encourages players to explore literally every nook and cranny of each level to make sure no bricks are left unbroken.
Between the cheat enabling Red Bricks, Mythril, Treasure Chests and Schematics, there is a lot of content for players to accomplish. Many of these tasks though are somewhat repetitive, like heading to a destination and fetching an object for the NPC. Others are timed challenges like smashing statues or racing through checkpoints in a set timeframe.
The combat gameplay is one of the weaker portions of the game. It revolves around button mashing the attack button and occasionally shooting arrows. Boss battles are restricted to waiting for the boss to work themselves into a trap before finally being able to damage them.
The platforming and puzzle solving gameplay are the game’s strongest aspects though trying to figure out the correct pathways to get a group of characters from points A to B using the individual powers like Legolas’s archery and jumping abilities in combination with Gimli’s pint size and powerful axe.
The visuals of LEGO The Lord of the Rings are an interesting contrast. The backgrounds and environments feel almost as impressive as what you’d expect to see in the movies with a fully cinematic feel. But then you see the destructible and interactive structures and characters which are full on LEGO. There is a stark difference between the two that is almost impossible to miss.
and the Short (Get it? Because they’re Hobbits… Nevermind)
Ultimately, if a player is looking just to experience the story of The Lord of the Rings again, they can get it from LEGO The Lord of the Rings but there aren’t any real groundbreaking gameplay moments that make it stand out. The addition of the original voice cast from the movie doesn’t do much to make it different from past LEGO games.
Because many older players have already experienced the films, they aren’t going to get much from the LEGO jokes that are much subtler than they have been in past games like LEGO Star Wars that didn’t adhere as closely to the film trilogy by using the actual audio from the films. For someone new to The Lord of the Rings getting themselves pumped for The Hobbit though, it may be a good fit.
XBox 360 (Also available on PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii)
Developer: Traveller’s Tales
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment