RELEASE: 10/2012 | PUBLISHER: Warner Bros. | ESRB: E for Everyone
Silly? Yes, of course, the Lego franchise of video games are a bit silly. That silliness is the undeniable charm they bring to gamers. They are also very easy; there is no level you can’t pass, no enemy you can’t defeat and there is no dying. It’s world-peace in the otherwise frantic array of mature games available.
It has been years since I played a Lego title (Lego Star Wars TVC 2005 NGC) I was expecting to be floored with all the new additions to the gameplay. I may have had my hopes set too high for this one.
Being pretty eager for Vita content the trailer for this game really got me. Seeing the members of The Fellowship in their Lego incarnations was just the cute explosion I was looking for. Another compelling purchase factor was having the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy playout in one game was also another inviting factor.
There is nothing new in this title than the other 20 (or so) Lego Games that have come before it. Jump or hit, gather collectables and, at it hardest, figure which specific character unlocks a puzzle.There are really only two goals to any Lego game. Collect “studs” (the round connector parts on Lego pieces) and solve the puzzles to finish the level. Both of which leave me wanting more from the game. Studs are pretty much worthless, you can buy additional characters but nothing you won’t find on your own through the course of the story. The puzzles are very easy and thus not very rewarding either. I would suggest varying the difficulty and rewarding accordingly with additional weapons or exclusive cutscenes.
Tolkien would not be pleased with this Cliff Notes version of his epic tale. The story is condensed into short playable levels. The gameplay is also very limited. I was really hoping there would be some leveling up and character building. Perhaps maybe Gandolf would learn some magic? Nothing more complicated than simple button mashing is required.
I took interest in how they would handle some of the more violent scenes from the story. For instance, I was eager to see how Boromir’s death would be played out in game. Lego simply replaces what would be arrows in the movie with widget Lego parts for a death with little to no seriousness.
Another interesting twist happens when Gandolf falls before the Balrog. Rather than seemingly dying (like in the movies) it is more of a decent mini game where you battle the Balrog and come out victorious. Some more liberties were taken in Dunharrow (Path of the Dead) where they introduce some new characters to have a boss battle to gain the acceptance of the Army of the Dead.
Sadly the level design seemed to be taken lightly as well. Aside from the Shire, the levels were very generic in appearance. I could have been scaling the cliffs of Morder or really any rocky looking place.
Button mashing can be fun but it is rarely worth a second thought. Great for any child with an interest in the story but they would get more from actually reading the book. Better yet, take them to the Lego Store.
I don't think there will be a return journey, Mr. Frodo.