I’m a huge fan of the LEGO games and have played through many of them in their entirety - notably the STAR WARS titles, and the first INDIANA JONES games. I attempted the HARRY POTTER versions, although I never found completely found my footing with those. I flat-out loved the LEGO BATMAN franchise - which represents the Gold Standard of LEGO console games as far as I’m concerned. I’m smitten with their inventiveness, their style, their sense of humor. They’re clever...JUST challenging enough without becoming unwieldy...and sometimes they’re juts plain cute. The LB games also provided a stunning entree into video games for my almost six year old, whose penchant for SUCCESSFUL gaming has caught even a number of accomplished gamers off guard. It’ll be interesting to see what this unexpected talent develops into as we move forward.
All things considered, I was giddy to learn of the release of LEGO LORD OF THE RINGS. In a paradox I still can not figure out, the game is fueled by a majority of the film trilogy’s critical plot points...but still manages to feel breezy and, at times, almost too short. Many of Tolkien’s beloved characters are playable here - once my above-mentioned son figured out how to play as LEGO Sauron, the jig was pretty much up and much smiting did occur. LEGO Gollum also captured our hearts...
...his batshit crazy personality perfectly captured here by flailing movements which occasionally evoked a demented monkey. Or an AICN staffer.
In the same way the game sometimes feels a touch abbreviated, it often doesn’t feel as complex or gargantuan as something like, say LEGO BATMAN 2 - an interesting move for an adaptation one of the grandest and most sprawling epics in literary and film history. My very strong hunch, and I have no evidence whatsoever to support this, is that LEGO LORD OF THE RINGS is very much designed to be an entry-level game - whereas something like the BATMAN titles (the second one in particular) skew towards slightly more developed audiences (the ratings on their cases are identical, by the way). And, when/if viewed in this light, LEGO LORD OF THE RINGS works very well indeed. It offers fast-paced, wholly accessible, reverently-adapted spectacle which should serve as a lovely entry point into a potentially overwhelming Tolkienverse...while also acting as an effective appetite whetter for that little Peter Jackson HOBBIT movie we’ll be getting in a few weeks.
Kudos to the decision to make LLOTR as accessible and imminently, undauntingly playable as it is. A quality which might frustrate gamers looking for a bit more meat on the bones of their games, but should work-out wonderfully for casual-to-moderate gamers, as well as those making their first tentative steps towards experiencing the wonders of Middle Earth...and beyond.
A very solid gift idea for the Holidays - or to commemorate HOBBITmania in general - LEGO LORD OF THE RINGS is now available for various platforms (XBOX 360, PS3, Wii, PS Vita, DS) HERE!
The game's official site is HERE.
[XBOX 360 version reviewed]