There once was a time when Lego was just a lot of little plastic bricks that you played with as a child. However recently Lego has spread its blocky tendrils into gaming, characterised by its very light hearted and often slap stick humour which has made their games different and enjoyable. My sister and I have played almost all of the LEGO games so when we heard they were releasing a game based on Lord of the Rings, we had to have it.
Normally Lego games have no vocals, instead using mime and a complex series of charades to explain the plot; in past games it has often worked surprisingly well and allowed the designers to mess around with the story, often making it more comical. Lord of the Rings is the first where the characters speak. Instead of recording their own dialogue they simply lifted it from the films; it causes one or two funny moments such as when you hear Elrond’s epic speech delivered by his little plastic avatar.
The game has by far the biggest free roam map of any Lego game; you can walk all the way from the Shire to Mount Doom, with numerous things to distract you on the way. Also the two players can split up and go to different areas so whilst I’m vandalising Helms Deep my sister can be decapitating some Hobbits in the Shire! There are a few downsides with the free roam though; firstly, when you leave Fangorn Forest, Minas Tirith, Isengard, and Helms Deep are all next to each other. Saruman and Theoden could probably have a conversation without even leaving their own cities! Another issue is that whenever you want to access the map it covers up the other player’s screen, making a right nuisance of itself.
The game has by far the biggest free roam map of any Lego game; you can walk all the way from the Shire to Mount Doom, with numerous things to distract you on the way.
The story mode is a great success. You complete a mission in the Shire and then walk to the next one somewhere else in Middle Earth. When Frodo and Sam split way from the others it creates two independent groups you can play as, and you can even bring the two sections back together, which didn’t happen in the films.
The problems with the game mainly emerge after the story was completed. After every mission you replay, you end up reappearing at the top of Minas Tirith as Frodo and Sam; you can change to your favourite characters but it’s such a pain always swapping them back. Who wants to play as Frodo anyway?!
Many of the items are totally useless, such as the flower pot hat and the musical shoes which are the most annoying thing put in a game ever, especially if a certain sister decides they are a fun thing to wear!
The bonus level is not the worst they have made, but is by no means the best; it follows the usual Lego style of trying to collect exactly one million Lego studs. By playing this level you can play as a very cool hidden character. Unfortunately it’s also pretty tedious, taking several replays to finish.
One last aspect which is annoying is the extra items you collect; to complete certain tasks you normally need specific characters but the extra items can allow any character to use any special ability. The trouble is the menu has at least 50 items on it so you spend ages going through looking for the right one. Many of the items are totally useless, such as the flower pot hat and the musical shoes which are the most annoying thing put in a game ever, especially if a certain sister decides they are a fun thing to wear!
To finish off, the game is very good and probably one of their best. At the same time though there are many features that were poorly thought out and slightly spoil the game. Despite this I still like it and would recommend it to those who like a laugh.
Image: marvelousRoland via Flickr