For some reason, people wonder what the deal is with Lego games. It’s like, why are they made every year and based on multiple different licenses? Why don’t they just make a solid game based on said license and not use Lego? Well, to the people who question this series of games, HAVE YOU SEEN WHAT PEOPLE HAVE TRIED AND DONE WITH THE NORMAL LICENSE?! I mean, seriously, how many bad games are there based on a license that Traveler Tale’s Lego franchise has used? How many bad Star Wars games are there? How many bad Lord of the Rings, Batman, Harry Potter, and Indiana Jones games are there in the world? At least with Traveler Tales, they give a unique experience to each of the games while being the most approachable games for parents to play with their kids. While none of the Lego games have made it into my all-time favorite games, they have made it on my list of the best games of the year, since they are good games. Today’s review of Lego Lord of the Rings shows that Traveler Tales knows what to do with two different licenses and combining them into one.
I won’t go too much into the story since EVERYONE knows it. It basically follows the adventures of Frodo and his friends to destroy the one ring and save the land before the evil and all powerful Sauron takes over Middle Earth. The plot follows the 3 Lord of the Rings movies, and a lot of it is simplified to make it easier for kids to follow. Lord of the Rings isn't the most child-friendly franchise, and I feel that this aspect has some missed-out some on potential. They could have kept the story for the most part intact and give the game a T rating. I understand why they did it, but they did cut out a lot of stuff that I would have liked to have seen done in the story. The laughs and humor are still there, but I think the story was cut up a bit too much.
The gameplay is mostly the same as the other Lego games, but it does have more open-world elements. There are side quests that you can tackle that will get you rewards for finding items or doing certain activities in the overworld. In one area, you can visit a blacksmith who can make items for you that will help you to solve puzzles or quests or make you better weapons. You can find items that you can equip your character, or special items each character can use with their already exclusive abilities. Frodo can light up dark areas, and Gimli can break apart certain areas and be tossed to hit high targets. The hobbits and smaller characters can climb through little areas to get to other locations of the level to solve puzzles or obtain collectables. Inside the individual levels, using said character’s special abilities, you will be fighting enemies while platforming and solving puzzles. You can play this game in drop-in drop-out co-op. It will take about 8 or so hours to complete the main story, but even longer if you want to 100% this game and collect all 80 or so playable characters.
Graphically, the game looks good. It is the usual Lego design, so part of the world is made of Legos while the other part is all realistic-looking. That’s fine, but like I said in my Lego City Undercover review, why isn’t the entire world made of Legos? Other than that, the graphics are solid. The music is, from the film series and it sounds epic. I especially love the music that plays in the overworld. It’s nice, soothing, and gives the game some atmosphere. The voice work is basically all ripped from the movies. As you can probably tell, almost everything is ripped from the films except for a few things. It is a solid package for a Lego game.
However, I do have some problems with this game. I feel like the story was probably too chopped up for its own good. I know it was to make it easier for kids to follow, but if the kids can follow the films, why butcher the game’s story so much? I know the Peter Jackson films are like each 20 hours long each (okay, a slight exaggeration), but a lot of scenes that I really enjoyed in the films and especially in the third film were eliminated. Quite the shame too, since there are points in the game that are a bit cinematic in style, like running away from Shelob or running through the field of Orcs to take them down with your spear. It just seems too simplified for its own good. I also never found much urge to complete the side quests to give me new items, and maybe it’s because the Lego games are already such a collect-a-thon that more collectables seem unnecessary. There is still some of the stale Lego game design in this game, like the problematic camera, which for some reason they haven’t fixed.
All in all, this is a good Lego game and one of the better Lord of the Rings games. If I had played this game before I played Lego City this year, I would have been much harsher on it. Lego City is the better game, since it fixed most of the issues that Lego Lord of the Rings and past Lego games have had. If you see it for cheap for your PS3 or 360, I would recommend it. It is still a good game, but things need to start changing for the franchise in terms of design.
This game gets a 7 out of 10.