Lego Lord of the Rings
Please note: this game was played on PC, so there may be some differences across the various platforms.
i recently picked up Lego Lord of the Rings for PC since i am a longtime fan of the Lord of the Rings books and movies. i'm pleased to tell you this game does not disappoint.
The game starts out just like the films do, with Cate Blanchett as Galadriel narrating the prologue that sets up the story of the Ring and Sauron in the Second Age of Middle Earth. The player or players take control (via 3rd person) of Isildur, Elrond, and Elendil to battle orcs and eventually Sauron. Meanwhile, legions of orcs and elves do battle in the background and foreground, just like the battle scene from The Fellowship of the Ring. The game is intricately tied to the movies as fans will quickly realize, from the music and voices to the scenes from the trilogy. Lego Lord of the Rings follows the movies closely; more closely than any other LotR game, in fact.
The game can be played single player, but the real fun happens when you play with someone else. You can play online or split screen. For some reason, you can unfortunately only play with one other player, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense since there are so many characters to pick from. The dynamic split screen works well for all of the open world parts, but sometimes on the story-driven scenes, the spinning/shifting black line that separates the screens can get disorienting, especially if you're trying to make a difficult jump.
For the most part, it is an open world game that lets you explore wherever you want. Other times, the game guides you through movie-inspired scenes. The open world coop is expertly done. The two players can split up and go wherever each one wants to. Maybe you feel like exploring the Shire while riding around on your fearless sheep steed while your partner is half the world away in Gondor. The designers were kind enough to allow you to fast travel instantly to waypoint statues interspersed along the map. My only gripe with the multiplayer and open world is that all of the extra characters follow player 1 around, while player 2 is by his/her lonesome. This can create a problem if you need Gimli's ability to smash certain stones or Legolas's extraordinary gymnastic abilities, etc. and those characters are nowhere near you. If only you could divvy up the party between the two players.
Lego Lord of the Rings, as expected, is kid-friendly and the game is rated E for Everyone. The violence consists of Lego blocks breaking apart. Most parents will have a hard time objecting to that. Kids and casual gamers will have an easy time learning how to play. Controls are simple and the objectives are not overly complicated. Even the penalties for "dying" are forgiving. If you "die" you will lose a portion of the Lego bits that you run around and collect from the ground and from breaking open the destructible environments. But, even hardcore gamers will likely succumb to the charm of this little gem of a game. A multitude of achievements to earn can help with that.
The aforementioned Lego bits can be used to buy things such as new characters or new items like a Mithril trowel that any character can equip. The game has 80 playable characters from the movies as well as the books themselves -- such as Tom Bombadil. For the most part, the players will control characters from the Fellowship -- Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Gandalf, Aragorn, Boromir, Legolas, and Gimli. These characters all have unique abilities or items that can be used to solve puzzles or advance the story or find hidden items.
The visuals are an interesting mix. On one hand, you get the beautiful textures and backgrounds like you see in the movies, and on the other hand, you get blocky monochrome Lego pieces that make up the characters and various parts of the stages. It's a funny contradiction of a realistic backdrops and plastic-y graphics. But, that goes hand in hand with the game's delightful sense of humor.
Sound-wise, the game is a treat. The music in this game is directly from Howard Shore's sweeping soundtrack and is fitted to each respective scene. The voice acting, well, technically acting is superb since the most of the voice work in the game is taken directly from the lines of the actors in the films.
There are a few downsides to the game, however. One is the commercial nature of any Lego game since the logo is branded everywhere and obviously the characters are all Legos. But, that being said, also lends some charm to the game since you are basically playing with Lego toys. The controls are intuitive and quite tight, but there are still some hiccups and moments in the game where your character will inexplicably slide around on his/her butt on certain surfaces or fall to their Lego doom.
This game is fun for the whole family. Fans of Lord of the Rings will be pleased with this playful outing.
8.5 out of 10
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