LEGO games have become quite the staple in this current generation, bringing together long time gamers and the often maligned casual gamers in a way other games haven’t been able to do. Simply because they are instantly accessible, but without being too dumbed down. They appeal to nearly everyone.
Many major franchises have been given the LEGO treatment, with Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, Pirates Of The Caribbean, Batman and possibly the biggest franchise of them all, Star Wars. Now it is the turn of Lord Of The Rings and whilst the core appeal of LEGO games remain, this has become somewhat of a slight change in direction.
Players will still move through various levels based on famous moments from the films, smashing and collecting as they go, but the hub world is now the most stunning ever seen in a LEGO game. Middle Earth in LEGO form is just a joy to see. Fans of the books and especially the films will instantly recognise the different areas and there a plenty of little nods to the lore of Middle Earth. It has been said before about LEGO games, just how wonderful they look and again here the same is true, one of the best looking games of a generation. Not because characters and locations are looking as realistic as possible, but because the care and attention that has gone into making a fully fledged world look just the way it should, using the mix of LEGO pieces and some fully rendered areas. The balance is just right.
Gameplay remains as pick up and play as always, however the opening level is a bit of jump into the deep end. It will throw you off slightly, as you take on a big boss early in the game, needing to switch between characters to lure him in and get the right attack. Whilst long time gamers will be able to get through this relatively pain free, it can be difficult for certain co-op partners. It is a short opening though and pretty soon it starts to feel like any other LEGO game.
Another new addition is how side quests are implemented. It feels almost like Travellers Tales have spent the year playing plenty of Fallout, or Skyrim and decided that would work well in a LEGO game. It does, it adds a lot of longevity to a game that already has hours of play. Now you can navigate the world hub and be given mini quests that have no baring on the main quest, these will then reward with bonuses and unlocks in the form of new characters, red bricks, etc. It still keeps within the spirit of previous games, but the change is more than welcome.
Again as with previous LEGO titles, a deep knowledge of the story previously is not all that important, but for those who are knowledgeable, there is plenty of amusing and recognisable moments littered throughout. Voices, which first made an appearance in LEGO Batman 2 are back for Lord Of The Rings and once again add to the overall experience, that fear of doing such a thing ruining the charm can now be put to bed. It isn’t dialogue heavy, but the little cues fit in really well. Looking back, dialogue wasn’t as important to a Indiana Jones, but such is the more complex nature of a Lord Of The Rings, it would be easy to get lost with the story without it.
It may be possible to fly through LEGO Lord of the Rings’ eighteen stages in a couple of sessions, but that isn’t what these games are about. They almost beg you to play through again and again, completing each and every one to 100% and here again this is no exception, there is easily twenty plus hours of pure fun top be had. With the only downfall being how achievements are handled.
Whilst most are achievable in co-op, there are still a fair few that can only be done by the lead profile. Which is a shame when playing in co-op is the perfect way to approach a game like this. In fact, Gamestyle haven’t played a LEGO game in single player in who knows how long. It is lucky then that they are so fun to play, as you’ll be completing it all over again with a friend, or family member as the lead profile.
Co-op is again limited to local only with no online option available. Whilst this should really be a negative to beat the game with, it isn’t. There is a certain charm about playing this entirely locally, sitting down as a pair and working through, sharing the workload and occasionally getting into smashing battles with each other, as you go for the same objects.
There really isn’t a better feel good game on the console, that just brings gamers of all types together like this. It brings back memories of how social gaming used to be, before we had online capabilities. Being able to bring a family member into the action, whilst you still enjoy the core experience the game offers is not an easy thing to achieve, but here Travellers Tales have managed it.
LEGO Lord Of The Rings is another in a long line of classic LEGO games. It is fun and accessible. It is easy to lose an entire evening to its charms. It is the most well rounded of the LEGO titles too, whether a fan of the books or films, or not. It is one game to rule them all.