Fact (not really a fact). There have been a thousand LEGO games released since 2012! Whilst that isn’t really true, it certainly feels like there have been a constant stream of new LEGO games, with The Hobbit being the third since the release of Next-Gen consoles in November 2013, following on from LEGO Marvel Superheroes and The LEGO Movie Videogame.
In general LEGO The Hobbit follows the same recipe as previous LEGO games. Move through a central hub, find missions, smash stuff, complete mission, do more things in a central hub, rinse and repeat. But let us face it, it is a formula that works and try as we might, it is hard not to enjoy a LEGO game, regardless of the skin it has applied.
Credit where credit is due though, with LEGO The Hobbit, just like in The LEGO Movie Videogame, there are attempts to introduce a new mechanic to the series. Here it is looting, where rather than just smashing up items to build new ones, you have to collect the loot that is dropped from the various bits you have smashed up in the usual way.
Collecting these bits of loot will allow you to then build the required item at designated areas of a level, a key here, a bridge there and so on. In truth this just adds an additional level of activity without offering anything really that new, it isn’t like a Minecraft where you can use various different found materials to create something specific based on what you have and there is no real discovery, as what you need to build will nine times out of ten be covered by what you have already found.
It needs to be like that though, as if there was a chance you may not have the correct materials, the structured levels wouldn’t be possible to complete, which simply wouldn’t work for a LEGO game, as its simplicity is part of the charm. Being able to play with all members of the family, young and old, no matter their experience.
There will be times where you may not have what you need right away, but you can be sure that you will get the right parts by smashing up a bit more of the area you are in. Whilst it sounds like we are down on this as a mechanic, it is something that younger players will enjoy and something we found out first hand when playing with a young child. They liked that they had collected what they needed, or needed to explore that little bit more around the area.
But that is just it with a LEGO game, seasoned gamers may well be getting a bit of fatigue with them, but there is no doubting the enjoyment a child will get and in turn, that makes the whole experience a much more rewarding one.
LEGO The Hobbit follows the story of the books and films well and again, as with previous titles has just the right mix of faithful adaptation and creative license, the writing is done well and the humour hits all the right notes. It has the full cast of the film doing the voices for the characters, which helps bring the world to life and for those that have seen the films, it does feel like a nice extension, rather than a cheap tie-in.
As has become the norm in LEGO games, there are various quests opened up as you progress that can be played at any time from the open world hub, with these being completely optional, they do become a fun distraction from the formulaic structure of the main story progression and much like most of the recent LEGO games, it becomes a much more enjoyable experience when played in Co-op.
As with all PS4 games, this has to be Remote Play compatible and thanks to the simple nature of the controls in a LEGO game, playing on a Vita is just like playing the game natively. This again make co-op play all that much easier, as you can even play with someone whilst you are away from the home.
LEGO The Hobbit is a cross-gen game and despite the addition of remote-play there isn’t anything that really stands out between this and the PS3 version when looked at separately. That said, the visuals are lovely and it can often be under-appreciated just how well done they are, just go back and look at some of the earlier LEGO games on the PS3 or 360 and see how far they have come over the years.
Is LEGO The Hobbit a must have title? Not at all and if you haven’t worked through the other two LEGO releases on PS4, then it is hard to tell you to put those to the side and pick this up immediately. However if you have a family and you have worked through the other games, then you won’t go wrong by picking this up, because it is a LEGO game and the fun factor is still there.