We’ve all played at least one Travellers Tales Lego game at some point in our lives. The games have helped the Lego Company to sell millions of products worldwide thanks to the endless about of themes they could go down. The first Lego title TT released was seven years ago when they released Star Wars which ended up being one of the biggest selling games of the PS2. This opened up a whole world of opportunities to covert some of the biggest movie franchises into Lego sets and games. Since on top of the Star Wars trilogy we’ve been presented with Lego Indiana Jones, Batman, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean and now we finally have Lord of the Rings!
A lot of people will see this on the shelf and will discard it and brand it as “just another Lego game” but they would be missing out on a real gem of a game. The game follows the story of the films perfectly and in great detail, the big introduction at the beginning of the Fellowship of the Ring is mirrored at the start of the game. When you start the main story after the prologue in which you defeat Lord Sauron you take control of Frodo and as always, you are accompanied by Samwise. You find yourself in The Shire, the background and surrounding areas always look incredible throughout the game in comparison to a lot of the previous Lego titles, you can explore the whole of Hobbiton collecting coins, bricks etc. But the thing that really makes a player reminisce is the original Howard Shore soundtrack playing in the background as you explore. The music is perfectly placed and timed the same way in the game as it was done in the film.
For the first time ever in Lego game the whole story is an open world and you have to travel to your missions. From The Shire to Bree, to Rivendell, pass through the Mines of Mauria and the rest of the familiar locations across Middle-Earth. When you’re not in a mission you can just explore the areas you have already visited, collecting more coins or even taking on side quests which are another new feature. Unlike in other Lego titles as well the characters actually speak, instead of just shrugging their shoulders and grunting like they did back in the Star Wars games. The voices over’s haven’t been re-recording either, they have just been taken straight from the films so every word is recognisable from the scream of Gandalf at the Belrog beast “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!” to the forming of the fellowship when Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli offer their services to protect young Frodo Baggins. Players also have their own individual inventories which allow them to store various collectable items and you get the opportunity to use some of the items made famous in the films such as Elven rope and the Light of Eärendil, but certain items can only be used by certain characters. The game allows you to switch between 9 characters at any given time meaning you can experience all the different abilities each character has to offer, the game has been made in a way that requires you to use all the players as well which adds to an even greater experience. One of the cool new features is being able to throw Gimli at the enemy who are on higher ground.
There’re many similarities and comparisons that can be made to the other Lego titles, like collection the 10 hidden items on each level to create a model, or collecting enough coins to fill the “True Adventurer” bar. As you would expect they won’t keep everything serious in the game and they throw in their own subtle bits of humour that add to the games imagine and as you would expect some of the violence has been masked with humour to make it more family friendly, for example when Boromir gets shot by about 4 arrows in the film, in the game he gets shot with an arrow, a broom, a banana and also nearly has a chicken shot at him until Aragorn steps in.
Most of the achievements/trophies can be gained by just completing each level. But the creators have thrown in a few that personally made me smile as a fan of films. For example the “Don’t tell the Elf” achievement requires you to throw Gimli 30 times, “That one counts as mine!” requires you to finish off one of Gimli’s opponents as Legolas at Helms Deep. Then there are a few secret achievements such as “That still only counts as one!” which can be achieved by defeating an Oliphaunt as Legolas and the “One does not simply...” achievement is unlocked by simply walking into Mordor...
I really think this game could be the big surprise this Christmas. Fans of the films will love it and any kids who love Lego will love this game, even if they are unfamiliar with the films. It’s taken Lego games to a whole new level and the possibilities that are available for future titles are incredible. The new open world makes the game much for accessible and enjoyable. If anyone says that Lego Lord of the Rings is that same as other Lego games then they really don’t know what they’re missing out on. We can probably expect an adaptation of The Hobbit to come out next year or in 2014. If it’s anything like this then we could be in for something special!
Lego The Lord of the Rings is available now for Play Station 3, Xbox 360, Wii, PSV, NDS, 3DS and PC.
Review in association with Duracell Gaming Accessories, which are available from Amazon, Play.com and Zavvi.com Review by Thomas Thompsett, White Room Games.