In this time of disclaimers and caveats, allow me to reveal something: I really donít like The Lord of the Rings. Iíve watched the first film and thought it was OK (albeit far too long) but had no interest in the other two. I tried the books, got to the bit where theyíre wandering through a swamp for eight hundred pages in The Two Towers and thought there were much better things to do with my time. The Hobbitís good though. I like that one.
LEGO: Lord of the Rings
is a slightly different matter. I squealed like a fanboy when I got to check out the toys in January this year, and immediately it came to mind that it would make for a great franchise to get the Travellers Tales treatment. Surprise surprise, here it is, taking a distinctly non-Peter Jackson approach by covering all three films in one single game. And even for someone who isnít a fan of the series, itís pretty good.
Having been responsible for creating LEGO games for a while now, you come to expect a certain level of quality from the team at TT, and this latest release doesnít disappoint on that front. From the moment you fire it up, the game looks beautiful, filled with plastic goodness and fun from the off. Being that itís ostensibly a childrenís game thereís no sprawling introduction; youíre in the action after only a couple of minutes, chopping away at hordes of orcs as the prologue reveals itself.
While youíre getting to grips with the controls (hints and tips appear throughout, meaning that youíre never really that stuck), you may come to think that the voiceover is somewhat familiar, and if youíve seen the films youíd be right.
The developers have taken the voices of every actor involved in the movies, adding an extra level of immersion that those who love the series will get a kick out of. Hell, even for someone who wasnít that fussed I thought this was a pretty ace touch. Itís somewhat weird hearing Sean Beanís voice come out of a virtual minifigure, mind you.
Having consulted with someone who is an avowed fan, I am assured that the cutscenes in LEGO LOTR
are incredibly impressive. While pottering about in the Mines of Moria, sections are actually matched shot for shot and I had to agree that they looked pretty damn awesome. While this attention to detail is something weíre now used to with the LEGO games, itís still rather fun to spot the links between the two different media. Another really nice touch is found in the fact that the game is split into three Ďfilmsí, meaning you get separate introductions when you start the game depending on where you are in the story.
The trademark humour associated with the series is also found here, even though it does feel that the silliness has been dialled back somewhat when compared to other titles. However, when something happens that is just sheer ridiculous in the extreme Ė for example, the death of Boromir isnít exactly treated with the level of gravitas you see in the film Ė itís a welcome relief. Itís a family friendly attitude that makes the game accessible to a wide range of players, even those of a young age.
And itís here that I start taking issue with a few elements. This focus on making the game run as close to the source material as possible means I have the usual complaint I do with all LEGO games. Thereís just a total lack of peril Ė Frodo is never going to die, the One Ring will always (eventually) be chucked into Mount Doom.