It feels a lot more like an interactive story than a gaming experience, and no matter how much you screw up you’re never really punished. You can just keep hammering away during combat and will eventually somehow get through.
I mentioned earlier about pottering through the Moria section, and this just didn’t feel right. In the films, this is a time of stress and fear, the characters being chased down by a fearsome beast but there I am, farting about trying to work out what to do with a certain puzzle. Once I eventually triggered the necessary elements, cue the cutscene where everyone’s panicking to scrabble out the door.
It’s a bit of a disconnect, and one that people will invariably defend with the ‘but it’s a kids game’ argument, but when there’s no way to lose, doesn’t that defeat the point of playing?
There’s also the admittedly simplistic gameplay; wander about a bit, do some fighting. Wander a bit more and solve a puzzle which will either generally involve building something (not really building, you’re pressing a button once) or lighting a fire (again, one button press). I’d have personally liked to see a bit more of a challenge, but the level of ‘difficulty’ remains flat throughout.
All this negativity makes me feel like some sort of curmudgeon though, because there’s actually a fair bit to enjoy in LEGO: Lord of the Rings
. There’s something to be said for just pootling about, doing the quests that open up in Free Play mode and just enjoying the world that Travellers Tales have woven from virtual blocks.
Of course, if you’re one of those completist types you’ll have a field day with this. There’s a ridiculous number of characters to unlock (many of whom are just in the books), stuff to find and tasks to accomplish. Or you could just mess about and check out what the pigs are up to. The pigs are great. You’ll see.
It’s a cliché but one sprinkled with truth; fans will bloody love this game. You get the whole story experience, admittedly in a slightly weird and remixed format. Spotting the differences between the films and game will keep you entertained for ages and younger players will have no problems at all, especially if they have someone a little more skilled tagging along in co-op mode.
It definitely helps if you’ve seen the films before – there were whole sections later in the game where I didn’t have a clue what was going on – but all told, LOTR
is a solid enough game even if you’re not a fan. It’ll sell plenty anyway thanks to the LEGO branding, but I’m pleased to report that it’s far from shovelware; even a misery like me had a smile on his face most of the time.
+ Beautifully presented throughout
+ Doesn’t outstay its welcome
+ Random dashes of humour really make it
- Nearly impossible to lose
- Really needs knowledge of the movies to get the most out of it
- Muddling through often seems to be enough
SPOnG Score: 7/10