In this new series, I will gush about my love for the licensed LEGO games. I will cover all of the games that I have played, ranging from really good to not as good.
I love Lord of the Rings, but I will admit that it is not the most action packed trilogy. Throughout the movies and the books, a majority of the story is walking to the destination. This walking is incredibly interesting with memorable characters and intense moments, but I don’t normally think the series to be one full of battles and endless action. A while ago, I had LEGO Lord of the Rings for the PS3 and I thought it would be fun because of my admiration for the trilogy and the fact that it was $10 at GameStop. I popped it in and played it, but something was off. It took me a few years to realize this, but I think that the Lord of the Rings trilogy is not all too well suited to be a LEGO game.
LEGO LOTR does a lot right. This is one of the first LEGO games to introduce voice acting, and once again it is all stripped from the movies. LEGO Frodo sounds like Elijah Wood, LEGO Gandalf sounds like Ian McKellan, and LEGO Samwise sounds like Sean Astin. Again, like The Force Awakens, I think that the voice acting does not fit the LEGO counterparts. With a gritty trilogy like the Lord of the Rings, having plastic looking figures say the lines take me out of the experience. The music is the same as the movies, and the movie music is amazing, so I don’t have much criticism for that aspect of the game. The character selection has basically every character from the trilogy, along with fan favorite Tom Bombadil and Peter Jackson holding a character. The ability to play all of these characters is wonderful and really gives a nod to the die-hard fans of the trilogy.
The levels themselves do the best they can with the material. Fellowship of the Ring is probably the least action packed movie, but the developers needed to squeeze levels out within relative spacing of the movie, so the first level is the Prologue of the movie (which is admittedly amazing), and the second level are the Hobbits creeping around the ringwraiths mashed with Gandalfs battle with Saruman. I do enjoy these scenes, but they are brief and do not lend themselves to being very good levels as they are relatively short. Levels like the Mines of Moria are fantastic levels as well as The Black Gate, but there is a 50/50 split between fun levels and really boring ones.
There are a lot of cutscenes in this game. Since a lot of the trilogy is the exposition as to make up for the hefty novels, there needs to be a lot of talking for the player to keep up with the story. For LOTR fans, they are a cool thing to watch, but kids could find the talking very boring and could turn off the game quickly. Though the dialogue and the voice acting is off, it is necessary when trying to get through a game like this. The developers made the cutscenes have silly slapstick as to keep the attention of smaller children, but they sometimes put the slapstick in very serious scenes making the story feel insignificant.
This game adopts many ideas from previous entries and puts a LOTR coat of paint on it. One of these ideas is the open world to explore. Instead of a central hub, players are free to explore Middle Earth at their leisure and can access levels and discover secrets within it. This would be a good idea save for the fact that Gotham City from LEGO Batman 2 feels way bigger than the entirety of Middle Earth in this game. There are sections of Middle Earth that are gigantic on the map, but Frodo and Sam can walk through in 15 seconds with no obstacles or enemies. I do understand that sections need to be shrunk down for the sake of efficiency, but I think that Middle Earth is given a disservice in this game. Middle Earth is huge with all sorts of environments and terrains, but when Hobbits can walk from Hobbiton to Rivendell within a matter of minutes, the immersion into the world is greatly compromised.
There are many Lord of the Rings games, but unfortunately this is one you should skip. Middle Earth can have good LEGO games, as I think the Hobbit trilogy would lend itself to a LEGO game better considering the series is more action packed (I have not played this game, and it will unfortunately not be covered on this series). If this is the only LOTR game that you have played, there are so many more games that are better and capture the trilogy better. Shadow of Mordor is one of my favorite PS3 games, and LOTR: The Third Age for the GameCube is a wonderful RPG set in Middle Earth. LEGO Lord of the Rings does good things, but I do think that the trilogy is best suited elsewhere.