lego_lord_of_the_rings_iconIf you know Middle Earth better than London’s underground map then you are a real Lord Of The Rings fan. I must say I was kind of skeptical when receiving a copy of the video game Lego Lord Of The Rings. How would a combination of Lord Of The Rings and Lego bricks look like? And what about controlling “Lego-bricked” Gollum or fighting Nazgul as Aragorn with a little plastic looking sword? I had a lot of fears that this game would be too childish without a lot of fun and perhaps a very adapted transcription of Tolkien’s master chief. What a good surprise to see that the story and the film transcription and scenes were – almost – perfectly respected including the chronology of each action. After a few minutes I was immersed in the fantastic world of Middle Earth and completely forgot that I was actually moving virtual Lego blocks 😉 The game was produced by Travellers Tale (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TT_Games) well-known for numerous Lego video games titles.

Having fun in Middle Earth

The first level starts with the great fight of Isildur against Sauron. You are playing the character of Isildur and you must kill a horde of violent and angry Orcs. Perhaps a somehow difficult start if you are not familiar with the gamepad’s buttons combination. But after a few minutes you will reach the second level located in the Shire. This part is so beautiful (of course only if you are a Lego fan) you can investigate almost each part and house of Hobbiton. The background track fully respects the original soundtrack and although it’s clearly looped, each territory and part of Middle Earth has its own musical identity. Believe me, this is really important and the music really sets you in the correct atmosphere and unconsciously catapults yourself in the film and the correct sequence.

lego_lord_of_the_rings_start_screen

Start screen of the game

Of course Travellers Tale put a lot of work to precisely follow the film’s sequences and atmospheres and that is absolutely a very positive point. I had some fears that through the Lego franchise the whole Peter Jackson and Tolkien visual universe would be slightly deformed or corrupted, but no, this game respects almost everything.

lego_lord_of_the_rings_video_game_7

Everything seems to be perfect in the Shire

lego_lord_of_the_rings_video_game_5

Frodo watching Rivendell

Another particularity of this game is that you have a so called “open world” (beware that the PS Vita and the Nintendo DS consoles don’t have this feature) mode that gives you full liberty to move your character into Middle Earth. And this is pretty amazing and funny to see that the dimensions of Middle Earth were scaled down to Lego bricks scale! So contrary to other open world games like Elder Scrolls IV in which you had to walk long minutes before reaching a castle or a checkpoint, in Lego Lord Of the Rings you can reach Minas Tirith as fast you can step back to the Forest of Fangorn and return to Rivendell to Arwen. This is pretty cool but this feature is only unlocked when you have completely finished the story. Of course during the “story mode” you will be able to use the map statues to return in a place you’d like to visit again. During your journey you will also be able to buy some new characters (over 80 including Aragorn, Frodo, Gandalf, Legolas, Gimli, Boromir, Sam, Merry, and Pippin) with new weapons and new treasures.

lego_lord_of_the_rings_video_game_6

The map option lets you choose where you would like to go. You can select the map statue for each part of Middle Earth as a target point: you will be then immediatly transported to the correct location.

lego_lord_of_the_rings_video_game_4

Notice here the option to travel to a defined location either by day or by night. This offers more possibilities and option for your quests and challenges.

Gameplay

lego_lord_of_the_rings_video_game_8

The glowing sword of Frodo in the night at Lothlorien. Even the statues are Lego minifigures. Really nicely designed.

I did not find this game pretty difficult to finish (2 days for the story mode). I expected more mazes and tricky parts à la Tomb Raider rather than small challenges. To make it short: you have the possibility to collect blocks and build small parts (a bridge or Lego stairs) in order to pass over a river or a cliff but that’s too simple to figure out which correct sequence and which pieces can be used. Perhaps this is also due to the fact that there’s a small contextual help at the bottom of the screen telling you what you can do (including which button you have to press)…

lego_lord_of_the_rings_video_game

At Minas Tirith.

What I really appreciated is the fact that you can (and must) change the characters during the game. The best example is the passage of Caradhras: the taller characters like Legolas or Aragorn must pull out of the snow other characters like dwarf Gimli  and to transport him on their backs. Interesting enough – and this fits into the humorous Lego universe – Gimli can be thrown from one character to the other one and can be used to break some big rock blocks.

Each character can also collect weapons or objects like ropes or water buckets and of course swords. When you have tamed Gollum you can even let him climb up steep rock hangs to collect new trophies.

lego_lord_of_the_rings_video_game_2

From this screen you can choose different playable characters. Notice that you can also run through Middle Earth as an Orc!

Concerning the collecting of items during the journey, even if you are a big fan of the book and have big capacities to memorize things, I found it difficult to recall whom amongst the 80 characters which one owns which tool to solve a specific challenge or to ignite a fire that will help you to burn some stuff so that you can freely progress towards Mordor. A small confusion also comes from the fact that you can play with several “versions” of each character: e.g. Sam or Frodo in “Shire mode”, then with a Frodo in “Weak mode” and then a Frodo as a ranger. I don’t know if this was done on purpose but this is a little bit confusing.

 

Humor

Lord Of The Rings is probably not the most hilarious book you can read and the film is not really very comical despite some “hollywoodish” scenes – remember that surfing scene with Legolas on the defenses of the Mûmakil in the epic Battle of Pelennor Fields?

The famous Boromir holding the Ring after the passage of Caradhras.

Boromir holding the Ring after the passage of Caradhras.

Concerning humor we have the most obvious difference between the scenes of the motion picture and those with the Lego blocks. In fact the later are really funny and some hilarious Easter eggs (including Peter Jackson!) were also included. The web community has collected them and even listed these Easter eggs: http://www.videogamesblogger.com/2012/11/19/lego-lord-of-the-rings-easter-eggs.htm

lego_lord_of_the_rings_video_game_14

Hobbiton is graphically superb and well realized. There are several mini challenges to achieve in Hobbiton.

But although some scenes of the film are somehow exaggerated, the reenactment of these scenes is well realized. I just had a “problem” with Boromir’s death: he died being hit by an Orc’s …. banana! It’s perhaps Lego humor but this is a very pretty strange choice. The next scene shows Boromir’s little boat floating down and falling down the waterfalls (Falls of Rauros) … like in a pinball game.. not very respectful for the poor Boromir but perhaps I was too much focused on the comparison film vs Lego game 😉 The same for some Orcs and Nazguls being killed by Lego broomsticks lol Even Gandalf was disguised as an aviator at the very end of the game but… come one a small touch of humor in such an epic story is not bad 🙂

The return of Tom Bombadil

Poor Tom Bombadil he was forgotten in Peter Jackson’s motion picture, but not in the Lego game. Here is the proof that Tom is back 😉

lego_lord_of_the_rings_video_game_17

Tom Bombadil is back!

The ring is now destroyed and Gollum has plunged into the magma and now?

Battle in front of the Black Gate. Notice Mordor in the background and the hordes of Orcs in this battle.

Battle in front of the Black Gate. Notice Mordor in the background and the hordes of Orcs in this battle.

lego_lord_of_the_rings_video_game_10

You can even paddle on the river Anduin.

lego_lord_of_the_rings_video_game_15

Even pumpkins are made of Lego bricks 😉

 

Party time in Hobbiton!

After some hours (and a few time lost with small challenges) you will finish the game with an achieving percentage of about 25%. Your first reaction will be to ask yourself: and now? And now the beauty of the game will be completely unleashed. Why? Because now you can freely move through Middle Earth (with Sam or another character of your choice) and try to solve the mini-challenges and collect red and the Mithril bricks. Now there’s absolutely no limit, you can return and try to find new treasure hidden behind blocks in the mountain or revisit Helm’s Deep to collect some more trophies.

lego_lord_of_the_rings_video_game_12

Passage of Caradhras in the snow.

During this open world mode you can also collect a lot of points to buy new characters or to find some crazy sounding Orcs that will tell you to find an item in a different region of Middle Earth. In this case it’s up to you to decide which way you want to follow. During these new quests you can also change the character with whom you are playing to easily solve some challenges: Gollum will be better for climbing on rocks, Legolas to aim targets with his arrows or Gimli to break hard rocks.

Conclusion

Lego –  Lord Of The Rings is a good game for fans of Peter Jackson’s motion picture. The high number of character and the open world mode gives player the liberty to walk in Middle Earth while choosing which challenges they want to achieve. The soundtrack of Howard Shore used as background music for this video game restitutes the full mysterious and epic atmosphere of the films. The story mode enables to reenact the different scenes of the film and the slapstick humor included in some scenes gives the whole game a fresh and pleasant touch. Definitely a good video game for the fans and perhaps the missing piece to complete the collection of Lego – Lord of the Rings figurine series.

P.S: If you can, don’t miss the exclusive package : the video game + exclusive Elrond figurine on Amazon.de

amazon_de_lego_lords_of_the_rings

Exclusive package sold by Amazon.de : the video game + an exclusive Elrond mini figurine.

 

Pro

  • Lego universe combined with Lord of the Rings universe is well realized
  • Open world map
  • Soundtrack
  • Over 80 characters with several versions and specific weapons
  • Numerous mini challenges
  • Humorous scenes

Contra

  • Game is sometimes too easy and short although I had a lot of fun playing with it.
  • Saving game states and load mechanisms are not user friendly (you must go to a saving statue or to a map statue).
  • Some game challenges are too much predictable – let’s say too easy to solve – and these challenges like finding Lego bricks to build a bridge or a passage are too obvious
  • The game sometimes bugs (occurred in my case only two times): you will need to restart your console to re-complete the level.

Additional Links

http://thelordoftherings.lego.com/en-us/Videogame/Default.aspx

http://videogames.lego.com/en-us/tipsandtricks/lord-of-the-rings/level-1-prologue/middle-earth-hobbiton/

http://www.videogamesblogger.com/2012/11/18/lego-lord-of-the-rings-treasure-chests-locations-guide.htm

http://uk.ign.com/wikis/lego-lord-of-the-rings?objectid=140081

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lego_The_Lord_of_the_Rings:_The_Video_Game

http://lotrproject.com/timeline/