Lego The Lord of the Rings Review

Exploring a plastic version of Middle-earth is immensely satisfying in Lego The Lord of the Rings.

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Those who have never played one of the many Lego games developed by TT Games might find it difficult to believe that a beloved franchise such as The Lord of the Rings can benefit from a simplified narrative and family-friendly gameplay. The notion seems absurd, and yet past releases have capably proven that plastic blocks and theatrical blockbusters can make a great mix. That's particularly evident in the case of Lego The Lord of the Rings.

Though the game doesn't offer many narrative surprises, the lack of unexpected twists actually works in its favor. If you've seen the movies, you know the story of the brave hobbit Frodo and his journey to a well-guarded volcano where he hopes to destroy the cursed bauble he carries. All of the nastiest creatures in the land would be delighted to pry "the One Ring" from Frodo's cold, dead hands, and the capable people who should protect him are usually busy facing similarly important struggles of their own. The characters' combined adventures provided ample fodder for hours of cinematic excellence, and now Peter Jackson's three enormous films have been crammed into a single game.

This latest adaptation of the classic tale doesn't feel like a cheap substitute for the epic story, even though the protagonists are now fashioned from plastic. The most riveting moments from the film trilogy are recreated here--even a few that existed almost entirely for the sake of character development or mild comic relief, such as the contest between Legolas and Gimli to see who could slay the most orcs. The shrugs, smirks, and tension-diffusing humor that are standard practice in Lego games have been supplemented here with extensive spoken dialogue that was pulled directly from the movies. Kids will love seeing characters skewered by fruit or snuggling with teddy bears, while parents will appreciate the minimal violence.

A fascinating story and great voice work can carry a game only so far, though, and Lego The Lord of the Rings benefits from a solid gameplay foundation that should keep players of all ages coming back for more even when they already know how everything ends. Stages generally consist of a series of basic puzzles, occasionally interrupted by battles with small enemy groups that are easily overwhelmed. You can swap protagonists instantly to gain access to their respective abilities, and there are no permanent deaths. Characters briefly falls to pieces but almost immediately return to the action.

The worst punishment you face is the loss of a portion of the studs you've collected, which means you could be deprived of a True Adventurer bonus once you clear the stage. Advancing from the game's prologue to its closing credits will probably take you no more than 10 or 12 hours, but actually reaching 100 percent completion could easily take twice that long. Mostly, you are allowed to decide what sort of experience you want to get from playing, within the established framework.

Due to the occasionally distracting volume of available content that practically begs to be discovered, a dynamic stud trail guides you to the next story sequence. Banners are spread throughout the open world and handily mark the entrances to action stages, but adventurers can easily get turned around without additional assistance. Fortunately, it's easy to warp directly to places you have previously visited, or to consult a map and set helpful waypoints. The stud trails unerringly lead you toward a chosen point unless you find a new obsession. Detours from the beaten path aren't a problem, either; the translucent stud trail quickly adapts and calculates the best route from your current location to your chosen destination at all times. That helpful mechanic isn't new to video games or even to the Lego franchise, but it's tremendously useful all the same.

If you decide to temporarily put your main quest on hold, or if you keep playing the game after clearing the final story stage, you'll discover a variety of simple but entertaining diversions. Your main way to kill time is to seek out white mithril blocks so that you can give them to a blacksmith in the village of Bree who can then construct new equipment for your characters (provided they also bring him blueprints that are obtained within story missions and by completing side quests that non-player characters occasionally offer). Sometimes, you discover those pale blocks as you navigate the world, and you only need to climb a tree or explore a cave to retrieve them. In other instances, you may need to race through a short checkpoint course, or defeat a certain number of enemies within a set time period. You can consult your map to find the location of nearby blocks or to meet up with the unlockable characters that start wandering the map as you advance through the campaign.

As you interact with the world, you'll find that bringing a friend along improves your experience because you're no longer forced to do everything yourself. You shouldn't have much trouble convincing a friend or family member to join you, either, since the game presents such an inviting world. There are places where it really comes to life. Roaring waterfalls line the face of distant cliffs. Birds take flight and flap their way across the sky. The only real technical issue is occasional pop-in as distant objects appear out of nowhere in some of the more open environments, but even that issue never reaches a point where it's distracting.

Friends who are tempted by what they see can easily join a game or drop out as desired, with no negative impact to the other player. Two players don't have to stick close to one another, either; if the distance between two heroes exceeds a certain amount, the screen splits diagonally down the middle to accommodate separate exploration. You and your friend can divide and conquer, meeting in the middle only when fighting mobs or solving cooperative puzzles. Since puzzle solutions usually involve running to the nearest patch of light on the ground and using a specific item to clear a path to the next obstacle, it's easy for a new player to get used to how everything works in a minute or two. Most distinct challenges within a stage need to be conquered twice, which ensures that both players can stay busy if they wish.

Though the bulk of the puzzles you encounter throughout the game are relatively unremarkable if you consider only their basic design, the developers also included a few sequences that do a nice job of turning events from the fiction into entertaining challenges. In one stage, you must wander through a swamp while avoiding a winged beast. You take damage if you don't find shelter for all three characters in your party when you see the monster circling in the skies. In another scene, the ring's curse draws Frodo toward his doom if you leave him to his own devices, so you need to keep a close eye on him as you work to find an alternative way forward.

There are also some great boss battles and set pieces, many of them unique and surprisingly ambitious (in particular, watch for a few cool scenes involving elephants). The frequency of such highlights means that the game is more than just a standard puzzle or action game with a Lord of the Rings skin. Sometimes the developers' ingenuity results in stages that aren't particularly enjoyable a second or third time around, though. In those cases, it's possible to bring new characters to familiar environments. Those characters can usually find secrets that were previously unavailable. Just like that, the familiar becomes interesting all over again.

TT Games and Lego struck gold when they united for Lego Star Wars in 2005, and that rich vein is still yielding worthwhile results. Lego The Lord of the Rings is perhaps the finest treasure that the partnership has yet produced, a compelling mixture of cooperative gameplay, secrets galore, and a story that remains one of the most fantastic that Hollywood has ever captured on film. If you haven't given the Lego games a chance yet, there has never been a better time to start.

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The Good
Tells the familiar story in a satisfying way
Lots of goodies to uncover
Exploration is encouraged and fun
Faithful to the spirit of the source material
The Bad
Stages can get repetitive when played alone
Occasional bugs can sometimes annoy
8.5
Great
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19 comments
MageHatAndHeart
MageHatAndHeart

I played the original Lego Star Wars and found it to be lacking. The absence of dialogue was a big let down. Not sure about this though, maybe it's good. I've played so many LOTR games though already... Might be worth a shot for the 3DS

UFO2012
UFO2012

How about Lego Back To The Future, Lego Star Trek, Lego Ghostbusters, Lego Transformers...endless possibilities with this franchise. Or how about some Lego Marvel games?

kcender08
kcender08

I'd really like to see a Lego James Bond, but that might not be too family-friendly considering it is more mature of a series. But who knows, I could be wrong.....

MrTakeda
MrTakeda

Lego Devil may cry? lol

Lego Die hard? lol

Lego Jaws? lol

Lego The Godfather? lol

Lego Preditor? lololol

Anyway this game is fun (although my PS3 crashed several times on the 2-player).

Leboyo56
Leboyo56

I think the next most viable franchises Traveler's Tales should LEGO-ify after Marvel are Spongebob (come on Battle For Bikini Bottom was awesome), Avatar: The Last Airbender/Legend of Korra, Adventure Time (maybe), My Little Pony (for all you bronies out there; I'm not one, but I wouldn't care), and some other video game franchises could be possible, since they did do Rock Band, remember? 

joreser
joreser

LEGO..... DRAGON BALL Z!!!!

atn98
atn98

Just rented this game with my girlfriend. We played coop Lego Indiana Jones, Batman, Harry Potter and Star Wars. The coop mode in Lego Lord of the Rings was ruined by the split screen. It appears randomly when you are 1 inch apart. It's a total nuisance. I really prefer no split as in the aforementioned games.

protoroc
protoroc

Lego Matrix and Lego Pulp Fiction please.

leftnotracks
leftnotracks

Just started, but there is one obvious mistake: spoken dialogue. The complete lack of spoken words in earlier Lego games was one of their greatest charms. Cut scenes were entirely mimed using exaggerated gestures and emotional responses, such as crying Ewoks. The spoken words in cutscenes are jarring and do not suit the Lego series.

starkillsam
starkillsam

The best Lego game. I finished story mode and I am approximately 50 percent done with the game. The character customizer is actually pretty good. The open world is amazing. Sure, it's not Skyrim, but it isstill ffilled with secrets. Even after 100 percent, it's going to be more gun because I won't have to worry about any secrets and I could just become Sauraun and invade Rohan and Rivendell, unleashing the wrath of my mithril disco phial.

halorocks123
halorocks123

Beat the story mode, just getting all the achievements for it now.

HAIGZ
HAIGZ

I really liked the demo, although I didn't really like the bow controls, maybe I have to play it a bit more and get used to it.

THGarrett
THGarrett

Definitely going to have to get this.  I finished playing the Helms Deep demo and I was pretty amazed on how faithful it is to the movie, but also adding the LEGO humor to it.

 

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sladakrobot
sladakrobot

Oh god...3 days ago i finally finished Lego Star Wars TCE (1000 GS) and i really have enough of Lego games for some time lol

That is...till Lego Star Trek comes out :)

xGarrettThiefX
xGarrettThiefX

This looks great but you know what would be even better ? Lego Conan the Barbarian and Destroyer !

MrInSUB
MrInSUB

Yup, definitely getting this. I played the crap out of Star Wars and Indiana Jones when I was younger, and this game reminds me of how much fun I had playing video games at one point (instead of the raging that goes on for any fps.. or any game for that matter...). Don't think that people who play these kinds of games are little kids though, I'm 17. Lego games have always been some of the best out there, and I found myself enjoying the demo on XBL way more than I thought I would. Lego humor is the most refreshing thing in the world. 

 

So yea, definitely getting this.

bmart970
bmart970

I played LEGO Star Wars a ton, played LEGO Indiana Jones a ton, I got all of the achievements for LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean. I am most definitely getting this. (and like Rat_King I'm not a little kid)

Rat_King
Rat_King

I love the Lego games and no I'm not a little kid. I'll probably pick this up when it's $10 on Steam, maybe sooner.

 

However, nit picky nerd alert here so beware, as a die hard Tolkien fan, I don't think it's fair to say it's faithful to the source material when it's based on the films, which were not faithful AT ALL. It's like saying the Hitman movie was faithful to the source material.

 

But I guess if you're looking to relive the movies, then this is a good choice. Just don't expect it to be true to the ACTUAL source material....

Leboyo56
Leboyo56

@atn98 The dynamic split-screen has been in every LEGO game since Indiana Jones 2...which released before Harry Potter, and I haven't played those two yet, so maybe it was randomly taken out of them for some reason, because I relatively like it. More so than the permanent split-screen in titles before LIJ 2, at least.

atn98
atn98

Permanent vertical split screen (the alternative to dynamic split screen) is also crap because exploration is way more fun when you have a full view.

Leboyo56
Leboyo56

@protoroc I highly doubt Traveler's Tales would take the chance of making LEGO games based off of R-rated franchises, but yes those would be interesting.

Veldon56
Veldon56

 @Rat_King The source material for the game are the movies, not the books.

Pyrobon
Pyrobon

 @Rat_King The movies were not faithful AT ALL to the books? AT ALL? Really? >_>I´ve also read them so please, indulge me with your knowledge 

jchristenberry
jchristenberry

Wow what an arguement.  As someone who has not read the books I have nothing here... but to alleviate tension here is a movie I think we can all agree on that was the worst adaptation ever; Eragon. 

 

The only thing they seem to stick to was the names and the dragon was blue. lol  The rest of the book was pretty much skipped, taking only a paragraph here and a paragraph there.

Rat_King
Rat_King

 @Pyrobon Oh man where to start. They still did a good job capturing the books, but you need to re-read them if you think they were accurate. Even the extended editions.

 

Let's see...well, elves never fought at Helms Deep. Sam and Frodo never got into a little boyfriend/girlfriend fight (they were the epitome of best friends, not emo high schoolers) when climbing the stairs. Shelob's scene took place in the second book and was infinitely more detailed, considering Sam was with him. How about the multiple chapters when Sam takes the ring from Frodo, uses it several times, and has his own mini adventure to save Frodo from the orcs (alluded to for 10 seconds), only to give it back no hesitation at all (slight hesitation in the movies). Don't even get me started on what they left out/added of all of Aragorn's story. Oh and in the books Faramir is one of the most bad ass characters, soooo underrated in the films, and Denethor isn't some evil dictator.

 

Honestly this is just the tip, if you want more feel free to message me because I could name plenty more. Again, I love the movies, but the sad fact is it's very Hollywood. So many people claim to have read the books but somehow missed out on all the blatant inaccuracies....makes me wonder....

Rat_King
Rat_King

@MrTakedaSpoilers: (this should clear things up for those of you claiming to have read the books)

 Frodo/Sam/Merry/Pippin are about to die. They are about to be swallowed by an evil tree that is relatively mysterious in Tolkien lore, literally seconds away from death. Setting it on fire only pisses it off more. A jolly character happens to come through, whistling and singing, then whispering to the trees, Old Man Willow to be exact. He convinces the tree to release the Hobbits, and it does so, though reluctantly. He then guides them back to his cabin, feeds them, supplies them, shares countless hours of lore and strategy with his charming wife, then leads them to safety.

What makes him fantastic is he is one of the most mysterious characters in all of the canon and there is only 1 other character who's origins are as mysterious as his (Ungoliant). In fact some believe he is what is more or less "God." His role was FAR from pointless or even really boring for that matter. Yet you thought the scene from Bree, which was nothing like the movie, was more exciting. Very interesting. They changed a ton to make up for cutting it out too, it wasn't just a little snip.


I seriously can't believe how upset so many of you got because I said it should be pointed out more clearly these are based off the movies, not the books! This is hilarious and tragic all at once. And btw I have played through it, and though fun enough, it isn't even accurate to the movies. I never said I was better because I'm a Tolkienite, you folks just like to put words in peoples mouth.


Lastly, to those of you so willing to give your clearly well thought out advice, I suggest reading all the comments first. It will save you a lot of embarrassment. Shame on you for bumping this Takeda and reminding me of its existence.

MrTakeda
MrTakeda

WILL YOU ALL SHUT UP! THIS HAS BEEN GOING ON FOR 17 DAYS!

Bayonetta2013
Bayonetta2013

 @Rat_King  @Pyrobon Dude, chill out. You're making yourself look bad as a Tolkien fan by shoving words down the other guy's throats. Who cares if his opinion differs from yours? So you have to put him down by being a self-proclaimed die-hard?

Bayonetta2013
Bayonetta2013

 @Pyrobon  @Rat_King Agreed. Tom Bombadil was a complete waste of time in the book and I was bored with the chapter he took up anyways. 

Now, if they ever Lego-fied The Hobbit, someone like Beorn who was a minor character should be included. But as you said, a movie adaptation of a book cannot contain every single detail in the book. The movie already spans three and around ten hours. 

Most people couldn't stand a movie that took five hours to include everything the books did.

Rat_King
Rat_King

 @Raginfrijoles  Ah, that explains it. It's ok, others will support you and your lifestyle.

 

Community is a great show though.

Raginfrijoles
Raginfrijoles

@Rat_King @Raginfrijoles www.youtube.com/watch?v=w7Myff5xAZM

Rat_King
Rat_King

 @Raginfrijoles Interesting.

 

I mean, I guess sending someone a specific "I will kill you" link for no real reason on gamespot comments is kind of funny. Like Andy Kaufmann funny, meaning it's just...weird. So I guess if that's what you were going for then apparently you succeeded. So now it's time for you to start wrestling old women...

 

To be fair I admit I did laugh...but it wasn't at the video.

 

Also I did give a disclaimer, so I knew my comment would turn into this. And THAT was hilarious.

Raginfrijoles
Raginfrijoles

 @Rat_King Good-bye humor, I knew thee well. It twas only for a short while, but I had fun. R.I.P. 

Rat_King
Rat_King

 @Raginfrijoles Yikes, I'd highly suggest seeking therapy. A) because Taken sucked and B) If talking about Tolkien drives you to murder...well...don't see the Hobbit premier. I think our movie premiers have had a hard enough time this year...

Rat_King
Rat_King

 @jayjay444 Definitely. Personally, I think they could've maybe trimmed back juuuust a little bit from the Bree scene to make time for a shortish Bombadil scene. That was a pretty important part of Frodo's journey. The Frodo falling and the ring magically landing onto his finger. Interesting idea, but would you rather see that or Tom Bombadil? :P

 

But, what's done is done. I'm just looking forward to meeting Radagast...hope they don't mess him up.

jayjay444
jayjay444

 @Rat_King  Everything u sad is true, I'm a fan of the books and the movie's i love both. yes they missed out a lot to do with the books, but if they filmed it like the books the story would have been 100 hours long and it woundnt have been made. The council of Elrond would have been 30 hour's long on it's own. Also they set out to tell the story of Frodo and destroying the one ring thats why they missed out things like tom bombadil, saruman destroying the shire etc etc. so i understand why they did it the way they did but the books are way better than the movies but i still think the movies are great. 

cnx2022
cnx2022

 @Rat_King   

It clearly seems like you know what you're talking about. No point in arguing with people just for the sake of it. If you read the book ALOT of times, that is not showing off, you are simply informing the other person of how well informed you are.  I go with you on thi, Ratking.

Rat_King
Rat_King

 @astr0creep  @Pyrobon It was pretty hilarious. And I definitely agree they could do the Hobbit easily in two, maybe even one 3/12 hour movie.

 

But keep in mind it's not just The Hobbit. It's a lot of stuff from the LOTR appendices which are mini stories in themselves and, considering it's now 3 movies, I wouldn't be surprised if they have flashbacks of stuff that happens in the Silmarillion. But, as Gandalf once said, there is no hope. Only a fool's hope...

astr0creep
astr0creep

 @Pyrobon  @Rat_King Guys/gals, this convo is hilarious. Please grace us with another such fine thread after you've watched the entirety of The Hobbit.

A 9-12 hour movie from a 350-page (approx) children's book. YAY!

Lego The Hobbit lolll

Pyrobon
Pyrobon

 @Rat_King It's pointless to have any discussion if there's no respect. I'll leave you to your opinion.

 

Rat_King
Rat_King

 @Pyrobon Dude you're completely blowing my point out of proportion. Calm down. All I said was it's not faithful to the real source material. I don't know where you pick up the fact I apparently don't understand it's difficult to translate a book fully to the movie. You know, considering 99.999% of book to movie adaptations are like that. You're still crying over nothing because you want to cause drama.

 

Fact is, it's totally different. Be in denial all you want but it's straight up fact. Really the only similarities are the battles and the geography. They've even added characters. Nowhere does it say elves are all effeminate scholars with long flowy hair. Saruman wasn't even killed in the original movies, we had to watch the extended edition with CGI fireballs (non existant). There are things they took out that they EASILY could've translated into the movie, but instead they decided it needed to be more Hollywood to appeal to audiences. It wasn't about making it fit. I've accepted this. So don't play the game thinking you know the full LOTR story because it's more interactive. That's all.

Pyrobon
Pyrobon

 @Rat_King I was probably more annoyed with the couldn't get to see the Scoulding of the Shire, which was a marvelous way of depicting that the tragedies of war didn't end with the war itself. Plus, it changed Saruman's death to a far cheesier one. But again, The Return of The King was far too long already and i understand there was no time left 

Pyrobon
Pyrobon

@Rat_King  The books and films have totally different audiences. There is a lot that needs to be added or changed cause of production and marketing reasons, yes.You say that your list is just some of the things, i'm aware of that. I'm aware of how many licenses the movies took. I'm asking you for what you consider the biggest changes, the ones that make the movie not faithful (In your opinion). I still fail to consider them of extreme importance. They were all in there for the dramatic purposes of storytelling in film, which is totally different that the one in novels."Then convey the exact OPPOSITE of what was happening in the books" How so?The themes of nature vs industrialism, of power and war, the purpose behind every character, AND the key plot points are there. I do agree about the portrayal of Denethor, plus Gollum protoganism in the films was greatly expanded. I'm not gonna discuss with you the fact that you to discredit the fact i've read the books, nor i wont enter in a competition with you about who is the greatest fan or who has read the books more times. I prefer arguments and logic rather than showing off. I have no reason not to believe you've read the books more times that you can count,  we simply disagree. I think the list of things he was faithful to is far more relevant. 

Rat_King
Rat_King

 @Pyrobon Wow dude, I could instantly tell you're full of it and haven't read the books. Those things I mentioned, which like I said are hardly the only inaccuracies, are MAJOR changes, not subtle differences. I didn't even have to mention Bombadil and my comment was still too long. Freakin' elves at Helms Deep. Solely so they could show audiences that elves wore cool armor. How is that essential? Cool, yes. Essential to the spirit of the books, hardly. If anything it conveys the exact OPPOSITE of what was happening in the books. Not to mention they rearranged the entire story. Stuff in book 1 happens in movie 3, stuff in 3 happens in 2 etc

 

I'm a die hard Tolkien fan bud, I literally worship the guy. I've seen the movies more times than I can count and have read the books just as many. I said the movies did a great job of capturing the feel of the books. I'm not overlooking sh**. Fact is, A LOT of what happened in the movies never happened in the books. A lot. Not even just skipping things, they took important chunks out and added ridiculous chunks in. All I'm saying is it's a game based on the movies, which I know they made clear, but saying it's faithful to the source material is slightly misleading, especially when it's such a big name title.

Pyrobon
Pyrobon

 @Rat_King That's because no one has missed out anything Rat King .  The thing is you're overlooking  how the process of adapting a book to a movie is. To say that they were not faithful AT ALL is an exaggeration considering the scope of the series.  None of the things you mentioned are essential neither to the spirit of the story nor to the development of the blog.Is like the freaking constant point that Tom Bombadil didn't appear. It doesn't matter, the movies were long enough and that didn't change the core themes or events.I disagree. Peter Jackson did one extraordinary job of adaptation,  and i think its fair to say no other director, with such a huge and complex material in his hands, has done such a great job understanding and sticking to the concept.In my opinion, it's far more what he was faithful to that what he wasn't.  

LEGO The Lord of the Rings More Info

  • First Released
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    LEGO The Lord of the Rings retells the story of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy through the visuals of the LEGO universe.
    8.3
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    Developed by:
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    Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
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