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PLATFORM: 360, PS3, PC
ESRB RATING: E 10+
DEVELOPER: Traveller’s Tales
PUBLISHER: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
(Note on format: So, you may notice that we have kicked the old sectional format down a well, Spartan-style. Ways I figure it, if we’re gonna be sharing company with our film-loving compatriots and all the great writing that has been done therein, we need to start treating our medium with the same respect. That is to say, games as a complete project. So, until Ebert starts breaking down his reviews by The Cinematography/The Acting/The Craft Services Truck, our game reviews are gonna play fast and loose and cover whatever we damn well feel is worth covering. Welcome to 2013.–Justin C. )
The Lego games inspire a modicum of creativity in young folks and for that, I’m glad. However; once you’ve played one Lego game, you’ve more or less played them all. Whether the stars of the game in question are Batman, Indiana Jones, Luke Skywalker, it doesn’t matter. You’re going to get winking nods to classic moments in that particular universe’s narrative while also stacking glowing blocks together to solve puzzles and use character abilities to … solve more puzzles.
Fun, but tiresome and repetitive is essentially the concept behind the Lego games, and although Lego Lord of the Rings does introduce some exciting new aspects like inventories, multiple weapons, magic and special character attributes/abilities, its more or less the same. I’d be remiss if I didn’t say these new additions to standard Lego tropes didn’t add anything new, they certainly do, but in the end, the game doesn’t feel fresh enough.
As usual, there are tons of secrets to uncover here, with plenty of avenues to explore along the way. This isn’t unlike Lego Batman 2 – DC Super Heroes in that the player is afforded a wide variety of characters and abilities, however; in the end, you’re still just collecting bolts, assembling structures and engaging in combat that feels wonky. While some are complaining about bugs in the game, I never experienced any. To be fair, I’ve yet to experience a bug in any Traveler’s Tales Lego game, so really, they do an amazing job of delivering a high-quality experience.
All the standard features of the Lego games are back, which is nice. Characters can be swapped out and teamed up with one-another, their (slightly different) animations are fun to watch, and the story, for a Lord of the Rings fan, is charming to see in Lego form. The Legos themselves don’t speak much, but when they do, its fine, as the dialogue is all taken from the original LoTR trilogy.
Admittedly, I’m not the target audience for this game. While I appreciate the visuals, the narrative (though I’m not a big LoTR fan, I adored The Hobbit), the gags, etc., I find myself bored with the Lego games fairly quickly. They’re aimed at kids, obviously, however; I’m a guy who adores Viva Pinata as much as any kid, so, I don’t know exactly what that missing ingredient is for me with Lego Lord of the Rings. There’s a certain disconnect between me and these little Lego characters that I thought I’d be able to overcome with the Lego Batman games, however; that didn’t happen. Maybe I need a Lego Back To The Future or a Lego Expendables game to really get my blood pumping for the videogame world of Lego.
Overall, I’d say I enjoyed the game more than other Lego entries, however; not nearly enough to make it my go-to recommendation for parents with a 360 looking for something for their kids. That remains Viva Pinata, the finest kids’ game of this generation. While Traveler’s Tales is clearly going in the right direction toward providing players with the freedom and characters/abilities required, Lego Lord of the Rings falls just short of what I think they were trying to accomplish. I’d love to see a Lego game that takes everything this title does right (which is practically everything, besides combat and player-engagement) and expands on it further.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars