The lights are on
the LEGO series really has it going! I mean, this is at least the 10th game in the series. That's not even including the several variations of these games ported on to portable gaming systems. Bottom line is the franchise is huge. Though it may not have as huge a fan base as the annual Call of Duty franchise, The LEGO games by Tt games holds it own in equal strength. So what is it that keeps this franchise going? This question could be the beginning of a very lengthy and in depth analysis of the series, but instead let's focus on the most recent release: LEGO: Lord of the Rings.
The presentation is top notch. And not just for a LEGO game. Scenes that included bright colors shown brilliantly. But what's most impressive from a visual perspective is it's replication of Middle Earth (The world LOTR takes place in) in LEGO form. Being a huge fan (or nerd if you so please) of LOTR, I'm natural going to be more critical about the comparison, and Tt Games did Middle Earth justice. From the Shire all the way to Morador, I was constantly hit by nostalgia from LOTR, while simultaneously the LEGO models brought forth another form of nostalgia from my LEGO building days. That's right, double nostalgia.
I did encounter a couple glitches here and there, but they weren't anything I couldn't get out of. I have to mention these we're few and far between, so there isn't much to whine about as nearly all games are bound to experience a glitch or two.
So the story that is here is the same as the LOTR trilogy. After all, the game literally take the LOTR movies and puts them in LEGO form with a few goofy adjustments. So the story won't be anything new if you already know the plotline for the movies.
That being said, if you haven't already experienced the LOTR story, this isn't the best way to experience it. Though it covers the gist of what takes part in the movies, it's near impossible to transfer all the story elements into a game. Just as the movie can't carry every detail from the books.
However, the story telling is greatly helped thanks to the semi-voice acting. I say "semi" because it's actually just voice overs taken directly from the movies and pasted in the appropriate places. Seems like the easy road, but it actually works exceedingly well, even as I'm a fan of the past "mute" story telling of gestures the LEGO recently abandoned.
The humorous twist are back as always to leave a smile on your face, but it still manages to keep the seriousness behind the story. So Tt's traditional goofyness in no way weighs down on LOTR.
Ok, so if you've played any of the several previous LEGO games, you know how this turns out, because at its core, it's the same stuff. You play through levels switching back and forth between characters, breaking everything in sight all the while collecting studs. No really, it's fun stuff. There are some light puzzles, rather easy boss battles, and so on and so forth. I'm not going to get too far into the basic LEGO game concept because of how well know it is, but I will be talking about what is specific to the LOTR game.
The last half of the series has had huge open hub worlds where the levels are there to choose from. While in original games, it was only a room, recent games have almost expanded it to an open world experience. This is excellent for LOTR as Middle Earth is a great place to explore. However, the "open world" is somewhat of an illusion as you wont really be able to explore all of its secrets until after you beat the game, and the path forwards is a fairly linear one. However this makes for almost promised replay value as there will still be tons of things to do after finishing the story line.
Speaking of replay value, the levels themselves are quite the same. The first time you play through a level,there will be tons of secrets unavailable to you. In fact, you'll probably collect hardly anything at all your first run through a level. But this is intended. After completion of a level you can go back and replay it in "Free Play Mode" which allows you to use any of the characters you've so far unlocked. Now you'll have all you abilities available to you, now letting you access every secret a level may hold. Having to replay a level may at first seem daunting, but the secrets hidden inside along with the use of whatever character you want to choose, makes it a new and likely more fun experience the second time around.
There are also sevel "side missions" out in Middle Earth, but they're usually only fetch quest, and they're all one of two possible mission types, both of which are strikingly similar in form. The number of hidden collectibles in Middle Earth are near uncountable, as they're everywhere. Completionist will have quite a challenge for this one.
One thing I wondered about the game that really impressed me was the split story line.The LOTR story line get's split several times. It almost follows 2 stories for the majority of the whole trilogy. I was pleased to find that the game did just that as well, allowing you to choose (most times) which story to follow, and which one you wanted to do a level for first.
Also to mention, the game is much more fun with a friend, but the unique, if not odd, split screen will take some getting used to.
Being a huge LOTR fans, LEGO Lord of the Rings did not disappoint. I was highly skeptical about playing another LEGO game, but this one has come out to be my personal favorite. Through fun gameplay that's lasted a very long time, to an almost overwhelming amount of collectibles, I've enjoyed my time with LEGO LOTR. And that time isn't over. I have tons of stuff still to do, and I actually see myself continuing to play this for some time to come. Hell, by the time I watched the final credits roll down, the game revealed to me I was only 30% complete. I no completionist, but the incentive is there.