TT Games and Warner Interactive have been a busy bunch this past year with titles such as LEGO Marvel Superheroes and the LEGO Movie Videogame releasing on every format available. Now here we are again with their third multi-generational release in six months as Tolkien gets the construction toy treatment once more in LEGO: The Hobbit.
“In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit.”
The story isn’t based on Tolkien’s masterpiece directly but on the first two films of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, “The Unexpected Journey” and “The Desolation of Smaug”, though it is very well adapted from that source material.
Each level of the main story campaign is introduced by Christopher Lee, a.k.a Saruman the White (or Dracula if love your Hammer Horror movies), who provides the player with a chapter blurb which helps keep the story on track. Despite such an eloquent prelude, there are a couple of times throughout the game when the story feels rushed and disjointed from the gameplay, meaning that players who have not seen the movies might feel lost. That said, the avid Tolkien fan will be more than pleased with the story flow.
All of the main movie scenes have been adapted into stunning levels to enjoy, from Bilbo’s first unexpected meeting with the dwarves to his face to face with Smaug, every sense of fun, adventure and danger is captured brilliantly in LEGO form and as always TT Games legendary cut-scene humour is at the top of it’s game.
Many fans of the gaming series saw LEGO Lord Of The Rings as one of the less enjoyable outings to date for a number of reasons and although there is a sense of deja vu early on in LEGO The Hobbit, it is clear to see that the developer has made some significant improvements.
“I’m looking for someone to share in an adventure.”
The open-world middle earth feels much more vibrant and alive compared with LOTR and the scenery stretches for miles, if TT ever decide to make LEGO: Skyrim then this is the template ready and waiting.
As we have come to expect from LEGO games since Batman 2, this open-world is littered with side missions, puzzles and characters to collect, though it’s just as fun to randomly explore the environment and that’s where this games works best. With the previous two LEGO games there was no real push to explore the open-world outside of what was required to complete side missions but with The Hobbit having such monumentally detailed source material (seriously read a Tolkien book) the landscape thrives on exploration.
Fans of the gaming franchise will be happy to know that the basic game-play elements remain unchanged (yet again), though as with several of TT’s more recent additions, new gaming modes have been added in an attempt to bring a bit of diversity in.
It seems that the developer took a lot of inspiration from the LEGO Movie videogame when finalising the mini-games here. Yes, there is another rhythm mini-game, this time involving dwarves and plates, but thankfully no it’s doesn’t feature “Everything is Awesome”. The strangest addition, in this writers opinion, is the LEGO kit assembly mini-game, something that worked so well in the LEGO movie as a reference to the construction worker characters seems somewhat out of place and forced into this game.
The newest additions include “buddy-mode”, where two or more characters link together on problems requiring more strength or height. Also introduced is the need to collect resources throughout the game in order to make certain objects, from mining rocks and gems to destroying barrels for wood planks, this is integrated into every part of the game, both story and free-roam. This works well and doesn’t feel forced upon, encouraging the players to explore more of the story levels in order to collect the required resources.
“You have nice manners for a thief and a liar”
The soundtrack for the game is unsurprisingly superb with all of Howard Shore’s amazing work from the movies used to great effect as backing music. In addition all of the main voice-over work is straight from the movie, which also adds that extra bit of class when you finally meet Smaug and hear Benedict Cumberbatch’s brilliant voice-over work, even in LEGO form it’s quite terrifying.
Unfortunately the soundtrack is not perfect. The one let-down with the audio is the quality of some of the sound-bites from the movie, they sound as though they’ve been taken straight from the movie, background sounds and all and some of them just don’t work well.
Despite the minor issues with sound and story flow it is very difficult to find a serious fault with this game. LEGO: The Hobbit vastly improves on the Tolkien predecessor graphically as well as general playability, it’s a much more enjoyable experience. TT Games have continued a long line of fun, entertaining and enjoyable games, roll on LEGO: Skyrim (if only).
[tabgroup][tab title=”The Good“]
Massive improvement on LEGO Lord Of The Rings
A well made adaptation, nothing is lost
A genuine joy to play
[/tab][tab title=”The Bad“]
Story feels a little rushed in places
Certain game modes seem out of place in middle earth
More suited for an older demographic then LEGOs usual target audience