Lego: The Lord of the Rings

When I bought my Xbox 360 back in 2008, it came with a game bundle of Lego: Indiana Jones and Kung Fu Panda. After a couple of minutes, it was clear that, even though it was “free”, the panda thingy had to quickly leave the disc tray… The Lego thing however, was a surprisingly lot of fun and we ended up spending hour after hour playing it …

Not only through the campaign for like 20 hours … we later searched each and every block and collectible until getting the 100% achievement.

Those familiar with the Lego games may want to click skip in order to skip the next chapter.

The Lego games abstract memorable parts of the corresponding movies and you can re-play them as Lego characters. Most characters have some special ability, that is needed to solve basic puzzles in order to progress through the levels. Indiana Jones has a whip to grab things and handles, Junior is small and can crawl through small passages and female characters can jump higher than male ones. While progressing throught the stages, you often have to smash lego items in order to re-arrange them into something new, say a ladder or a trampoline or a car. These items are then needed to further progress the level. There are tons of collectibles hidden throughout each chapter and getting them all requires to replay the levels with characters from the later game that have certain needed abilities.

After Lego “Indy”, we tried Lego Star Wars, which wasn’t exactly our thing since we are not too much into Star Wars. We liked the Batman game a a lot, had our fun with the first of the Harry Potter games and Pirates of the Carribean and were very excited when we heard that Lego: The Lord of the Rings was announced. It’s here for over a week now …

Since my wife and I played all the Lego games in coop mode, we quickly noticed that – in the LotR installment – they had changed an – at least to us – very basic game mechanic of the coop mode. Whereas in the earlier games, you would always be in the same area as your team-mate, in Lego LotR, you quite often part ways. For example: player one is fighting Saruman as Gandalf while player two runs through forests with the halflings or in another scene, player one fights the Balrog as Gandalf while player two crawls the mines of moria. After the fight on weathertop, player one has to deal with a the-one-ring-wearing-Frodo, which includes a terrible camera effect and angle while player two runs a completely different path until they re-unite at some point. But for like 10 minutes or so, you don’t get to see the other player at all. While this does follow the plot of the story, even enhances the movies with some scenes, the point is that while you play coop, you play different games, which we found quite disappointing.

The fact that in contrast to the earlier Lego games, the characters now have real voices, is not new in Lego Lotr, the previous installment also had that, but still, we don’t really like it. The movies the games feature are known so well by the player that it is not necessary and does ruin the games atmosphere, if the plastic toys actually talk. While I read that in the original english version, the voice acting is at least done by the original film cast, the german version is done by whoever-it-may-be and does not sound very good. Most speakers sound very un-motivated and straight boring. The good old Lego babble (see this for example) as featured in the earlier games would have been more fun and it would have helped take the seriousness out of some of the scenes. I mean, sure, Boromir dies, and he shouldn’t survive in the game either. The way this scene was taken to the game was a bit lighter than in the original (instead of arrows, the Uruk-hai launches a banana and a broom into Boromir), but the voice acting in this scene made it non-child-material nontheless.

It does have its moments though, like when Gimli “loads” his axe like a shotgun or when one of the human ring bearers drops his ring in the initial ceremony. In the end we strongly think it does not reach the quality of the previous Lego games. It’s not really bad, but not as good either.

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