Traveller’s Tales Games has made quite the reputation for themselves. They’ve been making LEGO video games of popular movies since 2005, when LEGO Star Wars was released. Each LEGO game has improved on the formula and we’ve had some gems over the years. The LEGO adaptation of The Lord of the Rings trilogy is no different. In fact, it has some new surprises up its sleeve.
If you’re unfamiliar with the line of LEGO video games, they take place in a movie world, built almost entirely of destructible LEGO blocks. You take control of a number of LEGO minifig versions of the characters in the films.
The film is distilled into a number of chapters, depicting various moments that follow the film timeline. The story is generally explained in short cutscenes, usually with no dialogue, and always with a touch of LEGO humour. If you haven’t seen the films, you’ll probably be a bit confused as to what’s going on.
Perhaps because of the complexity of the Lord of the Rings story, voices from the films have been given to the characters in this game. This is a first for the LEGO game series, and adds a bit of weight to the storytelling.
The LEGO humour is most definitely still there in the actions of the characters (the arrival of the Riders of Rohan stands out in my mind), and you’re probably still going to be a bit at sea if you haven’t seen the films.
Each film in the LOTR trilogy has been split up into 6 chapters, which you must play through once first in Story mode (where you play as characters relevant to the story) before you unlock Free Play (where you can play with any unlocked characters and may swap between them at any time). In between each level, you are taken to Middle-Earth, where you can explore or travel to the next location in the story. You have a world map that lets you see where everything is, including levels, collectables, and characters. You’ll need to complete the entire story before you’ll unlock Middle-Earth Free Play.
This Middle-Earth world map section really sets this LEGO game apart, both from other LEGO games and from other LOTR games. Not only can you use the map of Middle-Earth to fast travel to various parts of the world or to quickly access levels, you can also explore on foot.
Tolkien’s world has truly been recreated in amazing detail. Yes, there are LEGO blocks and puzzles all over the place, but there’s no feeling quite like standing on top of Minas Tirith and looking down at the world of the Lord of the Rings. You can even wander into Isengard and climb up Orthanc if that appeals to you. Don’t worry, there will always be collectibles to reward you for your hard work!
There are dozens of characters to unlock, each one with various abilities that will help you in your exploration in Middle-Earth. Legolas can jump higher than everyone else, he can shoot targets with his bow, and he can swing on various poles in the world.
Gimli can use his axe to break certain tiles, while Samwise Gamgee can light fires, dig up treasure and grow plants. There are many more abilities and you will need all of them if you plan to succeed in this game.
A nice thing that this game adds is the ability to craft various items. Throughout the game, you will collect mithril LEGO bricks, which can be used in conjunction with blacksmith recipes to create items like mithril rope, mithril bows, and so on.
These items can be equipped by any character in Free Play, effectively giving them the abilities linked to the original rope or bow wielding character. This offers even more versatility as you do not have to necessarily swap to a different character to complete a puzzle – you can just equip the right item.
Co-op play is an important part of any LEGO game and it is no different in LEGO LOTR. Dynamic or fixed split screen co-op is available, meaning you can play alone or with a friend. That friend may drop in or out at any time. What’s cool here is that if you’re in a level where two events would be happening simultaneously, they can be played simultaneously in the game.
For example: dealing with the Balrog as Gandalf while escaping the Mines of Moria with the rest of the fellowship. If you were playing alone, you’d have to do one after the other, but playing with a friend has these two scenes happening at once.
Fetch quests are dotted around Middle-Earth. As you complete story levels, you’ll collect a plethora of items, from hats to paintbrushes. The denizens of Middle-Earth are just dying to get their hands on these items, and will reward you with either mithril bricks or red bricks, which give you access to handy ‘cheats’ like invincibility or stud multipliers.
Like most LEGO games, LEGO LOTR has its fair share of bugs. We never found anything game breaking, however. Most of the little glitches were just irritating as we worked our way towards that 100% game completion.