Since I’ve finished playing the story mode portion of the game, this seemed like a good point for a review.
First off, this one is a no-brainer for me. I love everything LOTR related and I’ve enjoyed every LEGO game I’ve played. So the combination pretty much can’t lose.
I played this on the Wii and clearly it was being pushed to its limits by this game. There were some glitches, there were a couple of crashes. It’s frustrating, but fortunately the regular game save points minimize that irritation.
The basic game play is similar to most of the previous LEGO games, but with some refinements. One thing I’ve noticed in the recent releases is that they have made an effort to provide a wider range of actions. That radically increases the variety of the puzzles.
In this case they heavily emphasize the team aspects of the game and if you’re playing solo you’ll regularly have to swap between characters to achieve things. There are a couple of levels where one player is an invisible Frodo sneaking around while the other characters work on other puzzles.
The only game play that wasn’t entirely satisfactory to me was the handful of sections where you are riding through a battlefield or running away. Really all you could do in these sections was move left to right and collect studs. Not much replay value in those bits.
There’s less LEGO silliness than usual unfortunately (though there are still some great sight gags). This is because the only audio they had to work with was pulled directly from the movies and that does limit them noticeably.
While the cut-scenes are effectively re-created, they do get quite annoying since you can’t easily skip them the first time. It wouldn’t be a big deal except for the tendency to give 2 minutes of gameplay followed by 1 minute of loading and then 3 minutes of cut-scene before you get into the guts of the level.
Graphically its’ really well done. Admittedly it is incredibly grey in later levels, but… have you watched the movies? There are lots of nice little touches like the exhausted versions of Sam and Frodo you can pick up near the end, who flop around and can’t jump. Or the way people teeter precariously when balancing on objects.
Having completed story mode I still have about 2/3rds of the game to complete. There are lots of additional characters to buy, objects to build at the Blacksmith, quests to undertake etc. Plus the fun of freeplay and trying levels using characters they weren’t intended for.
So basically, loved it. Played it far too much. Gonna keep playing it.
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