Sunday, May 5, 2013

Video Game Review: LEGO The Lord of the Rings

After getting to play awesome LEGO versions of Star Wars [1], Pirates of the Caribbean [2], and Harry Potter [3], I (and probably many, many others) began to fantasize about what other movie franchises would make great LEGO video games. Among my favorites were Alien, The Chronicles of Narnia, Jurassic Park, The Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, The Mummy, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Terminator, and X-Men.[4] But the one that absolutely just had to happen was LEGO The Lord of the Rings. I mean there's a character named Legolas, for crying out loud! On top of that, Warner Borthers owned the licensing rights and they'd already licensed several other properties to Traveller's Tales (Batman and Harry Potter) for LEGO games. But even though I was sure it was going to happen I was still pleasantly surprised when the announcement finally came out. Leann gave it to me for my birthday last year.

My verdict: This game was a lot of fun. I liked the huge map meta-level and I liked being able to quickly travel across the map instead of having to run the whole way, like in LEGO Harry Potter. I also appreciated that characters who didn't make it into the films could be purchased for freeplay (e.g. Radagast or Tom Bombadil). I wasn't as fond of the reuse of movie dialogue in the game—I preferred the non-specific grunts used in other LEGO games and the non-canoncal humor. But I only have one real major complaint. The AI characters still manage to 1. move when you'd like them to stay put (especially by getting in the way when you're trying to jump onto something, thus making you fall) or 2. not follow when you want them to. Admittedly, it's going to be hard for the developers to guess when I'll want each case, but there's one thing they could improve: sometimes, when I was switching characters during a long climb requiring me to change characters several times, it would suddenly decide to change the AI's character and switch me down to the bottom. By the time I'd switched back the AI had jumped down, forcing me to climb back up again. Not cool. Also, some of the hardest challenges in the game were jumps to catch a swinging vine. Even though for most of the game you can change your POV, at these points you can't. To make matters worse, once you fall you usually have a long way to climb to get back to the vine. Again, not cool. Another complaint about the POV: sometimes in close spaces it would freak out, zoom in really close, shake around, and generally make it impossible to see what you were doing. They should give you an extra control to zoom in or out so that that doesn't happen.[5]

I also have a hint that may help you at some point: Some mithril rocks (at least two) are impossible to destroy with the fireworks; you have to use the Berserker character.


[1] Read my review of LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars here.

[2] Read my review of LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean here.

[3] Read my reviews of LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1–4 and Years 5–7 here and here, respectively.

[4] It appears that the next LEGO game to come from Traveller's Tales will involve Marvel superheroes. See

[5] A couple other glitches I encountered: in the "Track Hobbits" level, every time I played I reached a point where it would no longer let me switch to Treebeard, even though I still needed him to finish the level. Very annoying. Also, one of the silver bricks near Amon Hen kept reappearing even though I'd beaten it repeatedly. This one wasn't annoying since I was able to rack up a lot of silver bricks to use for purchasing mithril items.

Image attributions:

LEGO Blocks is by NutMeg Confections, available at

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