You know, it was only a matter of time until the Lego people got their blocky hands on Peter Jackson's film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's trilogy 'The Lord of the Rings'. That time has come in the form of Lego Lord of the Rings -- a whimsical video game version of the epic major motion pictures that provides a gameplay experience that isn't half-bad.
Featuring a Lego-sized adaptation of the lengthy, yet enjoyable film trilogy, Lego Lord of the Rings treats players to a number of fan-favorite scenes -- as well as those critical to the overall plot. There is also a good deal of fan service sprinkled in here and there. This includes the use of actual lines of dialogue from the films. The slapstick humor players have come to expect from Lego video game adaptations is also present -- some might say a bit too present -- but the developers at Traveller's Tales did what they could to balance the fun of the Lego brand with the attitude (some might say sacrity) of 'Lord of the Rings'.
In addition to the slightly off-beat re-telling of Jackson's movies, players are also treated to a wide variety of characters with whom they can play. Most of these are those one familiar with the movies would expect to see, including Gandalf, Frodo, and Legolas. With these characters comes main story quests, set pieces, and epic (yet condensed) locations ripped directly from the movies.
These locations, starting with Bag End and going all the way to the Black Gates and beyond, have been scaled-down to fit a Lego world, but they are no less impressive. Traveller's Tales made these environments mostly open for exploration, and exploration is often times rewarded with in-game collectibles and other goodies (and sometimes baddies as well). Having so many places to discover extend the life of this game well beyond its default narrative.
This Lego-tastic journey isn't with out its hang-ups, however, as there are a handful of technical hiccups throughout. The biggest offender has got to be the game's camera. While it behaves more often than it doesn't, there are times when it seems to get hung up; or sets itself at such an angle that it's difficult to see around your character. During exploration, this is little more than an annoyance, but when it occurs during combat it can be quite the headache. Another issue to be had with Lego Lord of the Rings is its unsatisfactory AI character pathfinding. More than a couple of times during this review's playthrough, AI-controlled characters were getting stuck on or against environmental set pieces. The easiest way around this problem, of course, is simply playing co-op with a friend (or enemy, if you so choose).
Those issues and a minor annoyance here and there aside, Lego Lord of the Rings is a fairly good play and a surprisingly faithful adaptation of Peter Jackson's films. But remember: One does not simply walk into Mordor -- even if it's made of Legos.
Final Game Guys grade: B-
(WBIE provided a PS3 copy of this game for review.)