It’s no secret that, for me, Traveller’s Tales‘ series of LEGO games are a bit of a guilty pleasure. Providing the perfect blend of engaging combat and platforming, TT Games have honed in on a style that fans have come to expect and enjoy, regardless of what properties are involved. When they secured the Lord of the Rings license, however, it felt like the LEGO franchise took a big leap forward, and had the potential of bringing in a ton of new gamers.
At Comic-Con 2012, in the splendidly decorated Hobbit portion of the Warner Bros. booth, we were treated to a hands-on demo of LEGO Lord of the Rings that showed the combat LEGO fans crave, and the types of interactions and attention to detail that Lord of the Rings fans will love.
The demo itself focused on the dwarf mine (Moria) from Fellowship, where the nine adventurers do battle with a horde of goblins and a giant troll. The sequence itself was preceded by a brief scene featuring the game’s use of movie dialogue – a choice that doesn’t diminish the game’s humor. In fact, the spoken dialogue from Peter Jackson’s films serves as the basis for some funny character moments. The scene isn’t a shot for shot remake of its counterpart in The Lord of the Rings (a tactic past LEGO games have used, though in “pantomime” form), but is just as worthy an adaptation as such a beloved film franchise deserves.
In terms of gameplay Lord of the Rings doesn’t do too much to reinvent the wheel, and borrows heavily from the mechanics of previous games. Levels and character animations have been greatly enhanced, bringing an attention to detail that oftentimes makes it easy to forget this is a LEGO game. Combat, however, is signature LEGO: smash bricks, attack enemies, and solve puzzles.
TT Games appears to be borrowing heavily from LEGO Batman 2 and its use of character switching for puzzle solving, but this game handles it in a naturalistic way. Players will constantly be switching between members of the Fellowship in order to use all of the characters’ inherit strengths. Legolas uses his bow, Gandalf uses his staff and sword, and the Hobbits use their agility and size in service of completing a larger goal, like taking down the lumbering troll featured in the first film.
All in all, LEGO Lord of the Rings is exactly what any LEGO or LotR fan would expect from this partnership. The design of the game is of the highest quality seen in any LEGO game thus far, and the reliance on all members of the Fellowship should make for some fantastic puzzles. Make no mistake — these are tried and tested LEGO mechanics, but as far as those go, this is one of the best.
What do you think of LEGO Lord of the Rings? Will it be the adaptation that brings you into Traveler’s Tales games?
Follow me on Twitter @ANTaormina