Reviews

One Game to Rule Them All: 'Lego The Lord of the Rings'

Darwin Hang

Over the past few years for many viewers seeing The Lord of the Rings together made the films into family events. And it is the "family event," the co-op mode, of the video game that is by far the best thing about this game.


Lego The Lord of the Rings

Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Format: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC
Price: $59.99
Players: 2
ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+
Developer: Traveller's Tales
Release Date: 2012-11-13
URL

The Lego Lord of the Rings is a great game to play with a loved one. That sentence could sum up all of the Lego branded games, which is probably the only reason they keep on getting made. The Lord of the Rings films were all released around December of years past, and combined with the Christian themes and millions of readers, made seeing the films into family events. And it is the "family event," the co-op mode, of the video game that is by far the best part about this game. Even though I liked the LOTR movie series, I would have gotten through this game alone. The creators and developers must know that, since they have optimized the main storyline for a co-op experience.

It is weird to play The Lego Lord of the Rings at this point in my life and think about what type of person would actually enjoy this game. It is a little too intense for the younger kids that would actually enjoy playing with Legos, though the same could be said about the films. On the flipside, it may not have enough substance for older kids already playing “M” rated games. For the first time in a while, my wife and I actually enjoyed playing a video game (that wasn't kinect based) together. This is a huge deal. I love playing video games, and my wife gets upset when I wake up on a Saturday or Sunday (or on the “occasional” weekday) and fire up a console to start playing a game. I talked to people about their experience with Lego video games, and it seems like something the non-gamer in the relationship actually suggests playing. We both liked The Lord of the Rings movies, and we both like puzzles, so this game is a better fit for us than Lego Batman.

Getting through the game's main storyline takes about as long as watching the trilogy, but after I was finished, I had no desire to go back and do all of the side missions and replay main missions to unlock any extra content. Any characters that I did buy, I only came across by accident. Most of the characters are redundant, and the “specialist” characters (that can fish or climb certain areas, for example) become useless. Some of the side missions are silly and playful, such as helping orcs find lost cooking utensils. The game is billed as open-world, which it is, though thankfully not to scale.

The trouble with playing co-op is that it is less likely for both people to want to go and do the side quests and to keep focused on those side quests. I didn’t have the urge to go back and do side quests by myself. With increasing age there has been a decreasing interest in doing all the side missions in most of the games I play.

Even though it is Lego branded, the game still feels epic. The scale is impressively huge during action sequences, though the last Lego game I played was the first Lego Star Wars game on PS2 (Episodes I-III, before the “original” trilogy came out). There is also the built in advantage of the property being based on The Lord of the Rings. A great choice was having side-by-side arcs during some parts of the story that make each player contribute in similar amounts. This prevents one player from dominating all the gameplay, though sometimes we would switch controllers. This is obviously a game that is best played in co-op mode, and I wish there were more games that tailored to such co-op experiences.

However, in co-op mode, there is a dynamic split screen effect set up by default. Ideally the dynamic split screen would add precious screen space for each player. While I like the idea, this makes it more difficult to track your location in the level and leads to confusion during some of the larger battles. This mode can be switched off and doing so makes gameplay more enjoyable.

The platforming while crossing through the dead marshes was the most frustrating aspect of gameplay, as we kept getting pushed back to the beginning of the section. The fact that you can’t really die in the game is a plus, as the controls are not the most sensitive and it is easy fall of ledges, though that could be due to the stiffness of the Lego characters legs (they really only have a hip joint).

The big action pieces themselves are especially fun, though there are some scenes that were added or altered for co-op gameplay. At least according to the game, there was a battle scene that happened between Aragon pulling out his sword and the dead armies agreeing to fight for him that was cut from the movie. I haven’t read the books, but the game is supposed to be based on the films, so it is surprising when something that didn’t happen in the movie occurs in the game. Most of the time, the additions do make the game more fun, such as this battle between Aragon and the leader of the Army of the Dead.

A semi-plus is the inclusion of dialogue, which include sound bites taken from the films. Though these bites are sometimes awkwardly cut and pasted into the game, they still add to the authenticity of the experience. There will probably be nobody that plays this game that hasn't seen the films, so splicing in dialog straight from the movie helps to remind us of our location in the larger story. There was some charm in having the characters mime in early Lego games, but there is a reason that showings of The Artist weren’t selling out. We (general consumers) want high definition graphics, we want large-scale action pieces, and we want dialogue.

Of course, the Lego series of video games are simultaneously movie and toy tie-ins. The timing of the The Lego Lord of the Rings release date caused it to basically coincide with the release of The Hobbit. Thus, this game also serves as an actively consumed refresher foe less hardcore fans. It also might be faster to get through, depending on which versions of the movies you watch.

Playing the Lego tie-in to The Lord of the Rings is actually preferable to playing a standard tie-in, and it is easy to see all movie tie-in games being replaced with these more enjoyable Lego experiences. Even without replay value, the game delivers a great co-op experience alongside its popular source material. The Lego series of games delivers again, as Lego The Lord of the Rings does not waste that material.

7

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image