Lego: The Lord of the Rings Review

Title: LEGO: The Lord of the Rings
Developer: Traveler’s Tales 
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 1.8 GB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download | Retail

EU Availability: Digital Download | Retail

Lego games have had a unique relationship with handhelds, as I have mentioned in past reviews.  The 3DS has been unfortunate enough to get very different Lego games from its console counterparts.  The Vita has received this kind of treatment with its newest Lego game, Lego Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril.  The game was essentially, following the same plotline, but it played more like the Lego games that were released on the Game Boy Advance.

Whenever a Lego game is released on the Vita, many gamers question what it is going to be like.  Will it be like the console release or more like Lego Marvel turned out?  While both kinds of games are fun, some would like the handheld versions of the games to be similar to that of the console games.  I have seen some that question whether they wish to buy the PS3 or Vita version of a game.  This leads us to investigate some of the other Lego games that have released on the handheld.  Today, we will be taking a look at Lego: The Lord of the Rings.  Here is our in-depth review.

Lego Lord of the Rings came out when things started really getting popular with the Lego franchise.  There was already Lego Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Batman.  Due to the large install base of the Lord of the Rings franchise, and of the Lego toys, TT games began work on a Lego game that brought the entire movie trilogy into a single game.

Story


The plot involves the same plot as the movie trilogy.  In ancient Middle-Earth, the evil warlord Sauron, in the hopes of reclaiming a ring of unlimited power, sends an army of orcs and other beasts across Middle-Earth.  At the same time, the hobbit/Halfling Frodo Baggins, along with Gandalf the wizard, Legolas the elf, and several other allies, venture on a quest to destroy the ring in the fires of a volcano in Mordor, Sauron’s homeland.

The story originally spanned three books and was made into three Hollywood films.  Lego take this into account and adds comedy to it.  While the story scenes have voices and dialogue that are very much like scenes that happened in the films, TT Games has always added comedy to it.  Someone will run into a wall every so often, or fall in a well.  Almost every scene has a little chuckle moment in it.

Unfortunately, the story is part of where the Vita version of this game starts to get hurt.  While the scenes are straight from the console release and very humorous, they’re not all here.  Several scenes were removed from this release, for whatever reason.  This can confuse some who are not familiar with the books and movies.  Some scenes are skipped and lead you to question how the characters came to be where they are.

Gameplay


Lego games fall into the platform genre as well as the action genre.  Taking place in stages that take place in the Lord of the Rings universe, you are thrown in with two or more allies that you can switch between.  Your goal is to explore areas, complete puzzles and tasks to progress, and breaking everything in sight to collect Lego studs, the game’s form of currency.

Studs are an optional element of Lego games.  They are used in the shop to buy extras, such as unlocked characters, bonus effects, and more.  There are also a set number of studs you can obtain in each level to achieve “True Adventurer” status for that level.  This adds to game completion and helps you rack up studs for shop purchases.

Levels are set into two types.  First, we have the linear, story-progression levels, and then we have the open-world levels.  Story levels are more linear, with a strict path you need to take, while also giving you dialogue from the characters as you progress, essentially becoming very interactive scenes.  An example of this is when Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli are tracking after the kidnapped Pippin and Merry.

Open-world levels are a little different.  These areas don’t have a “True Adventurer” stud goal, and a simple puzzle to complete the task to unlock the next Story level.  The fun aspect of this is that there are various exits of these levels and it lets you revisit old open-world levels.  Essentially, it gives you a free-roam aspect of just exploring and collecting studs, if you don’t want to tackle the next Story level.


Completing tasks in levels is done by solving puzzles, using each characters’ specific skillsets.  There are many landscapes, objects, and paths that can only be accessed and used by certain types of characters.  For example, only elves like Legolas can reach high platforms, perform wall jumps, and use acrobatic poles, and only wizards like Gandalf can interact with magic-oriented objects.

In some past Lego games, you could only go into a level with two people in your party.  In Lego Lord of the Rings, you can have many.  In fact, during the Fellowship of the Ring arc, I had eight different characters to cycle through for different tasks.  When you reach an obstacle, your party’s avatars will appear and those that can use those objects will blink.  There are also hints that tell you which characters can use it.

As in past games, there is Free Play available.  When you complete a level in Story Mode, you unlock it for Free Play.  With this mode, you can revisit levels with different characters to try to unlock everything.  There are maps and character objects that you can find in each level, unlocking characters and more that you can buy in the shop.

As with the Story, there are also parts of the gameplay that bring the game down.  While this game plays exactly like the PS3 version of the game, which is great, there is missing content.  As with the story section, there are missing levels.  The first notable missing section is the level where Arwen horse-rides the ill Frodo to the land of the elves.  After Frodo gets struck, the Vita version jumps straight to him waking up in Rivendell.

Controls

Controls in Lego games normally aren’t too complex.  While there is more to do with Lego Lord of the Rings than games like Lego Marvel Superheroes: Universe in Peril, we do have a fair amount of controls to go over.  First of all, there are virtually no touch controls here.  You can tap the screen to see hints about the game, but that pretty much sums up what you can do with the touch screen.

Movement is controlled by the Left Analog Stick, and the camera is controlled by the Right Analog Stick.  Start brings up the menu, and Select brings up the Map of the area you’re in.  X lets your character jump, Square handles attacks, Triangle lets you switch between the current two characters on the map, and Circle is used to interact with objects.  The L and R buttons are done to cycle through the other characters in your party.

Most of the controls don’t have an issue.  It’s pretty easy to get used to it.  However, the Right Analog Stick and the Camera.  That can be problematic.  I found many instances where the character with me was right in front of the camera and it was hard to correct it.  I found this happening in nearly every level where the camera sets up right behind the character, mostly in the open-world levels.

Presentation


The presentation is one of the brightest part of this game.  There is a lot to bring the game down in the Story and Gameplay, but one thing the game does well is how it looks and sounds.  This is mostly due to what part of the game did come into this version looks and plays exactly like the home console version.

Visually, it looks very good.  There are a few jagged edges around the character models of the characters you use, though they are few and far between.  From a distance, you may not be able to tell that you’re not playing the PS3 version on the system.  It looks very well done, despite the game’s other drawbacks.

Audio is also well-done.  The voice-acting in the scenes sounds very similar to the same voice-acting from the movie.  There are a lot of great scenes with great voice-work, from Gollum’s raspy voice to Gandalf’s famous “You Shall Not Pass!” quotation.

Overall

All in all, Lego Lord of the Rings is a good attempt of bringing a home console Lego game onto the Vita.  It looks and plays very well, but is missing a lot of content that the home console version does have.  If you want to play the game on a handheld, this is your best bet.  What is in the game is fun and exciting.  It’s just not everything.  They released the game incomplete.

The PlayStation Vita Review Network rates Lego Lord of the Rings a 5/10 for not including the full game.  

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