Little known fact: The first Xbox game which I ever achieved 1000/1000 was Lego Indiana Jones (the original, not the one that contained the film which shall not be named), and I did that because I loved the game so much I wanted to have everything. I think Lego LOTR tops that game for me though. It’s not because I’m a bigger LOTR fan than I am of Dr. Jones, but this game is just so wonderful. I didn’t expect this when I booted it up.
I knew it was going to be good, it’s a Lego game, but I didn’t expect so many small changes to make such a big difference. The controls have been tightened to near perfection. The best addition being the character control wheel, where you hold the character change button and you can pick a character on screen of your choice, which stops the ancient art of hammering the character change button until you finally reach the one you want. Given the number of LOTR characters you sometimes have to deal with makes this idea a blessing.
The voice acting is terrific (as most is ripped straight from the movies) if a little jarring at first. It’s really unusual to have the little Lego figures actually speak in the voices of their human counterparts. A few levels in, though, you adapt to it as if it’s always been there. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it’s an improvement over the former Sims-style random muffled sounds. The Lego Gollum is also creepy as all Hell when he speaks and bounds around in his brick-ish glory.
As is the way with all other Lego games, this game really shines when co-op is on the table. Unlike previous Lego iterations, in LOTR you can have two players doing two completely different aspects of the same quest on split-screen. Imagine player one as Gandalf fighting the Balrog while player two simultaneously fights their way out of the mine packed with orcs in tandem on the same screen. The same happens outside of the big battles, with each player being able to control one of the many separated parties’ members, only there it is optional as you can change between all playable characters. It’s thoroughly enjoyable and frankly makes this the best Lego co-op experience out there right now. I hope all future Lego titles take this page out of LOTR’s book.
The biggest downside to the game, though, is that the pacing seems rather off at times. Some battles, such as Helm’s Deep and The Black Gate, seem rather short. Whereas some other scenes, like climbing over the Misty Mountains, can last longer than the battles. It’s all still excellent, the Mines of Moria being my personal favourite, but during certain parts I wished there was more gameplay. It is not the case for all of the major events, but I fancied a bit more big Lego action at certain points that deserved them. I hope they don’t do a whole new release entitled: Lego Lord of the Rings Extended Cut to add it all in next Summer.
After writing all of this I consulted one of our resident Ready Up Juniors to clarify everything I was thinking was accurate from our biggest Lego game fan. They have completed every Lego game that has come before with at least a 90% completion rate, a majority being at 100%! They agreed with me. “The best Lego game so far” – so says our resident Lego game expert. The game is so great it has earned two recommendations through the writing of a single review. You can’t ask for better than that. It’s got all the Lord of the Rings writing awesomeness you’ve ever wanted, with a sprinkling of fantastic Lego gameplay. Buy, you fools!