The LEGO series has been quite a mixed bag, ranging from the truly excellent LEGO Marvel Super Heroes to the mediocre LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars. They are always great fun for the family and have always offered a unique take on licensed properties. So it was no surprise that a LEGO: The Hobbit game was on the cards, following the release of the highly anticipated Hobbit films. The game follows the events of the first two Hobbit films. Our hero, Bilbo Baggins, teams up with a company of dwarves who are on a quest to reclaim their homeland from the evil dragon Smaug. The game is quite fun for the most part, although it can be a frustrating affair at times.
We get the standard LEGO combat, exploration and puzzle solving in LEGO: The Hobbit. This isn’t the first time Traveller’s Tales have delved into Middle-earth, having previously developed the rather pleasant LEGO The Lord of the Rings. The game features an item creation system that is based around the collection of resources. You mine and collect materials to craft bridges or other useful things that help complete side missions or retrieve collectibles. Despite the slight tweaks to the challenges encountered in the game, you can’t help but think that it’s a bit of a button basher. Luckily, the enemies on hand are interesting and challenging enough to keep you slashing away.
One of the games biggest flaws is the familiarity between the characters. LEGO Marvel Super Heroes did such a phenomenal job of making each character feel unique and unfortunately that isn’t the case here. You often find yourself getting mixed up with the different dwarves and the combat just feels rather stale in comparison to previous LEGO titles. Each dwarf has a unique ability that can be used to help progress through the game. For example, Bombur can turn himself into a bouncing platform to help others navigate the environment.
The game is rather beautiful, despite people’s pre-conceived notions that LEGO games are not graphical powerhouses. The settings found in the game resemble the ones found in the films. The detail is exquisite and the world is full of goblins and monsters to keep you occupied. Some of the set pieces are tremendous, including the showdown against Smaug and the colossal battle between the stone giants. The cinematics are also aesthetically pleasing and provide comic relief for audiences. It can be hard to see at times due to the colour palette and the camera can often become a hindrance. You may find yourself blindly mashing a button as the camera adjusts itself. Like LEGO The Lord of the Rings, the game copy and pastes the audio from the actual films. It’s quite amusing to hear the growly and serious voices juxtaposed with the slapstick humour often associated with the LEGO games.
Keen players will be able to complete the main story within five-six hours, although there is far more to do in the world. Completing each main mission unlocks side-quests around the map, allowing players to lose themselves within Middle-earth. Traveller’s Tales have also implemented a campfire system that allows players to change the time of day thus allowing you to access new events. Fast travel is also present in the game and comes in the form of the great Eagles.
Unfortunately the narrative is a bit muddled throughout the game. It presumes you already know the source material; meaning younger audiences may struggle to understand certain aspects of the narrative. Luckily for me, I’m an avid fan of Tolkien’s work so I could fill in the gaps with my own crazy imagination. Following the original story in LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, you get a feeling that Traveller’s Tales have been a bit restricted in regards to what they can and can’t do. Oh and if you aren’t a fan of The Desolation of Smaug’s ending then you won’t be impressed here. It leaves you wanting more and it’s kind of ridiculous that they couldn’t wait an extra year to include the third movie.
LEGO: The Hobbit isn’t a revolutionary title, but fans of Tolkien’s work and past LEGO games will enjoy it. It’s a fun and charming experience, one that is significantly better when playing with friends or family members. The slight gameplay tweaks, such as new environmental puzzles, will offer something a little different. Like the other LEGO games, the camera can often be a hindrance and the story is a bit disjointed. It’s a beautiful little game that, in my opinion, suffers from being released after the brilliant LEGO Marvel Super Heroes.
+ Fun and visually pleasing
– Character variety, story and a bit repetitive
Written by: Ryan Mills
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I have always had a passion for writing, filmmaking and animating. I split my time between playing video games, writing about games and talking about games. If I’m not doing that I’m either cheering on my beloved Newcastle United or fighting crime