October 18, 2016

Lego The Lord of the Rings (2012)

So some years ago Lego started releasing construction toys based on the Star Wars films, and some years after that somebody had the bright idea of turning them into a videogame. Lego Star Wars was an unexpected delight, combining the appeal of both the science fiction movie franchise and the perennially popular Lego bricks into one package. Buoyed by success, the developer Traveller's Tales arguably went a little bit overboard, releasing such videogames as Lego Indiana Jones, Lego Batman, Lego Pirates of the Caribbean, Lego Harry Potter and Lego Marvel's The Avengers. To be honest there were only a certain number of trips to the well before the concept grew tired, and whatever number that was I am betting it was less than the number of Lego-branded games that have been released.

So in among all of these pop culture adaptations came Lego The Lord of the Rings, based on the three films directed by Peter Jackson. Like most of the Lego games it was released to multiple gaming platforms. I decided to sample the Nintendo 3DS version, since I have been enjoying using the console recently and had never tried a handheld version of a Lego game before.

And herein lies my biggest problem in reviewing this game. I honestly don't know whether Lego The Lord of the Rings is a tiresome bore because the Lego format has simply been run into the ground, whether it is because the handheld version is a particularly poor translation of the home console edition, or if it is a combination of the two. Certainly whatever the reason this game is a chore to play.

There used to be a wonderful humour to the Lego games, in which Lego versions of the characters undertook absurd dumb-shows while loosely replicating the source film's plot. Lego The Lord of the Rings actually uses the dialogue from the films, which is a foolish choice because not only does it severely reduce the humour but (I assume) the limited audio capacity of the 3DS cartridge format has rendered the audio distorted and tinny. What humour remains feels muted and lacklustre. I think a big problem is that a serious narrative like The Lord of the Rings simply doesn't translate too well into this sort of game. The subject matter is simply unsuitable.

The problems are compounded by the sloppy and difficult control mechanisms. The buttons are not laid out in an instinctive manner, and there are a few too many characters to remember which one has which relevant special ability to progress in each level. The small screen doesn't help either, when you are trying to see what small object you have failed to pick up or in which direction your character should head.

I don't ultimately know why Lego The Lord of the Rings is bad. Maybe it's the format. Maybe it's the game. Either way it's not very much fun to play.

1 comment:

  1. Being a fan of the older Batman, Star Wars and Harry Potter I found the Lord of the Rings less enjoyable on the Xbox 360 a few years ago. I also got the Hobbit on PC from Steam as this was under £5, but found some of the same issues. But at that price it was still worth getting.

    Again, not sure if I did not enjoy the game due to playing this on a laptop with keys rather than a controller or just that the games are too similar.


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