"The Hidden Gem of Christmas 2012"

I've got to say, that I was one of the majority of people who was overlooking LEGO Lord of the Rings since it's release date matched up close to Assassins Creed 3, Black Ops 2, Halo 4, Resident Evil 6 and so on. The Wife, the non gamer even informed me that she would be willing to play this LEGO game since she had seen previews and thought that it would be epic. I began to do my research on this LEGO game and how it was different from others I played years ago. I still wasn't convinced and I wasn't willing to take a "leap of faith" at no game whatsoever. The Wife decided that she would buy it and.....I got to say, I was wrong about my feelings of staying clear of this one. So very wrong. I came home from work and she was playing it on the PS3. I sat down and watched as she was exploring Middle Earth going from the Shire to Bree then over to Weathertop and Rivendell. My jaw hit the floor as I was left in awe. Never before in a LEGO game, have I been so impressed by what the developers had done. Guys, I'll begin my review before I bore you to death but I will type this: Lego Lord of the Rings is THE hidden gem of Christmas 2012.

The bad parts of this review comes first. It's a LEGO game so it's got that light color texture feeling even when your in the darkest corners of Middle Earth like Mordor, Shelobs Lair and the Dead Marsh. If your looking for the graphics to emotionally play a part in your adventure, it's possible that you won't get it since the cuteness of this game is never ending character wise. The graphics of LEGO pieces were meant to be fun, funny and/or cute, don't expect scary, it stays the same throughout. Open world is where this game shines above all other LEGO games though. Earlier, I stated that Mordor, Shelobs Lair and Dead Marsh had that light texture color through out the game. That's not a bad thing because there are some areas in this game that you have a hard time actually realizing it's a LEGO game. When I first arrived over the cliff from the Trollshaw and the river, Rivendell came into view. There was so much to see and put simply, it was a breathtaking experience. It's a feeling like actually replaying the movie but also living in it. To say that it felt like you were living in the world and to top it off, it's a LEGO game, I have to say that my hate goes off to the developers for making the over world that awesome to have. Minor to major things graphically hurt this game and not because it's LEGO. For one, framerates and pop ups appear in A LOT of area since the over world is massive and there is so much to visually see. This also causes some slow down time while playing in certain areas. When I was in Mordor, I was using a sheep and racing around Mount Doom trying to beat the clock, I sometimes forgot I was in a race for good and bad reasons. Bad reason: something like a rock beside Mount Doom would just pop up out of nowhere. Good news: the rock that did pop up looked really detailed and made you want to check out other little things. Graphically, LEGO Lord of the Rings get my stamp of approval.

STORY: 10/10
If you have ever seen the Lord of the Rings trilogy, you know what to expect because this game's story is basically copy and past with minor exceptions like the Aragorn/Arwen love story because, frankly this is considered a kids game and kids are more interested in finding/collecting things and beating baddies over hoochy coochy grown up stuff. Being for real, those things were hinted at in minor scenes but not touched upon. You may look at that as a bad thing or a good thing since the main focus of LotR was to defeat evil and bond bromance between Frodo and Sam. Regardless of leaving minor details out, I'm still giving this a perfect score. It's Tolkiens story introduced to children. They (the developers) did it very well. You start out as a Hobbit who obtains this very evil ring forged by a dark lord many ages ago. Evil is growing upon the land of Middle Earth putting every good thing is peril, even the poor trees. The Hobbit escapes near death and reunites with old friends as well as make new ones. They form a group and vow to destroy the ring and rid the land of evil which is the ring that causes all this evil to happen. So, your group begins the adventure and some make it, others don't and along the way those friends of the Hobbit meets other friends that join together for one final epic battle of good vs. evil. That's all I can say with spoiling it. If you haven't watched LotR then.......*smacks you* GO WATCH IT or PLAY THIS GAME.

Here we are, the pinnacle of what every LEGO fan looks for when a new game arrives. LEGO always promises to give you stuff to do even after you beat the story mode. The Wife and I got thirty-eight percent when story mode was complete for us. In other LEGO games, your replayability factor focuses on simply replaying the levels over and over and over and over again and again until you find all the red/silver blocks and the lego chest to fully complete the level. It's generally no different in this game but the improvement relies on activities and tons of things to do within the open world. I found that the two most used characters that I used were Legolis and Sam. LEGO primarily focuses on puzzle solving and thinking, not fighting orcs but the fighting is there and for a LEGO game, it's the best it has ever been. Right off the bat, they pit you against the main bad guy of the trilogy/game much like they did in the movie and the baddies come in numbers and the puzzle solving also takes place. After this level is done, you are now a Frodo Baggins, a Hobbit who is in the open world exploring the Shire with fun things to do like racing, fishing, digging, shooting stuff and best of all, breaking all kinds of crap and obtaining LEGO pieces which is used as the money factor in this game to buy stuff that will help you in your journey. The camera was a huge let down for me when fighting or doing puzzles in the open world since it was slow to turn or at certain times move around. It's not craptastic by any means, but you can tell they could have worked on it a little more. Enemy AI is childish and enemies, even bosses are easy to defeat yet take a little brain power to pull off. For a child, this works well. For grown ups, it's awesome to watch Sam kicks Shelobs tail but it's so easy to pick up on how to kick her butt. You don't ever have to worry about death either since you always respawn where you last left off and never have to restart the level (unless your game freezes like mine did a few times). When your not exploring puzzles in the open world, you'll be doing levels/chapter within story mode basically doing the same things. Levels in LEGO are like previous LEGO levels, usually consisting of a 3D side scroller with a large amount of puzzles to proceed to the next area. If you have two players, you will have to work together a lot of times, to advance to the next area. With all it's ups and downs like some puzzles not being a real challenge to adults but with children, you still have to appreciate the concept behind what it was doing.

SOUND: 9/10
Epic. Though the music doesn't really give you any emotional feeling as it did in the movie since this is a LEGO game.

It's close to average with me. I was in this for the story and exploring the open world. The wife was in it for collecting everything and I watched her finish everything off to 100 percent. I guess for a non gamer, that's really good for replay value so I shouldn't blame the game for my boredom but this is my review so LEGO can only take me so far.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 12/04/12

Game Release: LEGO The Lord of the Rings (US, 11/13/12)

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