Review by Xbyte

Reviewed: 01/03/05

Brilliantly made. Fans will love it.

The Hobbit, originally a novel by JRR Tolkien, has now been made into a video game. And it has been made brilliantly. From the graphics to the gameplay, this game is near perfect. You play as Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit of the Shire, in this prologue to the Lord of the Rings.

The "Ocarina of Time-like" gameplay of The Hobbit is sure to capture some people's attention. But right off the bat, instead of your normal sword that you would get in any original fantasy game, you get Bilbo's own walking stick as a weapon. This stick can be used in two ways. As a weapon, and as a pole-vaulting type object, which allows you to jump further than you could without it. The controls of the game are easy to get used to. The only problem some people may have is with the camera, which at some points can get stuck in places you don't want it. The game is full of enemies that are well known from the books, such as goblins, spiders, wolves, and even three, monstrous trolls. It also has many puzzles, which actually aren't extremely hard to solve. Some will keep you guessing for a while, but won't keep you stuck so long that you get too frustrated.

Of course, the story comes right from the writing of Tolkien. The game does a superb job of retelling it. Nearly all the characters and locations from the book have been put into the game. You'll find yourself in the Shire, Gollum's cave, and in the lair of Smaug, which I will go into more detail with later. Hard-core Tolkien lovers will thoroughly enjoy this game. And even if you aren't too familiar with the works of Professor Tolkien, you may like this game just as much. It captures the atmosphere of the book greatly.

The graphics of this game are, quite frankly, beautiful. Right off the bat, you find yourself in the Shire, home of Bilbo Baggins and many other hobbits, and it looks absolutely brilliant. The character design may seem cartoonish to some, but the surroundings are just amazing. At some points you'll find yourself in a dark, depressing cave, and then you'll emerge out of the cave and see the bright, beautiful sunrise. It is quite an experience, even in the game. And the lair of Smaug is one of the locations which was done very nicely. You'll see what I am talking about if you play the game. The music and sound effects are also top notch. The score is awesome, and sounds exactly like something that should be associated with the Lord of the Rings franchise. And the sound effects are done extremely well. If you are in a cave, you will hear bats or spiders in the distance, waiting to attack. If you are outside, you may hear wolves in the distance, and sure enough, you'll end up facing them sooner or later. They sound real, and that's part of the reason this game is so good.

Play Time/Replayability
There are plenty of levels to play through, and every single one of them are different. You'll be spending plenty of time in each level, solving puzzles and searching for keys or coins or courage points, to boost your life. Unfortunately, after finishing the game, you'll feel complete. There isn't too much to come back for, except for maybe the thrill of the story.

Final Recommendation
If you are a die-hard Tolkien reading, buy this game and enjoy it. If you aren't so much a die hard fan, I advise you to rent it. You might just like it enough to start reading the book.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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