Breaking The Hobbit: Lego Lord Of The Rings’ Demo

By Nathan Grayson on November 3rd, 2012 at 9:00 am.

Gandalf, astride a giant pair of ears.

Lego Lord of the Rings is still a few weeks from building a bridge to our machines (and hopefully, using its quirky brand of Lego charm, our hearts), but Traveler’s Tales has seen fit to release one mythical creature from its grasp early: an honest-to-goodness, flesh-and-brick pre-release demo. In the modern age of un-middle Earth, these poor things are all but extinct, so treat it with care. Unless you find it to be kind of sub-par, anyway. Then feel free to scold it for not quite living up to the expectations set by its made-of-plastic, nearly fantastic brothers and sisters as I’m about to after the break.

The demo sees you fight your way through the entirety of Helm’s Deep – aka, the Big Battle from the second movie. It’s all done up in suitably epic style, too, with seas of Lego orcs crashing against ancient walls while you clash blades with climbers overhead. To be honest, though, most of it’s pretty tedious. By the time I finished, I’m pretty sure I knocked down enough ladders to be renamed Sir Nathaniel Laddersbane in the overwrought fantastical parlance of the time – a name which I intend to keep and print on business cards. Meanwhile, Legolas’ archery felt frustratingly clunky (which isn’t really acceptable when it’s an essential mid-combat puzzle-solving tool) and I encountered one game-breaking bug that forced me to start the whole thing over again.

Now, the other Lego games are far from perfect, but their lighthearted yet clever humor often saves the day when their heroes aren’t having the best time of it. Here, though, all I got were a couple quick sight gags. The rest was simply dialogue filtered straight from the movies paired with the occasional exaggerated Lego facial expression. Most of the time, the tones of the two sides clashed more than they complemented. Admittedly, a few of the set-pieces were still pretty great – for instance, a horseback death charge that involves mowing down countless members of Saruman’s legions – but most of the demo struck me as fairly ho-hum. Nothing really stood out, and it felt constrained by the source material – or at least, by the way Traveler’s Tales chose to approach the source material.

Maybe the rest will be better, but if you can’t lord of the wring much inspiration out of Helm’s Deep, you might be in trouble. I would very much like to be wrong, though. Who knows? Maybe I already am. Give the demo a shot and see what you think. Then give the world a piece of your mind (figuratively, I mean; you are not a Lego).

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32 Comments »

  1. SuperNashwanPower says:

    With the name legolas I’m amazed this didn’t happen years ago

  2. Xzi says:

    I never really understood the need for the Lego games. They seem to draw universal acclaim, but from what I’ve played of them, they feel like Kid’s Bop versions of the universes they portray at worst, and Scary Movie/Superhero Movie-type mock-ups at best.

    And that’s certainly not because of the Lego theme itself, as playing with the actual physical toys is a lot more enjoyable, but more because of the game mechanics and/or tediousness that you described. I don’t know why any teen or adult would bother when they could play Arkham City over Lego Batman or KoTOR over Lego Star Wars, I guess.

    • GameCat says:

      Why don’t play both?

    • Text_Fish says:

      Generally speaking the Lego games are a triumph of style over substance, but sometimes that’s okay. At their best they’re super-fun in COOP, especially when there’s beer involved.

      • x1501 says:

        They used to be super-fun in co-op. Now that they replaced the shared screen with that nauseating “dynamic” split screen of theirs, none of my previously addicted family members—including my young nephew, a huge Pirates of the Caribbean fan—ever want to play any of the newer games in co-op. The inability to toggle that constant screen rotation off is just ridiculous.

        • Ragnar says:

          I thought the screen splitting was actually a nice feature, no longer forcing you to be stuck on the side of the screen when your young partner decides to wander off to who knows where.

        • mechabuddha says:

          Interesting. The change to dynamic split-screen was one of the things that made these games bearable for me and my family.

        • Sparkasaurusmex says:

          Yeah that’s a weird perspective…
          Lego coops splitting split screen is awesome and is THE way to do co-op. I only wish more people would copy the Lego games so I could play more Co-op with the kids.

          None of us like the old way the Lego games did it, where you just got stuck in the same area and can’t advance if the other player isn’t coming. That is frustrating and TT’s solution is elegant and brilliant.

          • x1501 says:

            You all misunderstood. I’m not talking about the split screen. I’m talking about the “dynamic” part of it. If you and your co-op partner prefer to stay close to each other, it can turn your game experience into a complete nightmare. Not only the split view rapidly and often unexpectedly rotates in alternate directions depending on the relative positions of the players’ characters, the view also keeps switching between shared and split depending on the characters’ distance from each other. The problem with that is that since the switching is way too sensitive and occurs while you’re still very close and can easily see one another, you often end up seeing two sets of the characters acting simultaneously on both views. It’s a mess.

            And while this may not seem that big of a deal for hardened Descent veterans like you and me, many young gamers and their casual parents find it confusing or nauseating as hell. LEGO Star Wars III had 3 split screen options: Dynamic, Fixed Vertical, and Fixed Horizontal. Seeing that so many people complained about the view rotation, why on earth would they want to exclude these optional choices from the rest of their dynamic split-screen games? Makes no sense at all.

    • ThinkAndGrowWitcher says:

      Maybe you’ve got to lego of your inhibitions, stop blocking out the fun factor, and quit acting like a brick? [my apolegogies].

      One answer I can certainly provide in answer to ‘why?’ is the great fun to be had in co-op. Personally, I’ve had more fun (along with my son) during a few levels of daft destruction in Lego Batman and Lego Potter than many other games put together.

      One thing that’s easy to miss in some of the games is the amount of detail uncovered in the scenery. If, fore example, you’re looking to simply get from A-to-B in a level, you’ll very easily miss out over half of the game’s contents.

      As in all gaming life though, each to their own. And I can understand how they could become too repetitive for many in solo mode.

    • bill says:

      They do have a huge amount of charm, usually. And they seem great for things like drop in co-op with your kids. (but if you have kids, you have an excuse to play with real lego!).

      I found the few i tried a little tedious. Mainly because they didn’t seem to involve much more than hitting the attack button and collecting bits. But it wasn’t offensive tediousness.

      It was very disappointing that you couldn’t really build anything though.

    • InternetBatman says:

      You can play both, it’s not a binary decision. Some of the humor is funny, like in Lego Harry Potter when Cedrick Diggory gets hit by Avada Kedavra his body disassembles. More importantly, it’s a fun little platformer/beat em up. It’s getting a little repetitive at this point, but its core is still a really fun game.

    • Ravelle says:

      To answer your why: It’s great collecting co-op fun and those games are lacking these days.

    • MikoSquiz says:

      I thought two “Lego [Franchise]” games was enough, and three was already too many. They’re all the same. It’s like those movie themed Angry Birds things.

  3. BrendanJB says:

    Ahhh, RPS. I come for the content, but I stay for the puns.

  4. Text_Fish says:

    SHHH! You might scare the concept of demos away. :(

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  6. ThinkAndGrowWitcher says:

    [Reply fail]

  7. bill says:

    You can’t break a hobbit! That’s just cruel!

  8. Premium User Badge

    DarkLiberator says:

    They need to work on the controls, they’re kinda horrid.

  9. Ravelle says:

    Played the demo and loved it, can’t wait to play the game with my bro.

  10. Spidery_Yoda says:

    I was a little let down by it as well. Legolas’ arrows were far too slow to use, and whenever I got in combat with him (when he already had his bow out) I just died straight away, and the targeting is too slow when you’re being attacked.

    The fact that all the cut scenes are basically just the film again was a bit disappointing as well, but to be expected because of how they’re doing it.

    It also seemed like Aragorn could do nothing special and was just tagging along with Gimli and Legolas.

    Still looking forward to it though. There hasn’t been a game where you can play the whole of Lord of the Rings before. Should be good. Also the PC versions always only cost £20 anyway which is great.

  11. Citrus says:

    I have only played two Lego games (Star Wars) but never went back to the series despite the humorous take on the stories because of the geric/boring gameplay.

    I like their trailers though. But that’s pretty much the amount of “Lego” dose I am willing to take.

    I remember seeing some trailer recently of open-world GTA like Lego game they were working on. I was more interested in that but it probably isn’t coming to PC? (I don’t know) Oh well.

  12. mechabuddha says:

    Poo. The games crashes on load for me. What a shame.

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  14. Universal Quitter says:

    Your pre-review of this reminds me of the Family Guy star wars effect. The first one was funny, insightful, and at least attempted to make original jokes about pop-culture and the film. By the time they got to the 3rd one, it was just Star Wars with Seth McFarlane characters, with a couple of very predictable, safe jokes thrown in.

    Perhaps something similar has occurred with the LEGO series? It’s not like either one is know for it’s depth or emotional weight, but they still manage to screw it up.