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Breaking The Hobbit: Lego Lord Of The Rings' Demo

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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Nathan Grayson

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