Title: LEGO The Hobbit
Developer: Traveller’s Tales
Publisher: Warner Bros
Platform(s): Windows, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS Vita, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS
From the moment you step into the mysterious and vibrant world of LEGO Middle Earth, you know for a fact that this journey into J.R.R. Tolkien’s imaginations will be one of the most unique renditions that you will encounter in your life. I am a big fan of the LEGO franchise, especially the anime movies (Batman), but does LEGO The Hobbit, the Video Game live up to those expectations? To unravel that, keep digging this article up.
Based entirely on Tolkien’s prequel book to the Lord of the Rings series, “The Hobbit, or There and Back Again”, LEGO The Hobbit borrows its storytelling and level situations from the more popular Peter Jackson film series of the same. The LEGO version uses the same Howard Shore movie soundtrack to allure the fanatics to a crazy trap. The game opens with a once-renowned burglar Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, narrating his story to Frodo Baggins, of The Shire. Throughout the game, there is a healthy back and forth within the storytelling that keeps the players hooked to the next chapter, even though they’ve read the book or seen the film. The world of Middle Earth looks stunning, with or without the standard LEGO building blocks, and more importantly, at times, LEGO Hobbit spurs the player to go out and explore the world for fun. One won’t expect a plethora of content from a LEGO game, and that’s when this game surprises them all, with authentic Middle Earth lying practically anywhere. Otherwise it is a turn based, third person puzzle game that keeps you glued to the journey more than the destination. Some of the sequences will really catch your attention throughout the story, like my favourite escapades from the Orcs army.
The LEGO Middle Earth and Creatures/Characters
Most of the famous scenes from the movies are rendered in this game. Players start their journey as the Dwarf King Thorin Oakenshield in the great golden kingdom of Erebor. Plundering through a mass of LEGO blocks, the players reach the foot of the Lonely Mountain, as Smaug, the Dragon, breathes its blocks of LEGO Fire. Rivendell is my favourite place amongst all in LEGO The Hobbit, it is full of roads, glowing ferns and streamlines. Throughout Middle Earth, you will find characters that will set you out on side quests, to find Po-Tay-To’s and other goodly stuff. The dwarves in the game are visualised just like the book or the film, with most of the cut scenes fetching a good score on the humour part, in case you haven’t met Fili and Kili yet. The likes of Gandalf and Bilbo have been exceptionally voice acted, even though I was amused that I didn’t get to see much of Radagast, the woods wizard. Rooting for the younger gamers, each LEGO The Hobbit character has been blessed with cuteness even on the faces of some of the eeriest Orcs from the Necromancer’s camp. Humour is innate in LEGO The Hobbit, the scene about Azog losing his arm will flip you off the seat laughing. Not to mention, the grandest of all the LEGO characters is that of Smaug himself.
The legacy of the LEGO games lie in its intricate and theme based puzzles, and LEGO The Hobbit doesn’t fall any short of blowing your mind away in that category. Explore caves like Tomb Raider and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag to discover and complete new LEGO puzzles. Break LEGO blocks and rearrange them to form new shapes or items to complete the puzzle. Puzzle solving is at times dependant on the character you deploy to complete it, so be wary of switching between characters from time to time. Each puzzle takes up some of your experience blocks, and each puzzle will ask some items from your loot bag as ingredients, failing which, the puzzle won’t start. Thanks to the brimming world of LEGO The Hobbit, you can break some LEGO elements within the very map to salvage some of that loot. Some puzzles become elementary to the main mission, and it makes you to switch your roles between the destroyer and the creator. Even though most of the puzzles are satisfactory, the confusing UI of LEGO The Hobbit may not provide hints enough to surpass the level. Switching between known and unknown characters become lethargic in case you want to breeze through a mission.
Combat and Moves
Most of the combat is based on hack and slash, by using the normal sword or axe swing and the secondary heavy move (holding down the O button on the PS3 for some seconds activates it). Gandalf’s Wizard Staff and some of the Drawfs Shovel/Catapult tools become important to traverse the surroundings. LEGO The Hobbit focuses on a lot of Co-Op play, as you will need to pair up to defeat bigger monsters or break down tougher doors. The overall challenges look fair but the brimming environment and a horde of other manageable characters sometime mar what otherwise could’ve been flawless mechanics. The fact that if you accidentally kill one of your characters, the blocks break away and become one again, restoring the character is one of the most beautiful truths of a LEGO franchise.
Visuals and Sound
Like I mentioned earlier, the visuals are nothing short of a spectacle, as you traverse each LEGO Middle Earth level and unravel its secrets. The game stands out with other platformer’s games like Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons in this regard. The Shire is brimming with little elements from the Hobbit way of life that somehow feels better than its movie counterpart. To submerge in this Middle Earth is easy, and with the LEGO touch, it all becomes plain simple. The soundtracks from the famous Peter Jackson version of The Hobbit meet you in this game, along with a classic The Hobbit style music welcoming you in and out of the menu screen. The best visual bits from the game would definitely be its cut scenes, as I could not skip any of them throughout my playthrough.
The Hobbit stands as an example of how classic fiction can gel with the brand LEGO imaginations; in the end it is a spectacular display of both the brands. But as a game it might have to work a lot, in order to convince me to pick it up again. Loosely tied Co-Op chances, a horribly confusing button mechanics and UI and respawning enemies don’t do justice to this otherwise peace loving eye candy.