Despite having a seemingly endless number of franchises to draw inspiration from, it wasn't really surprising when we found out that Traveller’s Tales would following up 2012's LEGO The Lord of the Rings
with the tie-in to Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit
movie trilogy. What was a little surprising however was the timing of the release, given that the final film isn't scheduled to hit cinemas until later this year.
With an incomplete story to work with and LEGO The Hobbit
being the third LEGO
game to be released in six months, is the game worthy of your hard earned cash?LEGO The Hobbit
tells the story of how a youthful, and at first reluctant, Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Grey team up with a group of dwarves in an adventure to reclaim their mountain home, Erabor, and the treasures held there from the dragon, Smaug. Unlike the overly bloated movie trilogy however, Traveller’s Tales version is a more streamlined version of all of the major events of the first two films, with beautifully animated and amusing cut scenes - using voice overs and sound taken directly from the films – introducing you to all of the major plots and characters in bite-sized levels.
There is one major flaw with the story though, as it suddenly finishes with no real ending. With rumoured DLC to coincide with the third movie release in December, it does make you wonder why the game wasn't held back a few months instead of being released incomplete. It’s a disappointing end to an otherwise brilliantly told story.
For those of you that have played any of the previous LEGO
games, you’ll be instantly at home with the gameplay mechanics, with each level offering a number of small puzzles that need to be solved in order to progress, and an array of LEGO
structures and objects that you can smash in order to collect valuable studs or to build new items.
It can become a little monotonous after a few hours of gameplay, with only the odd action sequence, fight or boss battle to break up the recurring theme of smashing items and simple puzzle solving, but that’s not to say the game isn’t fun. There’s an element of charm and wit that makes you want to progress to the next level. Each level also seemed to be perfect in length, some are longer than others, but none outstay their welcome.
There are a few bugs to be found within the game. On a couple of occasions I had to restart a level due to the character that was needed to solve a puzzle being stuck in scenery, and whilst playing with Gandalf he would often melee when I wanted to use a ranged attack and vice versa. In the main they’re an annoyance rather than game-breaking issues, but they do hinder the experience.
In order to alleviate some of the repetition, Middle-earth, which acts as the game’s hub tying all of the levels and locations together, offers a vast array of side objectives, mini games and side quests. Whilst in the main they offer much of the same in gameplay terms, you’ll be rewarded with new items and characters to use when replaying levels. Whilst not essential to the game, exploring Middle-earth offers a welcome change of pace, and allows you to see more of the beautifully designed world.
There are some new additions to the standard gameplay we’ve seen before, with different items of loot required to build certain structures (like bridges) throughout the world. Smashing trees and crates will reward you with wood, whilst mining – which acts as a mini game in itself – will reward you with rarer items such as gems and precious metals. Once you have enough of each item, building is similar to the instruction builds found in The LEGO Movie Videogame
, with a mini game requiring you to select the correct LEGO
brick when prompted.
Buddy-Up attacks are another new addition, with pairs of dwarves being able to team up in order to progress to new areas, or to fight larger bosses like the Goblin King.
After the game’s ten-or-so hour long story, there’s a ton of replay value to be had in each level. If you want to collect all of the Mini Kits, Schematics, Mithril Bricks and other treasure items, you’ll need to use free play to reach areas that were previously out of reach due to the character limitations that the story imposes.
Whilst each of these additional collectibles requires a small puzzle to be solved, the time that it takes to figure them out is increased as you try to remember which character has the required special ability or weapon. Unlike previous games like LEGO Marvel Super Heroes
, most of the dwarves accompanying you on your adventure don’t have any personality or anything unique about their appearance. On more than one occasion I had to jump between numerous characters to figure out who had the pick axe to mine for gems, or who has the hammer to move larger objects.
The game does offer co-op, but unfortunately it’s only local with the screen splitting diagonally for each player. It works quite well, but it does seem like a major down point that you can’t jump in with a friend over Xbox LIVE.
In terms of achievements, LEGO The Hobbit
contains everything you’d expect to find in a LEGO
game, with achievements for completing levels, finding collectibles, and performing a few specific actions. For completionists, you’ll be looking at spending thirty, maybe even forty hours with the game due to the large number of collectibles and mini games you’ll need to work your way through towards the 100% completion achievement.
Whilst the lack of ending to an otherwise brilliantly told story is a huge omission from the game, LEGO The Hobbit
is a fun game that both adults and children will enjoy. The gameplay can become monotonous after long periods of play, but action sequences and side objectives provide a welcome break and change of pace.
If you’re not a fan of LEGO
games then this game won’t alter your view, but for those of you who are new to the series and for veterans alike, LEGO The Hobbit
offers a fun, well told and beautifully animated story.
The reviewer spent approx. 15 hours playing through the main story and exploring Middle-earth, unlocking 24 out of the game's 39 achievements. This Xbox One copy of the game was provided courtesy of the publisher.