Lego Lord of the Rings is a fun, if formulaic game. As one of the Lego (property) series of games, the gameplay is about following a Lego simulacrum of a character through various Lord of the Rings based levels. In these levels, you roughly follow the plot of the three movies, only using Lego weapons and circumventing obstacles using Lego blocks. And as in other Lego games, this is more often than not accomplished through tongue-in-cheek satire of what happens during the movie.
The Lego games derive their funniest moments through the characters pantomiming what they're doing, as it's rather hard to communicate a storyline being a Lego figurine. Thus, it's rather jarring when the characters all talk using audio from the three movies. Though the characters started talking in the last Lego game (Lego Batman 2) they at least had original lines to say, which could be made funny accordingly. Unfortunately, for the most part, everyone is only allowed to audio from the movies, which was not strong on audible jokes. This creates mood whiplash as the deadly serious audio is intercut with characters making funny faces or other sight gags.
Gameplay in Lego Lord of the Rings is much the same as in previous Lego games - this is a 3D platformer with players ignoring what isn't built with Legos and smashing up everything that is, then using the wreckage to build things that will get them through the rest of the level. The latest game's big improvement that players can now rotate the camera in most circumstances. This is a huge boon, as previous Lego games have had a lot of difficulty performing 3D jumps with a fixed camera angle. Unfortunately, this feature only works about thee-fourths of the time - in some circumstances, using the right stick will only cause the camera to pan left or right instead of rotating to give the right perspective on a tricky jump. That said, as always, the Lego series of games have always been wonderful cooperative multiplayer platformers, and this one is no exception.
Additionally, there are several points when playing with two people where each person follows a different party on a split-screen. This is somewhat disconcerting, as players can't switch across to the other party to help, as well as it's somewhat difficult to tell what's going on in the story. It's fairly easy to follow a split-screen story on film, but when you add the wrinkle of each player controlling one side, it's hard to tell what's what. Players can also do this on the Middle-Earth overworld, but switch between parties fairly easily. Normally, this is fine, but certain events force one player's screen to completely override the other's. Crafting items in the blacksmith is an especially irritating example, as this forces an override three separate times where it really isn't necessary to do so once.
Another departure in Lego Lord of the Rings is the unfortunate addition of fetch quests - described explicitly as such in the achievements. Various people of Middle-Earth need various things that need to be found or crafted, and they'll reward you with red bricks you can buy that give you cheats, or mythril bricks with which you can craft various things. The whole thing feels like an unnecessary middle step - why can't you just find the bricks yourself in the first place? Also, each of the people that need you to fetch items for them have new voice-acted lines, the only ones that do. Why couldn't these have been integrated into the main plotline?
As this is TrueAchievements, I should talk a bit about said achievements. They're fairly easy to get, and none require excessive collection. One does require completing a level in co-op, so watch out there. Overall, these should be easily collected in a five-day rental or so.
In a nutshell, this is a amusing, funny game with a few problems. It's highly recommended for gamers with friends that don't have their level of skill with its cooperative multiplayer. It's also highly recommended for fans of Lord of the Rings. The only caveats are that there are some frustrating platforming parts and that it's over too soon. It's worth at least a rent.