Handheld Travels To Middle-Earth.
With the release of The Hobbit this year Lego seized the opportunity to release sets based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic work as well as its follow-up, The Lord of the Rings. Now as any gamer should know this inevitably meant that we would be receiving a video game translation. With Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean and Batman already under their gaming belt the folks at Traveller’s Tales now had the opportunity to bring one of the most beloved film trilogies to life in the wonderful world of Lego. This is the review of that game’s not as large but still enjoyable cousin.
By now, if you have played any of the Lego licensed games (Star Wars, Pirates, etc.) then you know what you are going to get here. Like my Lego Batman 2 review, you are basically fulfilling your inner loot monster by bashing everything in sight in the pursuit of Lego pieces to build structures to inaccessible areas and to spend on unlockable characters.
As I said, by now we know the name of the game so the real appeal is the license that is attached to it and The Lord of the Rings is as strong as it gets. You will make your way through all three movies with many different variations of party members from the entire fellowship with Legolas, Gimli, Boromir and more, then swapping to two or three member groups according to where in the trilogy story you happen to be playing through.
The real shame of this game is that it is, once again, a port of the 3DS version of the game which truly undermines the power of the Vita. The system is billed as a console in your hands and guess what? It is. So the fact we are made to play a simple port of another handheld is a bit disappointing knowing that this game could easily have been closer to the console version with just a little extra work. The back box art promises to take you through the open world of Middle-Earth and having played Lego Batman 2 extensively on a console apparently my definition of open world and Traveller’s Tales differs greatly. The areas are big enough to explore around to gather Lego pieces and solve minor puzzles but you will not lose yourself in the vast expanse of Tolkien’s world.
Controls are serviceable especially since the Vita has dual analogs. Make no mistake, this is a button masher and your square button will get a workout. Some areas are a bit frustrating with jumping onto small places with no real shadow to guide you as to where you are so some jumps are guesswork. Nothing will overly frustrate you but the feel of the controls are not top notch either.
On the good side is that almost every main character from the trilogy are represented well with each one having a special ability that you must use to access hidden pieces needed to continue. Gandalf can float objects into place, Gimli can bum rush into things and Aragorn can use his tracking ability are just a few of the attributes that you have at your disposal. There are some places, especially in the Fellowship section, where you will be using four or five members of your party to get secret items together.
Like Lego Batman, The Lord of the Rings features voice acting. They have taken samples from the Peter Jackson trilogy and used them throughout the game. On the downside they do not sound all that good. It sounds like a cassette tape played over clear music. So the cut in and cut out of the voices is very noticeable but the inclusion of the movie dialogue is still a welcome sound. Also there are good bits of the soundtrack in the background and it sounds much better than the dialogue. It really does add a lot to be able to run around The Shire and hear Howard Shore’s soft hobbit theme playing.
In the end, if you are trying to decide between the console and handheld versions there really is no contest. And it still upsets me that a system as powerful as the Vita is still getting stuck with 3DS ports which hinder the quality of the game but honestly I had a little bit of fun with [amazon_link id=”B0088MVOU2″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Lego The Lord of the Rings[/amazon_link]. If you are looking for a Vita game to sink a few hours into and get your Tolkien fix it is not a bad game to pick up. Given that is on sale.