LEGO The Lord of the Rings Review

By Alex Rubens - Posted Nov 21, 2012

LEGO Lord of the Rings improves upon the proven formula by finding the perfect median between past titles. LEGO LotR has fluid combat, a huge sense of scale, and plenty of jokes to break up the action.

The Pros
  • It's easily one of the best LEGO games to date.
  • Large set pieces are perfect for bigger puzzles.
  • Combat animations are crisp and fluid, giving combat an epic feel to it.
The Cons
  • The platforming isn't as strong as it was in previous LEGO titles.
  • Marred by a few technical glitches

LEGO Lord of the Rings Review:

LEGO Lord of the Rings takes the small improvements made in recent LEGO titles and implements them in a major way. It isn’t an open world title like LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes was, but it is the largest non-open world LEGO game to date. Environments seem bigger, there’s more space to them, which allows for more complicated puzzles and platforming.

Even as LEGOlas, platforming struggles.

This does good things in terms of story telling and visuals, but it ends up hindering the platforming, one of the strongest areas of the LEGO series in the past. It’s too easy to get caught up trying to make the same jump a dozen times because it can be hard to judge how far you need to jump. Even if you do manage to judge the distance correctly, it’s all to easy to slide off the edge anyway. It’s extremely frustrating and weird when the platforming has been so great in past titles.

The formula remains pretty similar to past titles, progressing you through the story one mission at a time, while also giving you the option to return to a hub world –Middle Earth in this case– to run around. There isn’t much to do in Middle Earth, though there really hasn’t even been too much stuff in the hub worlds, so I didn’t find much of a compelling reason to explore, only ever backing out that far between play sessions.

If you have a favorite moment from one of the three films, you’re bound to see it show up in LEGO Lord of the Rings as the story that the game follows is nearly identical to the films, at least for most of the major moments. This means that the game is really well paced too. There weren’t any standout moments that felt like they went on for too long, it all felt just right. If anything, the numerous long and unskippable cutscenes were the only thing to negatively impact the flow of gameplay. They’re good for a few laughs, but if you’ve seen the films in recent years, they come off a bit unnecessary.



Choreographed Minifig Combat

Perhaps the biggest improvement in LEGO Lord of the Rings over past LEGO titles is the higher level of animation in combat. Despite the fluidity of combat in past games, it always felt like your MiniFig was swinging their weapon like an overdramatic play-actor trying to gain the attention of a talent scout. It all felt a bit unnecessarily slow, but that isn’t an issue in LEGO LotR.

Everything still controls the same, but instead of a simple swing of the sword, your character engages in a quick combat sequence that’s so smooth it almost looks choreographed. It all takes place very quickly though, so it doesn’t ever feel like you’re not in control of the character. This is best seen in action when you have a character like Legolas who uses a Bow for ranged combat and daggers for close-quarters combat. He quickly switches between the two as needed in a fluid way that moves the combat along.

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Couch Co-op At its Best

As with all LEGO games, LEGO Lord of the Rings is at its best when played cooperatively with a buddy. There’s still drop-in/drop-out coop, which is just as flawless as ever, though it’s still quite distracting to have the constant flashing reminder at the top of the screen to have a friend join in. There’s a good amount of puzzles that require near-direct control of two different characters, so it can take some careful maneuvering if you’re trying to quickly swap between characters.

AI has never been great in past LEGO games, but it seems to have improved in LEGO Lord of the Rings. While they won’t be helping you solve any puzzles, they’re able to navigate obstacles without much trouble for the most part. There’s the occasional moment where they might get stuck in a fall, but that can usually be solved by switching to them and moving from the danger zone. It wasn’t a regular occurrence though, which is somewhat surprising as things can get pretty cramped during moments when you have almost a dozen characters in play at once.

Lego lord of the rings

100% Completion? Good luck!

It doesn’t take long to get through all three stories, roughly eight to nine hours the first time if you don’t do too much wandering, but as with all LEGO games, you’re dumped into the open-world after you finish the main story to try your hand at a few dozen hours of post-game content.

There’s still the typical challenges of finding the golden bricks hidden within the levels, but there’s also a bunch of smaller challenges, like finding all five cowboy skeletons in one level. It’s easily one of the larger LEGO games to date as you have the whole scope of the franchise available to you. It doesn’t feel too large though, as you can fast travel once you find a statue in each area that unlocks a map filled with hidden info for the area.

Lego Lord of The Rings

There’s still a few problems.

Despite a brilliant presentation, LEGO Lord of the Rings is not without its fair share of problems. It froze up and required a restart multiple times throughout the game, usually during cutscenes, which often resulted in lost progress. There was also some weird checkpoint issues where the game couldn’t determine whether to load my latest manual save from a save statue or an auto-checkpoint, so it decided to do both, resulting in a loss of progress in one spot, but the saved progression in a further area.

However, this doesn’t stop LEGO Lord of the Rings from being one of the best LEGO titles yet. It manages to find a brilliant sweet spot between linear set-pieces and larger puzzles and exploration that make it a joy to play through. The story cinematics might appeal to those who are too young to have seen the films when released, but they still managed to get a solid stream of laughs. All of this together makes it a wonderful experience for new and old fans alike.