Lego: The Lord of the Rings has lifted the bar on the LEGO game franchise. There is an abundance of things to do including all new side missions, bonus levels, and has characters never seen before in the films. The story is based on Peter Jackson’s remarkable trilogy of films, with the addition of Lego’s all new ‘Free Roam’ where it makes a small detour to the linear games we have seen before.
Like the other games you can play with up to 2 players in co-op with drop in/drop out play, however this time around some of the missions have been specifically designed for multiple scenarios to play out in real time. For example, during certain sequences the screen splits where one player might control a group such as Frodo and Sam while the other could be playing Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli, in completely different locations before reverting back to a single team on one screen and continuing the main story.
Throughout each level you can collect up to ten minikits which are normally obtained once you have unlocked free play. In most instances you will require specific character types to reach the mini’s such as, a blacksmith who can create mithril items at the forge. As seen in the other games there are bucket loads of studs to collect which is your staple trading commodity used to buy characters and earn the infamous True Adventurer title.
The levels maintain that same trademark humour and irony that were in the previous games. In a somewhat unusual twist (although not the first Lego Video Game to do this) the voices from the movies have been used for important cutscenes, gone are the grunts and moans we have seen before. It almost feels like a copout but understandably it adds more to the drama and helps those who may not know the story as to what is going on – having said that I would find it hard to believe anyone wanting to play this game wouldn’t have either seen the movies or read the books.
There are a wide range of characters in Lego LOTR including the Balrog, Shelob, and Sauron of the second age (before the big battle at the start). There are over 60 playable characters that have specific abilities, powers or weapons, of which each one plays a part in the story. One of the more interesting characters to be added to the game is Tom Bombadil, a powerful but somewhat eccentric hero from the books who unfortunately was not featured in any the movies.
Throughout the whole game you are free roaming around middle earth, with the option to travel anywhere that the story line has led you before progressing. There are a wide range of items to collect, characters to buy and secrets to uncover. You will find lots of mini games like animal races, boat battles, archery ranges and lots of other crazy activities to keep you going and earn you bricks. When you finish each level you will unlock characters that can be found roaming middle earth all you have to do is defeat them (if they are an enemy to the player) and buy them, some characters are extremely costly and will require a lot of saving. One of the great things about Lego LOTR is that you can fast travel, making the game a lot easier and less boring.
For me the biggest let down in the game were the occasional glitches where the game would freeze. Although it can be extremely frustrating the auto saves are frequent enough that you needn’t worry too much about losing any significant progress. I really enjoyed the game and played it quite merrily until the end. It is a game that has a lot to offer all generations, filled with Lego humour and that epic drama that only JRR Tolkien can provide. It may have the odd bugs but it is well worth grabbing, one to sit under the Xmas tree for sure. 
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, Vita, Wii, 3DS, DS, PC
Publisher: Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Travellers Tales