- Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
- Developer: Traveller's Tales
- ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
- Genre: Action-Adventure
- Pros: Vibrant Universe, Addictive Gameplay, Incredible Replay Value
- Cons: Repetitive Action, Direct Narrative, Some Uninspired Puzzle Design
Follow through the action of "The Fellowship of the Ring," "The Two Towers," and "The Return of the King" in pure LEGO style with over 80 playable characters across the many settings of "The Lord of the Rings." While that may sound like epic gameplay, this game is very much in the vein of other LEGO games in that it's mostly about bashing items in the environment to collect LEGO studs and solving puzzles that allow your player to progress from point A to point B. While much effort has been made to enhance the story to make it easier to graft the LEGO gameplay on top of it, the linear nature of the "Lord of the Rings" story can make the game pretty repetitive. Unlike "Harry Potter" with Hogwarts or "Batman" with its Bat Cave or "Star Wars" with its various ships, the story of "LOTR" doesn't have as much of an inherent hub structure from which to branch out different levels. You can go back to and explore Middle Earth but why would you when Mordor awaits?
The "LEGO" games work from a very simple yet addictive structure. Each level features numerous items in the environment that can be destroyed to earn studs and the end of the level gives you a percentage of said studs that you collected. Hardcore players will want to go back to different levels to collect them all and many of the sections of levels can't be explored until certain characters are unlocked. In other words, the game has an inherent replay value that's high. It's impossible to complete the first time through as you'll need characters unlocked later to access parts of the game you can see now.
The creators of "LEGO The Lord of the Rings" wisely don't merely plow through the three films/books with little variance, knowing that previous games that attempted to translate this world to a video game have often failed by being overly linear. And so the game opens with a massive battle and then jumps around a bit in time and space, softening a few elements of Tolkien's story lines for a family audience but staying relatively faithful to the big moments that fans will remember from the films. Yes, you will get to ride a LEGO Balrog through Middle Earth as Gandalf tries to break him apart. Yes, you will get to battle countless Orcs and shoot Legolas' arrows. The set pieces that fans will come to this game hoping to play are all here. It's Traveller's Tales version of "The Lord of the Rings" but it's also quite loyal to its source.
As for gameplay variation from other LEGO games, this one is a bit more inventory-based than others. The fact is that characters like Frodo and Sam don't have the inherent magical powers of, say, Harry Potter or Luke Skywalker, to make them video game-friendly. And so there's a lot of this game that requires objects to be found and then used. Some of it is surprisingly lackluster in design. Find three bundles of wood to make a fire. Hey, look, there are three objects in this field for me to smash to get wood. Puzzle solved. There are other puzzles that are more advanced but I was surprised at how often boredom creeped into the Shire. More so than in "LEGO Harry Potter" or "LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes."