I’ll confess that this review of Lego The Hobbit wasn’t exactly high on my list of priorities, which is why it is 2 months overdue. Even now, it doesn’t feel like all that much time has passed since the last Lego video game outing from Traveller’s Tales, and I really didn’t feel inclined to pop it in my console. In fact, I’m not entirely sure why this game even exists, at least in it’s current state.
No, I am not implying that the game is bad. On the contrary, now that I’ve finally gotten down to playing it, I’d say it’s pretty good as far as Lego games go. I’m just rather miffed that the credits start rolling two thirds of the way into the story; as it strictly follows the narrative set by the Peter Jackson movies, gamers are subjected to the same blue-balling that movie-goers suffered at the end of The Desolation of Smaug.
Since the 3rd film is still a ways off from release, players are left with an extremely unsatisfying non-ending. Was it too much to ask that TT release the game as a complete anthology to coincide with the conclusion of the film trilogy? I suppose Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment probably needed that extra bit of revenue to meet their projections for the fiscal year. Video games are a business, after all.
If you’ve ever played any Lego video game in the last few years, you already know what to expect. Players will take control of Bilbo, Gandalf, and their dwarven compatriots over a series of chapters that stick pretty closely to the plot of An Unexpected Journey and The Desolation of Smaug. You’ll be smashing your way through legions of Lego-ified bad guys, solving simple puzzles with specific character abilities, and putting together various contraptions with loose bricks over the 8-or-so hours it takes to beat the game.
Players will find themselves in familiar locations such as Hobbiton, Rivendell, Mirkwood, Laketown, and more, all rendered in painstaking detail and embellished with the Lego touch. Despite the game’s light-hearted presentation and visual style, I was pretty impressed by how well it replicated the overall mood and feel of the Peter Jackson films. If you can look beyond the brick-and-stud aesthetic, you’ll find that Lego The Hobbit can be quite the gorgeous game.
One new addition to the series is that of a crafting mechanic. Aside from Lego studs which we are all too familiar with by now, players will also find a variety of crafting materials such as gems, wood and more when smashing objects apart. Gamers that just love breaking everything they see (and really, who doesn’t?) will enjoy this aspect of gameplay, as gathering these materials will allow the construction of some interesting objects that can unlock sections of gameplay along with the associated sidequests and secrets.
While far from perfect, Lego The Hobbit is an entertaining, family-friendly romp packed with unlockables and replayability. The current lack of content from The Battle of Five Armies is disappointing, to be sure, but what is present is solid and exemplifies everything you’ve come to love about Lego games in general. I just wish it didn’t feel so much like an incomplete product released prematurely to cash in on the perceived popularity of the Peter Jackson films.