A strong Lego rec­om­men­da­tion for all ages


WELL, IT'S that time again for that cus­tom­ary re­view of a Lego ti­tle cap­i­tal­is­ing on the suc­cess of a block­buster movie re­lease. This time the de­vel­op­ers have made the foray into the land of Mid­dle Earth, with Lego The Hob­bit. The game closely fol­lows the first two en­tries in the Hob­bit movie tril­ogy, pack­ing a few chuck­les along the way and tick­ing ba­si­cally ev­ery con­ceiv­able box in the list of re­quire­ments for a Lego ti­tle.

Lego The Hob­bit doesn't stray too far from the for­mula, mean­ing even the hand­ful of game­play twists are some­what ex­pected di­ver­sions from the con­tin­u­ous ethos of the Lego games. Just like in its movie name­sake, Lego The Hob­bit suf­fers from the un­avoid­able flaw of hav­ing a group of main char­ac­ters that look frus­trat­ingly sim­i­lar.

It can be­come un­nec­es­sar­ily con­fus­ing to tell the dwarves apart, some­thing that could be­come very prob­lem­atic as each dwarf has his own unique power, like Bom­bur's abil­ity to turn into a bounc­ing plat­form or Bo­fur's min­ing power, that needs to be ap­plied to the dif­fer­ent en­vi­ron­men­tal chal­lenges.

Strangely enough, the fre­quently slap­stic hu­mour of The Hob­bit films make for an ex­cel­lent fit for a Lego game. See­ing the Dwarves de­mol­ish ab­so­lutely ev­ery­thing in sight in comic fash­ion makes al­most per­fect sense, and re­ally adds to the charm of the ti­tle.

Lego The Hob­bit does bril­liantly on the vis­ual side of things also. The set­tings are ap­pro­pri­ately moody, while still cling­ing on to that in­fec­tious vi­brance that dom­i­nates all Lego ti­tles. De­vel­oper Trav­eller's Tales have done a stel­lar job of bring­ing the Hob­bit to life in Lego form. Goblins, kings and drag­ons have all been adapted flaw­lessly to stan­dard lefo mod­els.

One mi­nor gripe I would have with the vi­su­als is not so much with the graph­ics, but with the cam­era. More of­ten than not you will find some an­gles not to your taste, par­tic­u­larly when this is cou­pled with the fact that many of the char­ac­ters are rather dif­fi­cult to tell apart in the first place.

The main story comes in at a mid­dling six hours, but thank­fully there is so much more to do and see once you have com­pleted the main mis­sions. Each mis­sion un­locks events around the map, and you'll be able to spend hours dig­ging into the recipes, er­rands, and en­coun­ters around Mid­dle-earth.

A camp­fire sys­tem lets you change the time of day to open up new events, and you can al­ways call on a gi­ant ea­gle to get you from one end of the map to the other (pre­sum­ably an ironic ref­er­ence to the age-old ar­gu­ment of 'why couldn't the ea­gles have just flown the ring to Mt. Doom?).

Lego The Hob­bit isn't a sur­prise ti­tle by any means. There are no ma­jor game­play changes and ev­ery­thing feels ex­actly right in the con­text of a Lego ti­tle. It does what it says on the tin, and it does it very well. A strong rec­om­men­da­tion for all ages.

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