ONE DWARF IS JUST LIKE AN­OTHER

LEGO The Hob­bit

HWM (Singapore) - - Test - by Ju­lian Yeo

With the many fran­chises un­der its belt, LEGO has a com­mand­ing lead over mix­ing in the fun of build­ing with and de­stroy­ing things made out of LEGO bricks with the likes of the Avengers, Star Wars and Bat­man. The Hob­bit ap­pears to be treated no dif­fer­ently, which might be the fal­lacy or the “don’t change what isn’t bro­ken” at­ti­tude with all the games un­der the LEGO fran­chise. LEGO The Hob­bit drops some of the bits and most of the se­ri­ous­ness from J. R. R. Tolkien’s story-turned-Peter-Jack­son movie and puts it into a light-hearted, fam­ily-friendly LEGO form. You will travel with the likes of Bilbo Bag­gins and Gan­dalf on their quest to help the dwarves re­claim Ere­bor. Most of what you’ve seen in the first two movies will be re­played in the game, which will leave you with a taste of dis­sat­is­fac­tion be­cause the third movie isn’t cov­ered in the game since the tril­ogy isn’t com­plete yet.

You will travel across Mid­dle Earth, from the LEGO ver­sions of The Shire, to the El­ven land of Riven­dell and the lake-town of Es­garoth, all lov­ingly recre­ated to be as pretty as far as a bunch of LEGO bricks can bring you. Hope­fully, all of that, and the voices of the ac­tual cast, will help dis­tract you from how cum­ber­some and repet­i­tive your ac­tual quest will be. Un­less given a spe­cific path to fol­low, the gen­eral idea of each level is to start smash­ing ev­ery­thing where you are un­til you re­veal the key of bunch of build­able bricks that opens the next path.

It was pretty sat­is­fy­ing to be wel­comed into Bilbo’s hol­low and to smash up ev­ery­thing from his shelves to his ta­bles and chairs like a mighty dwarf in an anger man­age­ment pro­gram, but to do it again and again will be some­thing play­ers need to look for­ward to for each and ev­ery level. This, is if they ever want to com­plete the game prop­erly and at­tain the ti­tle of Mas­ter Bur­glar (or hoarder of all the LEGO studs you can find) in the level. Smash­ing things also give you the loot you need in the form of build­ing ma­te­ri­als, such as wood, rope, chicken legs, fish, sil­ver and ru­bies, the lat­ter two of which, need to be

CON­CLU­SION LEGO games are es­sen­tially the same, the fun fac­tor be­ing its sac­cha­rine treat­ment of the fran­chise and char­ac­ters you al­ready love.

mined for as min­er­als.

When you’re not smash­ing things or run­ning around, the game throws puz­zles at you. These take the form of a build­ing mini-game where you use your amassed loot to build some­thing to progress the level. If you don’t have the re­quired loot, you’re then forced to go around the game world smash­ing ev­ery­thing for ma­te­ri­als, or trade loot for them, only ex­cept traders are sparkly lo­cated and may not have what you want all the time.

Other ob­sta­cles in the game can be over­come through the use of the myr­iad of char­ac­ters you have. Some of the dwarves carry staffs for oth­ers to reach higher places, have ham­mers to knock a gi­ant statue out of the way, wield bow and ar­rows to shoot tar­gets, as well as to dig up or mine ob­jects on the ground. It can be frus­trat­ing when switch­ing across char­ac­ters, since hit­ting the Y but­ton doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily cy­cle around the bunch of char­ac­ters at your com­mand. I found my­self switch­ing from Bilbo to Gan­dalf then to Bilbo and then to Dwalin, when who I re­ally needed was Thorin. Hold­ing the Y but­ton draws up the char­ac­ter wheel, but un­less you re­ally know your LEGO-lized Hob­bit char­ac­ters at the back of your head, you will con­fuse one char­ac­ter with an­other if you don’t re­mem­ber who is the short bloke with the flail.

There is a lot of ground to cover in LEGO The Hob­bit with plenty to col­lect, as with all fran­chises in the LEGO uni­verse. Minikits, sil­ver bricks, red bricks, black­smith craft­ing sheets and all 108 playable char­ac­ters, whom you’ll be able to use in Free Play mode, like the elf char­ac­ters, Le­go­las and Tau­riel, who have a bet­ter jump­ing abil­ity or the goblins who can climb spe­cial ver­ti­cal walls. So when you have some­thing out of your reach dur­ing your quest in Story mode, you’ll just have to come back to it later. It’s a lit­tle te­dious, yes, but surely you’re play­ing a LEGO game to un­lock ev­ery­thing?

With a good hold on the story and a gen­eral bit of good fun, LEGO The Hob­bit is de­light­ful enough to garner a playthrough for a few hours. Use it to dis­tract the chil­dren or go at it with them through split-screen co-op. If you’re look­ing for some­thing that isn’t fam­ily-ori­ented though, you won’t get much of a kick out of this game.

Choos­ing char­ac­ters can be a bother un­less you re­mem­ber who’s who, es­pe­cially among the dwarves.

LEGO dragon doesn’t do the mighty Smaug jus­tice.

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