independent

Sunday 21 September 2014

A strong Lego recommendation for all ages

Published 15/04/2014 | 05:38

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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.

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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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