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Customer Review

74 of 83 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun, but overly complicated, November 26, 2012
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
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This review is from: LEGO Lord of the Rings - Nintendo Wii (Video Game)
My son and I are big fans of the Lego games. We've played all of them but Indiana Jones 2, which we were advised to avoid. The games are a perfect match of fun, comedy, puzzles, and activities to perform for those who wish to get "100%". This works well for father/son gaming. He wants to blow through the levels and watch the humorous cinematics, I want to go back and meticulously go through every nook and cranny and unlock all the secrets. We play together and by ourselves and everyone is happy.

We love the Lord of the Rings franchise (books, movies, games) and it is a good fit for the Lego gaming experience. The folks at Traveler's Tales Games have really tried to push the envelope of Lego gaming by adding a more open play space, quests and a map function.

This is one of the first titles to use dialogue, Batman 2 being the first. LOTR pulls dialogue directly from the films, including the grunts made during jumps and when fighting. It's a mixed bag. Some scenes it really works but I found that both my son and I missed the 'lego language' of previous games. Not a big deal, just a little issue. The humor level is down a bit from other games. There are occasional sight gags that made us laugh out loud but the jokes are less frequent.

It's more to do with the subject matter but the color palate is pale and muted. When you are walking around you will get lost just like Sam and Frodo. Tan hills, grey hills... Get ready for grey bricks, dark grey bricks, tan bricks, brown bricks, dark brown bricks. I know, it's reproducing medieval fantasy but it gets a little dull busting up chunks of rocks all the time. It must be taxing for the Wii because you will be walking along and the background will suddenly appear. "Oh, we're in Hobbiton, finally."

There are classic silly minigames (lots of goat and pig races) that bring back the lego game flavor. There are powers and people to unlock, getting you access to more and more - this is the part of Lego games that I love. You gain a new guy, go back into freeplay missions and unlock things previously denied to you. There are red bricks to achieve, through world spanning mini-quests offered by people you find around the map. These quests are silly (A woman in Hobbiton says her husband lost the house key in Moria). You find them via freeplay, and you can use them to unlock 'cheats' like stud multipliers, just like you are accustomed to. One new addition is the gold brick has been replaced with Mithril bricks. These can be spent to forge items at the blacksmith's. Many of these items are used to satisfy mini-quests, others help you level the playing field, gaining other character's special powers.

There are special powers that make every character important. Samwise is by far the most valuable character and you get him from the start. Going through the game you will unlock more powers (like when you are gifted the elven rope).

The giant world is both a curse and a blessing. It's really nice to walk around and feel the topography and music change to announce you are in a new zone. Each area has several characters to find and purchase, a handful of mithril bricks, and maybe some new blueprints for the blacksmith. There are also several mini quests to gather in each area.

There is a system to set destinations, making the blue 'ghost bricks' give you a path to follow. It's not always easy to figure out. There are also map statues around to allow you the gracious ability to simply pop over to another statue in a different locale. Walking around you soon discover some of the issues the game has. A compass would be nice. The default camera angle is odd at times and unless you use the d-pad to move around, you'll find yourself walking off bridges and falling off cliffs. Nobody can swim. You are given a few moments to frantically press A to jump back on shore. Woe to someone who falls off a cliff into water. You can end up rebounding back and forth as you slip off the edge again and again. I've also fallen through the earth into blackness before. I recommend waiting. Eventually the game would revert to a nearby saved point. There are sequences where you must hop from point to point or face zooming back to the start. These can be really frustrating due to camera angle.

The screen split is constant when playing two player, which can be confusing. It's hard to coordinate walking together. My son and I were constantly getting separated. You can use C to switch characters but sometimes characters are only available at a given time, meaning you switch to their current location in Middle Earth instead of right where you needed them. An "EVERYONE ON ME" command would have been nice for the world exploration mode.

In closing. The mini quests and tedious world exploration might be frustrating to the younger set, and might not be enough for older gamers accustomed to Skyrim and other traditional rpgs. I like the game but just wish it was a little simpler. I use Lego games for relaxation and bonding with my son. I think they achieved gaming nirvana with the Star Wars complete Saga game. I would have been happy with a game like that, with a LOTR facelift.

[EDIT] We have finished the story mode and finally can play together in the Middle Earth Map. It's still difficult to coordinate movement, and the split screen can make targeting things with the wii remote (Like Legolas's bow) annoying, but at least we are able to use every character we have collected. I'm keeping the review at 3 stars because many of the puzzles are frustrating due to camera position and the fact that nobody can swim (and falling in water sends you back to land, and not the most recent platform you jumped from).
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 21, 2013 7:18:36 AM PST
Lisa Kelley says:
I didn't want to take the time to write a review, this one did a good job. I just wanted to comment that some of the jumping from pole to pole puzzles make you want to scream. You have almost no control and the jumping is not consistant from jump to jump.
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