Every time I pick up a LEGO video game, I know what I am going to get, but it always seems to surprise me anyway.  Lord of the Rings was the biggest surprise I have had with any LEGO game so far. While the gameplay doesn’t stray too far from the normal platforming fare, it has certain RPG elements like quests and upgradable items which, while tedious at times, definitely add to the game’s replay factor.  Also adding to replay value are the many side quests all around Middle Earth and over 80 unlockable characters with unique play styles, from archer to berserker.

If you have played any previous LEGO games you will basically know what to expect, but here they have taken it to a new level. The various levels in the game evoke all the feelings of the movies. As a word of caution, if you don’t feel comfortable letting your child WATCH the Rings movies, then you may want to wait a bit on this game. Like the films, it can get a bit dark at times and even uses actual dialogue from the films in game. That being said, this is what I would consider a perfect family game. It has a simple play style that will appeal to gamers of all ages, with a bit of creative puzzle solving and challenges for the more experienced fans. Even non gamers will enjoy this reimagining of the Lord of the Rings universe.

The graphics, while being mostly comprised of LEGO, were very nice and crisp. Certain areas had a very appealing depth of field, almost like tilt shift photography, and everything was equal parts bright and cheery and dark and gloomy.

But the game is not without its flaws. In free roam the camera can be freely moved around, but in story missions, the fixed camera offers little wiggle room, and at times, climbing and jumping onto small platforms can be a bit of a hassle as it is hard to judge depth appropriately some times. Switching characters can also be a problem. Sometimes when you need to switch to a specific character, it will automatically switch to player two, which can cause you to fail certain puzzles where quick changes are necessary. Also the in-game map  only has two levels of zoom, either far away (not allowing you to see the various missions and characters), or zoomed in to the point where just crossing the map is a chore. There are also certain subplots of the film that have been glazed over, to keep the game from being too long. Most people may not notice this, but if you are a die hard fan of the films, it may be apparent that these pieces are missing (LEGO joke).

Overall, I had a very enjoyable experience with this game, and the problems I encountered hardly detracted from the fun I had playing it. I would definitely suggest this game to anyone who is a fan of platformers, Lord of the Rings, or just LEGO in general. LEGO Lord of the Rings is a great way to spend time with your children or family, and will appeal to both young and old alike.

Pick it up today at your local Slackers!