I’ve been playing LEGO: Lord Of The Rings (LLOTR) a bit over the last couple of days. I have developed a love/hate relationship with it.
I love it because it has most of the LEGO mechanics that I love. They have done the usual of finding something in most of the character’s abilities to mix up the play. For example: only some blocks can be broken by Gimli; Elves can jump higher; Certain LEGO stones can only be broken by Narsil (Aragorn’s sword).
They’ve also extended the ‘open world’ hub taken from LEGO: Harry Potter and LEGO: Batman 2. Middle Earth becomes the hub as you move from place to place to get to each level.
Of course, you can’t access everything at the start, and will need to come back later with certain characters in order to complete everything.
They’ve also added the idea of making Mithril items at a blacksmith’s. This is the way you can give some characters the abilities of others. For example, Legolas can swing from horizontal bars. Mithril gloves give a character wielding them the same ability.
In addition, they’ve brought in some minor RPG elements. There are some small quests you can get from various places in the Middle Earth hub. There’s also more of an ‘inventory’ system, so a character can carry multiple objects at the same time. These add to the usual LEGO gameplay, without changing the game completely.
On the other hand, there are some irritations (and one bug) that makes me think maybe this hasn’t been play-tested as well as it could have been.
The most obvious irritation is that Gandalf couldn’t hit a barn door with a cannon half the time. When swinging his staff, I find it’s almost random if he connects with a breakable LEGO piece. When firing a bolt from his staff, I rarely hit anything. It makes the times using him (and one section so far where you only have Gandalf) very frustrating.
Another irritation is the way the game decides which character you’ll swap to when you ask to swap to another character. When you’re all on the same vertical level, you can usually work it out by which character is closest to the direction you’re facing. On the other hand, if some characters are above or below you, the game seems to find it impossible to change to someone not on the same level as the majority of characters. This was most annoying in “The Pass of Caradhras” where you could often have smaller characters in out-of-the-way places, and when you wanted to swap, it would take you back up to one of the main party members. Usually this meant redoing whatever it was you needed to do to get back to that hidey hole.
The bug that I mentioned occurs in “The Dead Marshes”. There’s a section where Sam has to stand on one end of a see-saw like arrangement so Frodo can get past a section of deep water. Except I can’t find a way to do it. If I control Sam to put him on the end of the see-saw, Frodo just stands there like an idiot. The moment I change to Frodo to get him across the see-saw, Sam steps off and Frodo drops into the water. I’ve reloaded and redone that section of the level twice (and believe me, this is a tedious level) and have had the same results twice. So this is a game stopping bug until it’s fixed. Yay.
So, until that bug hit, I was having fun despite the irritations. Now, however, I’m stuck and don’t really have much motivation to take what few characters I have to go back and explore.