A LEGO game with big, hairy feet…
LEGO: The Hobbit by TT Games and Warner Bros takes the epic journey of Bilbo Baggins and transforms the prequel to the Lord of the Ring franchise into the chunky, fun-sized latest addition to the LEGO series that we’ve come to know and love over the years. We’ve seen quite a variety of LEGO titles over the years, each one inspired by a movie or franchise of some form. Each time the level of quality and gameplay experience has improved, moving the franchise on while maintaining the family friendly fun it is known for. Does LEGO: The Hobbit offer something new besides a Hobbit, a Wizard and a whole load of Dwarves?
LEGO: The Hobbit is filled with all the fantasy and imagination of JRR Tolkien’s Middle-earth and tells the story of Bilbo Baggins in a charming and inviting fashion, enabling you to feel fully immersed in the storyline from the very start. The gameplay is familiar and the environments expand into an enjoyable experience. The stunning scenery is rich in colour and captures the heart and soul of the Hobbit world very well.
Having played on the PlayStation 4 and the PS Vita via Remote Play during my time with the game, I did observe that visually the PS Vita screen looks a lot brighter than the game did on the PS4 while playing, although I did notice dropped pixels and slow down on the handheld. That being said, LEGO: The Hobbit really is the ideal game to play through Remote Play for some stealth gaming when the TV is in use.
TT games have used the same familiar layout from previous titles, a formula we’ve become accustomed to. LEGO games generally rely on selecting different LEGO mini characters to make use of the different attributes and special abilities they bring to the game. Each of the many characters that can be unlocked in the game are charming and bring the classic LEGO humour into play. You’ll find yourself swapping in and out of various characters to perform the various tasks that are demanded of you.
The great thing about the LEGO games is that you can pair up with a friend and play co-op, enabling you to interact together to solve puzzles. The Hobbit is no different with its selection of different puzzles, some of which can be simple to solve, where others are a little bit more challenging. Working together in co-op mode will often allow you to solve puzzles a bit quicker, but that really does depend on who you are playing with.
There are hint blocks scattered everywhere and this gives you a brief explanation of what is required of you at the time. With so many interesting characters to play, there are a lot of different abilities to choose from. For instance, Gandalf can use his magic staff to destroy certain blocks or illuminate dark areas of the environment, whereas a dwarf might use his power of the hammer to smash through heavier blocks. I did personally find that at times I forgot which character did what, leading to a slight delay in progress through the game. There are so many dwarves after all.
The crafting mechanics enable you to mine for various materials, which then allow you to construct bridges, build a selection of mechanisms and thus complete side quests within the game at allocated crafting areas. Loot can be gathered and can be traded in with traders to construct special weapons. The game has a great selection of side quests in Hobbiton, Rivendell, Laketown and the surrounding areas, where you can trade various items, or carry out quests to find and retrieve a objects for certain individuals.
You’ll spend a fair amount of time smashing the environment to pieces for much needed studs and for gathering raw materials, unlocking new characters, and rebuilding LEGO scenery to help you on your way, but the general mechanics of the game remain the same. The majority of the enemies are easy to defeat during combat events and you’ll need to buddy-up at times to conquer the more cumbersome enemies or bosses in a buddy attack, having two characters link up. Combat feels fluid, whether it’s hacking and slashing your way through loads of trolls, to spinning around on the spot to slice the head off an oncoming enemy. Standing on green dwarf stack platform allows your character to stand on the shoulder of another character and so on, enabling you to ascend to higher out of reach areas.
The cut-scenes are incredible and you feel fully rewarded when they appear, more often than not causing hilarity as Bilbo and friends go through the comically recreated events of the story. The characters are excellently animated, the voices are authentic to the movies, and the presentation of the game is very highly polished.
LEGO: The Hobbit doesn’t really break any new ground for the LEGO franchise – You’ll still be collecting a million and one studs, trying to find hidden mini kits and doing your best to unlock your favourite characters from Middle-earth. But realistically, could the LEGO games get any better? With side quests, a great story and the option for family-friendly co-op play, LEGO: The Hobbit is an enjoyable experience that you will want to return to more than Thorin Oakenshield wants to return to the Lonely Mountain. Bring on the Dwarves…