SDCC 2012 Hands-on Preview: LEGO Lord of the Rings
Traveller’s Tales has developed some of the most creative parodies of big name series, from Star Wars to Indiana Jones to Harry Potter to Pirates of the Caribbean. One major movie/book series has been ignored thus far, and TT games has rectified this error with LEGO Lord of the Rings. When I first heard the rumor of this game, I nearly squealed out loud. I’ve been dying for a LEGO LOTR ever since they tackled the Harry Potter movies.
Apparently, I wasn’t the only one. The people behind TT games are huge LOTR fans, and they have been wanting to do a LOTR LEGO game ever since their first LEGO Star Wars game. They hadn’t done it before because they wanted to make sure that they did it right, for themselves as fans, other fans of the series, and the fans of the LEGO games. From what I saw and played at SDCC, it looks like they have.
LEGO LOTR is not based solely on the movies; since the developers love the books as much as they love the movies, they wanted to include book sequences as well. Sadly, we’ll have to wait for the game’s release to see what has been added, as none of it was revealed to me.
LOTR has all the charm of the other LEGO games with its hilarious parodies, original puzzles, and witty implementation of random tidbits from the books/movies. For example, when the party comes upon a wall or piece of a floor that has a large crack in it, that means that it can only be broken open by tossing Gimli at it. As fans of the LOTR movies know, no one tosses a dwarf, but that sentiment of pride means very little here. It isn’t just Aragorn who tosses Gimli through walls; I used Legolas for the same effect just because I know–deep down inside–that it infuriates Gimli even more to have an elf throw him. And yes, I giggled every time I had to throw the little guy.
Many of the puzzles focus on teamwork, which is nothing knew in the LEGO-verse, but it seemed more prevalent than usual in the 30-minute demo. The devs seem to really want to encourage players to play with friends, especially with family members since the games are so kid-friendly. They even incorporated the same split-screen mechanic from LEGO Batman 2, which lets co-op players explore whichever portion of the scene they want all without forcing the other player to come join them due to screen-size restrictions. This is good in theory, but since the screen splits according to where the players are and not where the players are sitting–like in typical split-screens–it’s often easy to lose where you are. There were several moments where the booth rep and myself had to reorient ourselves as the screen split and we lost sight of where we were.
Of course, the fact that all nine members of the Fellowship are on-screen at once and available for players to switch to doesn’t help matters. Having all nine present is as chaotic as it is awesome. I got lost who was who more than once, especially when the orcs came flooding in and I was trying to solve a lovely boss fight puzzle. In other words, I had an absolute blast.
There is no set release date for LEGO LOTR, but the time frame is this fall, around the time when The Hobbit hits the theaters. The Hobbit will not be present in LEGO LOTR, but you can still enjoy all three books from the Lord of the Rings series. You remember how long those books and movies were, right? That should be plenty for one game.