|Min OS X: 10.7|
Mac OS X: 10.7.5 | CPU: 1.4 GHz Intel | RAM: 4 GB | HD Space: 8 GB | Graphics: 256 MB
Mid 2011 iMac with 12GB RAM, Intel i5 2.5GHz CPU and a AMD Radeon 6750M 512MB GPU. Running the game on high texture qualities at 1920 x 1080 resolution.
Now, it’s fair to say that the Lord of the Rings games haven’t lived up the expectations set by the films. So, it would make sense for someone to start from scratch and go back to basics, and at the moment there is no more basic format than the LEGO series. This is not a gripe against LEGO games, they do a fantastic job of luring our youth into these bigger worlds and do a stand up job of introducing them to beloved characters of a series. With this in mind LEGO: The Lord of the Rings from Feral Interactive is a huge success.
It all starts with the way in which the story is told. It is broken up into small easy digestible sections that start from the very beginning of the series and continue all the way through to it’s conclusion in 'Return of the King'. You control The Fellowship, led by Gandalf, on their quest to finally rid Middle Earth of the 'One Ring'. Things don't quite go to plan for The Fellowship as they are hunted and chased across Middle Earth by Sauron and Saruman's hordes, who are trying to stop The Fellowship in completing their quest.
The use of comedy really breaks up the storytelling, and adds a lot of fun and memorable moments. These diversions are exceptionally well done, as is the case for most LEGO games. Seeing Gandalf losing his temper because he keeps banging his head in Bilbo Baggins' hut is a personal highlight, especially when he smashes the lantern with his staff. Nice little touches like this make the story easier to digest. It also provides a welcome balance to the more intense moments, especially for players who may not be familiar with LOTR.
Something that previous LEGO games have lacked is immersion. Travellers Tales was able to counter this with the use of sound and audio logs. The story is broken up into simple cutscenes which are fully voice acted using audio from the films. This immerses you in the story and gives you a look into the trials and tribulations Frodo and The Fellowship go through. The use of music in LOTR is fantastic, as music taken directly out of the film takes you back to the epic moments from the trilogy.
Gameplay in LEGO LOTR is the same as with any other LEGO: simple but fun. The combat system has been enhanced, not so much in the controls but in animations. Sword clashes result in shields being ripped away or a nice deflection before the enemy leaves himself vulnerable and is turned into studs. Hacking at trees and watching them sway before breaking apart is enjoyable as always, and seeing studs fly from the rocks is amusing. While the hack and slash button mashing is fun, the problem lies in the simplistic puzzles. Certain characters are needed to accomplish their relegated tasks, and while playing as different characters can be fun, switching from one to the other simply to knock down an object is rather tedious. The puzzles themselves are not well thought out. Collect wood, start a fire to burn up that vine holding the rocks in, jump across the gap. Toss Gimli to break apart a cracked section of brick and build something from the destroyed blocks. All of these get repetitive very quickly. Not only are they simple but they also give tips and practically solve themselves. It may be geared towards children, but adults also enjoy playing therefore the puzzles perhaps need to be more challenging.
Graphically, the game is the best in the LEGO series. Some of the set pieces are fantastic and you can really tell the team at Travellers Tales are fans of the series given the level of detail going into environments. From maneuvering through the mines of Moria to walking through the streets of Gondor the lighting and weather are what really put this game ahead of the other LEGO World titles.
The port itself, dealt with by Feral Interactive, is seamless and smooth. Even with minimal graphical options it is nice to be able to play the game at the highest settings without it really ever testing my machine. I didn't run into any game crashes or other technical bugs and the game ran above the standard 30 FPS easily. The port also comes packing driver support for various controllers.
LEGO LOTR will be remembered for its visually impressive graphics coupled with some well laid out levels and stellar sound and audio. Unfortunately, the game suffers from a lack of innovation, something that still continues to plague the LEGO World series. It's a nicely packaged game by Feral Interactive and despite its repetitive gameplay it is certainly the best game the LEGO World franchise has offered us thus far.
• Best looking LEGO title yet
• Great use of movie sounds and music
• Enjoyable moments of humor
• Repetitive gameplay
• Lack of challenge