Toys enter virtual world in ‘LEGO Lord of the Rings’

Photo courtesy of LEGO Group

Founded in 1932, the LEGO Group has been associated with the interlocking blocks that we all know and love. In alignment with many other companies, LEGO has moved into the digital world. For the past 20 years, LEGO has been creating computer games and gaming consoles. With the release of “LEGO Lord of the Rings” for PlayStation, Nintendo, Wii and Xbox on Nov. 13, LEGO has continued a pattern that has permeated its games for the last seven years.

LEGO games all follow a simple concept: playing through the stories of famous characters, whether it be with Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter or Batman.

“LEGO Lord of the Rings” continues this trend. The player switches between the many storylines of the three “Lord of the Rings” stories as they remember them from the movies and books. Like all other adventure LEGO games, each level is mostly linear with some variation; the player fights against Orcs and other enemies and uses special abilities to complete puzzling tasks. Like LEGO games before it, “LEGO Lord of the Rings” also has players solve puzzles by building LEGO creations in which pieces are revealed by destroying rocks, plants and other things that are scattered around the levels.

Two things are distinctively different in “LEGO Lord of the Rings” as opposed to other LEGO adventure games, and both seem to be effective and unexpected.

One is the use of words. In all previous LEGO games, talking has been nonexistent. There are extensive cut scenes that are geared toward slapstick comedy and use the way LEGO people interact with their environment to make funny situations. However, they usually feature the LEGO characters grunting at each other instead of real dialogue.

In contrast, “LEGO Lord of the Rings” has sound cuts from the movie. Initially, this is surprising to players, and slightly disappointing. The grunting of the characters from previous games was one of the more entertaining parts of the cut scenes. A player would wait the whole level to hear them. However, hearing the characters actually talk feels more natural, and the comedic effectiveness becomes apparent when they begin to use lines from the movies in the wrong places.

Another difference that creates more effective gameplay is the use of multiple storylines. As characters get split up from each other in the storyline, players are able to choose which group to play. This means that two levels happen simultaneously, but the player is able to do both in the order they choose. This comes in handy for longer playing times and maintaining the storyline.

“LEGO Lord of the Rings” also gives an interesting new feel to multiplayer gaming. LEGO games have always boasted a local multiplayer system that allows for lots of fun, with not enough competition or difficulty to cause a family feud. However, “LEGO Lord of the Rings” is different.

Rather than always being in the same place as your neighbor, players play different levels with different characters in split screen. This can be slightly confusing for a moment or two, but after a few plays the split screen becomes a new, enjoyable way to play with friends.

LEGO always delivers games that are enjoyable for the whole family, but are not as popular as the big-named shooters and role-playing games. “LEGO Lord of the Rings” is no exception. With lots of extras to find and at an affordable price, the LEGO games are a great option for those looking for an easy and fun game to play either solo or with a group of friends.

 

Reach the reporter at mmgilber@asu.edu