This game is certainly unlike all previous LEGO titles, and that's both a good and a bad thing. Although the combat is similar, LEGO Lord of the Rings follows the Lord of the Rings story much closer than previous games have followed their inspiration, which makes for a LEGO game a bit darker than previous ones.
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LEGO Lord of the Rings is a surprisingly fun puzzle-platformer, which has become very typical of the LEGO series of games. Most gamers will grudgingly admit that these games, despite being marketed to a younger fan base, are pretty good. Unlike its predecessors, however, LEGO Lord of the Rings very much depends on its story, the Lord of the Rings, to sell itself and give value to the game. That leads to a game that is both fun and engaging, yet still manages to be unlike other LEGO titles and much too easy in the puzzle category (even for younger kids).
The best part of the LEGO games has been the simple-yet-rewarding combat, which consists of little but button-mashing and trying to time your attacks right. Landed attacks actually feel somewhat satisfying, which isn't usually present in handheld games. When you destroy enemies or scenery, something that is often necessary, you are rewarded by a shower of tiny LEGO pieces. As IGN pointed out in their official review of the game, "These little audio/visual rewards turn what might have felt repetitive into something addictive."
This game is certainly unlike all previous LEGO titles, and that's both a good and a bad thing. Although the combat is similar, LEGO Lord of the Rings follows the Lord of the Rings story much closer than previous games have followed their inspiration, which makes for a LEGO game a bit darker than previous ones. It also gives the sense that a lot of the positive features of the game are positive Lord of the Rings features, which gives you the feeling that the game is "borrowing" too much. It also leads to some interesting graphical contradictions, as you wander around an impressively-rendered Middle Earth that happens to have some LEGOs here and there.
Puzzles have remained exactly the same and just as easy to solve since the first LEGO Star Wars game came out and created its new niche in the video game genre industry. Although the reasoning for simple puzzles are easily discernible (the intended audience is much younger than the gaming average, after all), the best word to describe the feel of them in the Lord of the Rings game is "stale." As some reviewers have noted, the games aren't giving kids enough credit, either. After all, how many of you remember the Ocarina of Time? Those puzzles weren't always that easy, but kids figured them out anyway.
The identical puzzles also bring up the problem mentioned earlier; the game borrows too much from Lord of the Rings. Without a good amount of original content, a game that is part of a series will give you a distinct feeling of doing the same thing over and over again, just with a different paint job on it.
Despite the negatives, and there are definitely negatives, this game is, overall, very good. Most reviewers gave it an 8/10 or higher, with the notable exception of an 6.8/10 from IGN. With over 80 different playable characters from the Lord of the Rings universe and excellent and enjoyable graphics, the game will provide some fun for any fan of the LEGO series or Lord of the Rings trilogy. Although it sometimes feels like it is borrowing too much from LOTR, the overall presentation is very good.
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