Ask just about any gamer for their thoughts on LEGO's video game franchise, and you'll likely hear the same thing again and again: “You know, they're surprisingly decent.” And it's completely true. Given that the games all sport not one but two product licenses and are generally aimed at kids, the competence with which they are put together is often the last thing you'd expect. But at a certain point, defying your audience's low expectations isn't enough anymore, because its expectations have changed. LEGO Lord of the Rings is very much a decent puzzle platformer that's bolstered greatly by its excellent source material, but this may be the last time that being “decent” will be good enough for this series.
Of all the LEGO games, Lord of the Rings makes the clearest effort to trade on the power of the brand it features. Every strand of music and every line of dialogue is pulled straight from Peter Jackson's successful film adaptions, both to the game's benefit and detriment. There's always been a certain charm to seeing simple, creative ways to translate a comic book or feature film into the LEGO universe. That charm is mostly lost here though due to how directly the game apes the movies. Playing through it is more or less like getting treated to a cliff notes version of the trilogy. It certainly has a magical allure to it, but that magic feels borrowed rather than created. More