What is Lego Lord of the Rings?
Lego Lord of the Rings is a co-op action game, with sprinklings of platforming, simple puzzle solving, and plenty of smashing things up to keep children going. Based on the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the game takes in the events of all three films/books (not including the Hobbit), and digests them into Legoy form. With cutscenes that use actual voiceovers from the film, the game does a great job of stripping the story down into something that anyone can follow, even if they have no prior experience with the franchise. Lego's traditional comedic touches return too, giving both adults and children alike plenty to snigger at, whether its a pig having a drink at the bar, or Gandalf bonking his head on the lights as he tries to make his way through a Hobbit house.
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How do you play Lego Lord of the Rings?
Fully playable in split-screen co-op, Lego Lord of the Rings is a game that's perfect for family play - whether it's two children playing together, or a parent and child. Throughout each of the levels, you'll have to work together to overcome various obstacles, often making use of a character's special power - whether it's the Hobbits' ability to squeeze through small gaps, Gandalf's magic, which can make Lego bricks hover, or Gimli, who you can chuck at cracked Lego slabs to smash your way through them.
Outside of the more structured levels, Lego Lord of the Rings also lets you freely explore all the key locations in Middle Earth, from the Misty Mountains to the Mines of Moria, perhaps with a short stop at Rivendell en route. More open-ended and littered with all kinds of quests and collectibles to find, you could spend many an hour tracking down someone's lost Mithril Gloves, a misplaced toy snake or their much-loved chef's hat, giving you even more to do once you've completed all the levels.
How easy is Lego Lord of the Rings to pick up and play?
In terms of difficulty, Lego Lord of the Rings is suitably easy to pick up and play, too. Everything you have to do is nicely telegraphed, so you'll never be unsure of where to go or what to do next, and while the solution to essential puzzles are practically spelled out (try and do something as the wrong character, and you'll shrug, with a picture of the character you need to use appearing above your head), each level is full of countless secrets and collectibles waiting to be found, to reward the most persistent adventurers.
Fully voiced, and with very little in the way of writing, reading isn't required in order to be able to enjoy the game. In fact, the only problems your child is likely to come across is that the stud trail, which is meant to lead you to the next level, sometimes doesn't work quite as well as it should, and the split-screen can sometimes be a bit of a hindrance when you're trying to aim a bow, as the game then snaps your targeting reticule to your side of the screen.
Unlike the films its based on, LEGO Lord of the Rings is practically free of anything for parents to be concerned about. There's nothing in the way of blood, no swearing, and any violence is implied. Characters simply flash when hit with weapons, before exploding into their constituent parts. While you can "arm" your character with a range of armaments, from swords and axes to bows, again, characters will respond in practically the same way to all of them, with nothing above very, very mild cartoon violence on show.
Format Reviewed: Xbox 360