I’ve been playing through LEGO Lord of the Rings on the PS3. If you’ve played any of the Lego games before, you’ll recognize all of the following:
- Different characters have different abilities.
- The game is split into six levels per movie.
- Each level has 10 minikit pieces to collect, for which you earn an additional bonus.
- You unlock more characters, and can buy more abilities, as you progress.
- All levels, and also much of the material between levels, needs to be revisited once you have the right abilities.
- Traveller’s Tales inserted goofy humor into the cutscenes.
- In between levels you can access areas where you can buy upgrades and view your minikit collection.
This game introduces some new elements, and builds on some of the concepts I saw in the Harry Potter games.
- The cutscenes contain dialogue from the movie. This is the first Lego game I’ve played with dialogue, but it works just fine here.
- The “overworld” between levels is a continuous area you can explore. Distances have of course been reduced.
- Each character has an inventory. Some of the items provide special skills, so this gives you access to them.
- Map stones in different areas let you quickly teleport between regions, and also will reveal secrets you can find once you have the right abilities.
- Instead of collecting gold bricks, you’re collecting mithril bricks. In each level, and also scattered throughout the world, there are designs you can find and bring to the blacksmith in Bree who will forge items for you. These items give your characters abilities in the world that they don’t already have (since you can’t simply change characters like you can in free play).
- You can meet characters who will give you fetch quests. Each level has three items you can find for these fetch quests. The reward is either a red brick (a special ability) or a mithril brick.
- Since your party has to split up over the course of the game, you just use the normal character switching (just hold it down and choose the character) to jump to a different set of characters. The split-screen transition effect here is pretty cool.
So far I’ve played this up through the first mission of Return of the King. And tonight, fighting the battle of Helm’s Deep, I got to experience one of the greatest moments ever in gaming: riding Theoden’s charge out of the keep. Something about tearing through the castle, slaughtering every Uruk-hai in your path, swinging your sword with abandon, is absolutely glorious. About the only way I can think to improve it would be to replace the audio with Lancelot’s maniacal laughter during his charge in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. (That would also make a good Lego game.)