I have to admit to being a bit cynical about LEGO The Hobbit. We'd not really had much hype or coverage around it and generally in my book that means a less than stellar game. Fortunately I was wrong. Which makes me wonder how I could have doubted TT Games in the first place, after all this is the team that brought plenty of joy to my family, through titles such as LEGO Star Wars, LEGO Marvel and more. It's fair to say I'll never doubt this studio again, and neither should you.
As is usually the case, this latest LEGO game follows the plot of the movie very closely, only diverting a little in order to make sure there are two characters on screen at all times. Now surely everyone has read The Hobbit (if you haven't do so now, it's a spectacular book) so you should know the story, but basically it tells the tale of Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit who finds himself roped into going on an adventure with some dwarfs in order to win a share of the treasure guarded by the dragon, Smaug. Along the way the way he grows into a different person, gaining confidence, friends and wisdom. The Hobbit is told well on film and comes across just as well in LEGO. If there is one issue then it is that the game does not tell the whole story, although this is rumoured to change via DLC around the time the third movie is released.
Gameplay has never changed too much from game to game, so as always you'll find yourself going through the story from beginning to end by bashing up bits of LEGO and solving problems in order to progress. But at least there are some new mechanics to mix things up a little. For instance LEGO The Hobbit seems to have borrowed its crafting system from LEGO The Movie, meaning that you'll collect LEGO pieces throughout the game which you can then use at building stations. This will allow you to build items that you need to get further, be it a bridge a boat, a fan etc. While this generally works pretty well, it can be frustrating if you do not have all the LEGO parts you need as it means you'll need to go on a search for them in the surrounding areas.
Another new mechanic introduced in LEGO The Hobbit is the ability to buddy up. This allows two dwarfs to join together to smash through walls and other obstacles. Some dwarfs can even climb on top of each other, allowing characters to climb up their stacked weapons to reach higher platforms. There are a few other new things you'll notice too, although in general much of the other mechanics are the same, but just as fun as ever.
Much like Lego LOTR, there is an entire world to explore once you have completed the game. As you complete each mission you'll unlock quests throughout Middle-earth which you can complete using any of the characters you have unlocked. You'll even gain access to many horses and other creatures which you can ride between parts of the land, or you can fast travel using a large eagle. The tasks on offer once you decide to explore the land are mainly fetch or craft quests, so it's nothing too special, however if you want to hang around in the world of LEGO Middle Earth a little longer then it's something to keep you busy.
What I've always loved about the LEGO games is the humour and there is certainly plenty of that on offer here. You'll laugh out loud at some of the silly moments in the cutscenes and you'll also be impressed the first time you see the LEGO Dragon - who wouldn't be? One other thing is that when it comes to presentation the game looks pretty spectacular at points. I tested the game on PS4 and some of the scenery looks stunning, I was very impressed, especially when standing atop some of the mountains, watching the sun glare at the screen.
As mentioned, LEGO The Hobbit does not conclude the story, however it still feels like a clever adaption of the movies released so far. It's full of the humour, colourful graphics and fun co-operative gameplay that you'll have come to expect from the LEGO games and in my opinion that's all you can ask really. I think it says it all that me and my son completed this game in a few days and loved every minute. So if you enjoyed the previous LEGO games then you won't go wrong with this one either.
Words by Joe Anderson.
@_wotta | PSN/XBLA: wotta
(Version Tested: PS4)
+ Great graphics on PS4
+ Fun co-op adventure
+ Tells the story well
+ Great humour
- Middle Earth quests aren't the greatest