Lego The Lord of the Rings brings the epic adventure from the movie trilogy into the world of Lego games. Like many of the Lego movie tie-in games, it's faithful to the over-arching storyline while adding tons of puzzle solving, cute characters, and a sense of humor.
The game covers the "The Lord of the Rings" original trilogy, including "The Fellowship of the Ring," "The Two Towers," and "The Return of the King," and you'll get several of the iconic locations and most memorable scenes as they played out in the movies. Not only that; almost all the voice acting in the cut scenes is pulled directly from the dialog in the movies. But make no mistake, Lego The Lord of the Rings is not an epic adventure game, nor is it a complex RPG; this game is all about picking up Lego studs (like a platformer) and solving puzzles to complete areas. Part of solving each puzzle often requires switching characters to use their unique abilities. It's mostly a casual type of gaming experience, but is a lot of fun if you can get past the control system.
You get a couple of different control schemes to choose from, including a touch mode and a virtual control stick. The touch-based controls let you tap to send your character in a direction and also tap to attack enemies. This touch method can be pretty frustrating when trying to zero in on an enemy, and I found myself falling to my death quite a lot because it's not very precise.
Switching to the control stick helps, but the onscreen buttons can feel a bit crowded, making them only a little less frustrating. With a little practice, I mostly got the hang of it, but just be warned that the controls are not perfect.
As you explore each location you'll often need to complete a series of puzzles to move on. Sometimes it will be something as simple as making the stew Samwise Gamgee made at Weathertop, which alerted the Ringwraiths to the hobbits' location.
Other times you'll need to use the skills of several different characters in the Fellowship to complete a multipart task. Each character has special skills, such as include Sam's ability to dig or start a fire, or Legolas' elven acrobatic abilities to get to tough-to-reach places. Fortunately, the game will tell you when you need to switch characters, and it's fun to figure out how to solve each part of the puzzle using your specialized skills.
More than just the story
You can go through the storyline as intended, but you also have the ability to go back to areas you completed in free-play mode. In some of the early areas, I encountered objects that could only be used by characters that were not yet in my party.
For example, there was an object that required Aragorn's tracking ability, but during the story part of the game, I hadn't even met up with Aragorn. It was a little perplexing at first, but the idea is that you'll return later once you have more characters unlocked so you can clear out all the puzzles in the game. It's a great addition because it gives the game a lot of replay value rather than just following the somewhat linear storyline.