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Lego The Lord of the Rings review: A fun, puzzle-heavy Lego adventure

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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.

LEGO The Lord of the Rings
7.9

Lego The Lord of the Rings

Pricing Not Available

The Good

<b>Lego The Lord of the Rings</b> faithfully follows the storyline of the movies, but adds tons of puzzle-solving gameplay, and plenty of replay value by letting you revisit areas in free-play mode.

The Bad

Neither of the two control system options are perfect, which can be frustrating at times.

The Bottom Line

With neat Lego recreations of the memorable locations, and challenging gameplay, Lego The Lord of the Rings is a lot of fun, if you can get past the awkward controls.

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.

'The Lord of the Rings' meets Lego (pictures)

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Imperfect controls
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.

Lego The Lord of the Rings
When the Ringwraiths finally find our heroes, they enter the Weathertop area just like you remember from the movies -- only cuter. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Puzzle-solving gameplay
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.

Lego The Lord of the Rings
When a bear paw icon appears over an object, it means only Aragorn can use it with his ranger abilities. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

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.

Play as almost anyone from the movies
There are more than 90 different playable characters, from all the ones you remember to those with much smaller roles. There are also different versions of the main characters as you progress through the story, such as the young Frodo Baggins, and then later the more experienced Frodo the Adventurer. You'll even be able to play as some of the evil characters in free mode, with special items in the game that can only be unlocked by them.

Lego The Lord of the Rings
There are 90 playable characters in Lego The Lord of the Rings. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Not like the consoles
It's important to note that Lego The Lord of the Rings is not a port of the console version of the game, but more like the Nintendo DS version. As such there is not nearly the complexity you might remember from consoles and it has a few issues worth noting.

Along with the somewhat frustrating control system, there were times where I couldn't figure out what I was supposed to do. Only after running around and examining everything in an area would I be able to solve that final piece of the puzzle that would let me move on. I suppose it could be viewed as part of the challenge, but if there were some indicators within the game of the general area you should go next, it might help smooth out some of the minor frustrations.

Lego The Lord of the Rings
Sometimes you'll need to jump across walls using hand-holds -- not easy using an imperfect control system. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Conclusions
With tons of different characters to unlock, numerous puzzles to solve, and locations and dialogue from the movies, Lego The Lord of the Rings is a fun recreation of the trilogy. The controls can be awkward and you'll definitely feel frustrated at times, but overall, the game is a lot of fun.

What the game does well is bring you back to many of the famous locations including the Shire, Bree, Weathertop, Isengard, Helm's Deep, the Misty Mountains, and of course Mordor. And even though it's mostly about the puzzles, it's fun to travel through Tolkien's world with cute Lego recreations of the most memorable characters.

The other thing worth noting is that there have been several movie tie-in games in the Lego universe and this one doesn't bring much more to the table. But if you're a fan of Lego games and want to see how "The Lord of the Rings" feels with snap-together characters and objects, I think it's worth the money.

LEGO The Lord of the Rings
7.9

Lego The Lord of the Rings

Pricing Not Available

Score Breakdown

Setup 9Features 8Interface 7Performance 8