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Lego Lord of the Rings hands-on

"My precious…"

In a few months' time, Lord of the Rings mania will be picking right back up with the release of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first of a new trilogy from the master director. Luckily, this isn't looking like George Lucas' Star Wars formula all over again – Jackson is keeping true to the tone of J.R.R. Tolkien's books, despite stretching the movies out across three new chapters, rather than the initial two.  Hey, we'll take whatever we can get!

As part of that manic return of the franchise, Warner Bros. Interactive Games is once again teaming up with Travellers Tales (Lego Harry Potter) to bring the world of the Lord of the Rings to Lego. However, there are some distinct touches this time around that make this more of a grandeur affair than previously released Lego games. Remember what Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes did over the original game? Yeah, something like that.

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Rather than spanning out across multiple game releases, Lego Lord of the Rings tells the entire saga in one "flail" swoop, revolving around the misadventures of young Frodo Baggins, the Hobbit, as he attempts to destroy a powerful ring in the fiery realm of Mount Doom. However this won't easy, as the dark lord Sauron's evil forces are seeking out the ring.  Luckily, Frodo isn't alone, as he has the wizard Gandalf to rely on, along with a number of other unlikely heroes.

Lego

Lego Lord of the Rings is coming jam-packed with over 80 playable characters, and though they weren't all available in the demo, it did give an idea of who to expect, including a few heroes you wouldn't expect  Like all good Lego games, you can team up with a friend in local co-op, and don't even need to be on the same screen, as the game's sweet split-screen set-up that lets you explore at your leisure before joining up again with your party.  That way, no one's ever "stuck" waiting for someone else.

Like all Lego games, Lego LOTR is going for a more humorous tone than the ultra-serious films, so expect a few moments of grin-inducing slapstick with the Lego-ized characters and situations.  What's more, Travellers Tales has an interesting task ahead of them, as they're actually using dialogue and music from the film to match up the comical happenings on-screen.  From what we've seen so far they're been quite successful with this process, and the fun dialogue is bound to please fans and young players alike.

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While the gameplay isn't quite leaps and bounds over other Lego titles (you solve puzzles, get into combat situations, etc.), Travellers Tales has done a pretty good job thus far crafting these segments into the Lord of the Rings style, so you actually feel like you're accomplishing something in each stage you take on, rather than just wandering around mindlessly with your Hobbit.  Get a friend to help you out and you can share in the fun of completing these tasks.  Now if only it was online…

You may think, "Eh, I'm sick of Lego games," but Travellers Tales is really making an effort to make them more unique than they were in the past.  If Lego Batman 2 didn't prove that already earlier this year, then Lego Lord of the Rings certainly will when it arrives in late October.  We already got dibs on Gandalf, though…

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Robert Workman
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