The first question that came to mind when, Lego The Hobbit was announced was, why? Why, with so many Lego games already on store shelves and only two of the three Hobbit movies completed, did Warner Bros. feel the need to rush this game out ahead of the final film…….which is to be released in a few short months no less. I’m sure there is sound financial reasoning behind the decision, but while this latest Lego release will invariably do decent numbers, this is a product that could very feasibly damage the Lego brand in the long run.
It’s not like, Lego The Hobbit is a truly terrible game (far from it), but it unquestionably stands as the weakest Lego game in recent memory, which, when combined with the air of cash grabyness surrounding its release, could feasibly put a chink in this seemingly invincible brand.
The same gameplay we have all come to know and love is present and accounted for with bashing bricks proving as unabashedly enjoyable as it always has (especially with a friend). The new crafting system too, while offering little change to the core experience, does provide a good excuse to smash just about everything in sight (like you need an excuse), but despite the core gameplay remaining the same and a handful of new gameplay twists going some way towards differentiating this from the Lord of The Rings edition, there is far too little to warrant the early release and certainly not enough to compensate for the decidedly weaker source material.
And that’s The Hobbits biggest problem – beyond being unnecessarily rushed out ahead of the third movie and the overriding sense of diminishing returns, it’s the simple fact that The Hobbit movies aren’t nearly as interesting as the original trilogy.
They’re fine movies in their own right, but the pool of characters to choose from isn’t anywhere near as iconic as those from the very best Lego games. Be it Star Wars, the original Lord of the Rings trilogy or the DC and Marvel hits, The Hobbits’ relatively forgettable cast pale in comparison, and while The India Jones games did suffer from a similar problem, they did at least have an array of truly iconic set-pieces to fall back on.
With its open world (rather expectedly), mirroring that of the original trilogy release, there is also the little matter of certain aspects of the game feeling overly familiar, and perhaps more worryingly, feeling decidedly inferior to those found in the Lord of the Rings release. Overlap was inevitable, but when the inescapable comparisons continue to bathe the game in such a negative light, it’s hard to escape the fact that this is arguably the weakest Lego release to date.
The mechanics are fine, the core gameplay is enjoyable as ever and despite its faults, on a technical level, this is arguably the strongest game yet released by Traveller’s Tales. The problem is that, beyond not doing anything particularly new with the well-worn Lego template, Lego The Hobbit suffers from the fact that the source material simply isn’t as compelling or as memorable as the likes of Star Wars and Marvel.
Why they rushed this game out ahead of the third movie I’ll never know, but whatever the case may be, Lego The Hobbit stands as a solid but ultimately underwhelming experience. It’s still a fantastic way of getting gamers and non-gamers together, but thanks largely to the relative weakness of the brand, is very difficult to recommend with so many superior Lego games already available.
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