Game Review

LEGO The Hobbit Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Ron DelVillano

Barrel full of mediocrity

It doesn’t take an analyst to know that the entertainment industry loves a good trend, and one current example is to find a hugely popular work of fiction, turn it into a big-budget film, then let Warner Bros. make a LEGO video game out of it. The works of beloved fantasy author J. R. R. Tolkien, of Lord of the Rings and other high-fantasy classics fame, is swirling around this vortex yet again. The brick-based The Lord of the Rings adaptation popped up in 2012, and now comes LEGO The Hobbit, a game based on the current film series which is an adaptation of the novel that first introduced us to Tolkien’s tumultuous world of Middle-earth.

Following the plot of the first two films in the ongoing trilogy, LEGO The Hobbit tells the story of Bilbo Baggins and his Dwarven companions as they attempt to reclaim the usurped throne of Erebor. The game does well to abridge the movies, maintaining the majority of the stories while transforming them into an interactive experience. Releasing this game prior to the third film's première, thus not including the entire trilogy in one package, is a questionable decision, leaving us wondering if the final film will be available to play as DLC on 3DS, as has been implied for the home console iterations. As it is, the game does follow the plot all the way up to the end of the second film, then abruptly stopping where the third should pick up.

Gameplay remains the same as it has in the most recent portable LEGO outings, opting for an isometric view of the playing field rather than rendering the environments and characters in explorable 3D. As can be expected, most of the action involves traversing from one end of each linear stage to the next, ferociously tapping Y to break your enemies to bits and solving very basic puzzles in-between. Obstacles that require specific actions to be performed in order to pass often block off sections of the stages, but thankfully you have an entire band of dwarves with unique skills at your disposal to get the job done. The controls work well, and optional use of the 3DS’s touchscreen to perform tasks or switch between characters is useful in streamlining the action, but it’s all very repetitive and doesn’t provide an original experience. In LEGO Marvel Super Heroes: Universe in Peril, the variety of characters and their super powers each felt unique; in LEGO The Hobbit, all of the characters feel like slightly different takes on the same archetype.

One big change found here that wasn’t present in previous titles, though it hardly affects how the game is played, is the inclusion of a Super Mario Bros. 3 style world map instead of simply bumping you from one stage to the next. Progress through the campaign is linear and still relies on completing goals and collecting gold bricks in each stage, but there are now divergent paths available to take you to bonus stages and optional side quests. As you work your way through campaign stages, button mashing through hordes of orcs and performing character-specific tasks, you will find materials that can be used to construct bridges and other set pieces. These extra buildings fit into the world map and help expand the area to unveil hidden locals. Uncovering and unlocking all of the hidden areas is completely optional, but it does help to significantly extend the otherwise short campaign, the bulk of which only lasts around six hours.

Changes to the world map and resource collection aside, LEGO The Hobbit is practically identical to other recent handheld LEGO titles. The gameplay might be stale for many gamers out there, but the one thing that keeps these games feeling fresh and worth coming back to is the undeniable wit found in the writing. This poses a severe problem for the latest outing, as the source material isn't particularly funny, and thus doesn't leave much room for a sprinkling of that trademark humour. Attempts have been made to force sight gags into the story, but the dialogue is mostly comprised of that found in the films, leaving little to no room for anything else. If you enjoy the Hobbit films and their cast of characters, then it's likely that you'll have an attachment to this game, but it's difficult to say that this one will appeal to a wider audience more accustomed to the LEGO tone.

Unsurprisingly, the audio and visual presentation is also identical to that found in the previous handheld LEGO games, and that should not be considered a good thing. Rather than rebuilding all of the cinematics to accommodate the 3DS, everything has instead been ripped and compressed from the home console game, resulting in muddy images and crackling voiceovers that fluctuate in both quality and volume. To add insult to injury, there's no way to skip past the cinematics. Instead of being able to continue on with the gameplay, tapping the console's touchscreen will restart the cut scene from the beginning, leaving you with absolutely no way to get around them. Because the cut scenes were not made specifically for the 3DS, they also don't boast the console's signature 3D, an effect that is reserved strictly to gameplay and doesn't manage to do much when it is in use anyway. In fact, having the 3D on more is more effective in dropping the frame rate than it is in adding depth to the environments. The in-game graphics also have a slight graininess to them, and more than once did we find ourselves slipping sideways into walls or falling through the environment completely, plummeting to an untimely death.

The combination of lazy visuals, inconsistent audio, and minor glitches all point toward the generally poor quality that hovers over LEGO The Hobbit as a whole. It's the type of game that has glimmers of unique design and good intentions, but in the end fails to live up to its potential. The missing third act also makes us wonder whether or not this title was released prematurely; it's a game that definitely feels like it was rushed to market well before its time.


LEGO The Hobbit attempts to take what has arguably become one of he most repetitive franchises in modern gaming and make it feel new again, but unfortunately falls short of hitting its mark every step of the way. The idea of including a world map in place of the open world found between stages in the home console versions is a step in the right direction, but it doesn't carry enough weight with it to change the gameplay in any significant way. Combine that with the lackluster LEGO script, repetitive combat and crude aesthetics, and you've got a game that feels a little different than what you might be used to, but at the same time manages to remain exactly the same. If you've played any of the other recent LEGO 3DS games then you already know whether or not you're the target audience for this one, but anyone else is advised to remain in a land far, far away.

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User Comments (37)



epicdude12302 said:

Too bad! Although I like the console verisons better, I've always liked portable Lego games. Now, we need a review for the Wii U version!



sinalefa said:

Am I the only one who feels that this only covers two movies because the third one may show up as DLC nearing the release of the actual movie?

If it does, most likely it will skip Wii U, judging by WB's recent record.



dumedum said:

@sinalefa Lego games are never going to skip Wii U, do not worry... they consistently sell extremely well both on 3DS and Wii U.



rjejr said:

@sinalefa - "If it does, most likely it will skip Wii U, judging by WB's recent record."

I didnt buy this game b/c releasing the game 2/3 into the trilogy is just stupid, but I certainly wouldnt get it on Wii U w/ that worry hanging over it.

So anybody have any more guesses on the next franchise to get the Lego treatment? Best guess I've read so far is TMNT, but I havent seen any actual rumours yet. My kids and I want Dreamworks Dragons, Im betting the game for the new movienext month is drek. Maybe E3. I can't imagine living in a world w/o a Lego game on the horizon.



unrandomsam said:

The 3DS Lego Lord of the Rings I saw for £4.99 recently. (Still didn't bother with it).



darkswabber said:

@rjejr I think the next lego game will be a next isntallemend in lego DC or lego star wars. and if they do a new franchise I think it might be doctor who becease steven moffat recently allowed lego to make doctor who sets. or I think they might do a lego jurrassic park game since the new upcomming jurrassic world film.



HappyHappyist said:

I remember the original cartoon for the Hobbit in 1977. It was such a great one, and I remember being really excited for the new Peter Jackson take on the book. After seeing both movies, I'm not excited for the next one.



memoryman3 said:

@KnightRider666 @Yorumi 3DS please! Lavish third party support and I don't touch anything else with a ten foot pole! Why not bring Child of Light to the 3DS, shaders and all.....

3DS sure is powerful man.



rjejr said:

@ricklongo @Gerbwmu - "Lego City 2"

We never played the 1st due to lack of multiplayer. And my kids don't follow TMNT though they played a game on PSN for awhile. A wide open Lego NYC could be really enjoyable though. I'm not sure I've seen Freedom Tower in a game yet. Or movie or tv show for that matter.

OK, just watched the TMNT trailer for the 1st time. WTF!?! Micheal Bay and Megan Fox remake Transformers w/ turtles? Definitely NOT the Lego game I'm looking for. Maybe somebody - besides Bay - can make a live action Gargoyles movie w/ Keith David, #1 and Troi doing the voices.



rjejr said:

@darkswabber - I'm hoping they wait for another Star Wars game until the next trilogy ends in 8 years or whenever. DC already got 2 but Lego Marvel just came out so I'm hoping for a superhero break as well. Lego Daleks would be the best thing ever (still witting very impatiently for Smaug) but I can't see British humour translating well into Lego w/ any of the Drs.



Panamae said:

"LEGO The Hobbit attempts to take what has arguably become one of he most repetitive"

..one of HE most repetitive?

Please proof read your reviews, guys.



Peach64 said:

I wonder if we'll see Lego The Simpsons. The sets and figures seem to he a huge hit amongst the older crowd and they even did a Lego episode recently.



8bitforever said:

Just for the record the Vita version is identical but the graphics and cutscenes are very nice. Too bad this version ended up bad, I have all the Lego games for my Vita and love them but assumed they were just prettier versions of the 3DS games but it sounds like they are a little more. The
WiiU version is nice though. Not sure what happened to these since Lego Lord of the Rings on 3DS was really good.



Grannamir said:

For this game i have to agree they not achieve the best final results.
As for the series been "repetitive" it just means people like the Lego franchise and still are buying it. For me, personally i just love Lego franchise, it's always fun to play the game and laugh a lot with the comedy lines.



2Sang said:

A mediocre lego game? I'm so shocked. Although, I will say I thought the lego batman demo was okay.



ThumperUK said:

The BBC licensed Doctor Who to 'Character Building' who make Lego compatible bricks and sets (and are pretty poor against true Lego). As a result, a Lego Doctor Who game (or lego sets) are extremely unlikely unless they get out of the CB licensing agreements - Doctor Who licensing has nothing to do with Steven Moffat ( might be better if he was!)



epicdude12302 said:

@Gerbwmu Yes, but since I like Marvel so much, I think it's better than Lego City. There's lots of cars to drive around, over 100 super heroes, fun missions, and of course, free roam, which is really fun with flying characters like Iron Man. it's like this on every console but the Vita and 3DS.



Barbiegurl777 said:

I just bought this game on sale in the 3ds e-shop about a week ago. It's pretty fun.

Happy Gaming! (^_^)

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