S&S Review: LEGO: The Hobbit

Title: LEGO: The Hobbit
Format: PS4, PS3(reviewed), Xbox 360, Xbox One, Vita, Wii U, PC, Mac
Release Date: April 11, 2014
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive
Developer: TT Games
Price: $59.99
ESRB Rating: E

The Hobbit is the latest universe to get overhauled into a LEGO video game, and although it isn't as great as LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, it's still a solid and charming experience.

Story and Presentation:
The narrative in LEGO: The Hobbit follows the first two movies, an Unexpected Journey and the Desolation of Smaug.  In traditional LEGO fashion, the game covers all of the major plot events from the movie, while adding a bit of charm and humor into the mix.  I simultaneously watched the two movies and finished the game over the weekend, and the game follows the movie pretty closely.  I was essentially watching the same plot line twice, but I was still enjoying how well the Hobbit translated into the iconic LEGO form.  If you enjoyed the narratives in the movies, then you'll enjoy the adventure in the game, it's that simple.  The soundtrack is absolutely fantastic, it mimics the movies' music, but I don't think anybody will tire of the Hobbit's Theme anytime soon.  If you have the opportunity to use headphones while playing, you definitely need to make full use of em to clearly hear the wonderful orchestral score.  I fully expected a great soundtrack, seeing as how the Lord of the Rings had a great soundtrack, and the Hobbit basically serves as a prequel those movies.  I can't say enough about the music in The Hobbit, it's definitely the brightest component of the Hobbit.  The visuals in the game are rich, and offer up a ton of diversity in the environments.  I played through the game on the PS3, and it looked great.  The next gen versions do bring crisper visuals to the table, but you can't go wrong with either version.
Core Gameplay and Multiplayer:
The gameplay in the past few LEGO games have been great, as the devs continue to find new mechanics to implement, but the Hobbit takes a few step backs in the innovation department.  You'll quickly become accustomed to the game's simple format.  Breaking down destructible objects and building up them back up into useful objects is still a big part here, which has been a key gameplay mechanic in pretty much every LEGO game.  The puzzles are fairly simple, as you simply use the specific item or weapon that can interact with it's corresponding object in the environment.  As long as you know which character uses which specific item, the puzzles won't be a problem in any way.  This is also a game that is aimed at children, but I have always found it enjoyable despite it's simplicity.  Just like before, the best way to experience the game is to play it with a friend.  I would have liked to have the option to play it online, but since split-screen is still a viable option for me, it didn't bother me that I couldn't play it online.  You can blow through the single player campaign in about 6 hours if you choose to do so, but the game offers you a lot of incentive to go back and continue your journey.  When you complete a main story mission, you unlock several Middle-Earth events to complete during your free play.  You can also unlock a ton of characters with the coins you collect throughout your playtime, and gives you complete freedom on who you would like to play as. There are also some areas with puzzles in the game where certain characters can only complete, forcing you to go back to previous areas with different characters in order to fully complete the game.  
Final Thoughts:
If you've grown tired of the traditional LEGO format, the game won't change your mind in any way. I didn't find it as fun as LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, but I still enjoyed the game in the end.

+Beautiful visuals that capture the Hobbit's unique aesthetic
+Loads of content
-Combat is sluggish 
-Dated mechanics
S&S Rating: 7/10


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