Released by Travellers Tales
It's all about The Hobbit at the moment, isn't it, my preciouses?
From the release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in cinemas, you can't really escape Middle Earth at the moment - and now those clever developers Travellers Tales have got in on the act as well with the release of the LEGO version of the Lord of the Rings.
And what a LEGO game it is.
It's fair to say the most recent LEGO game releases have skewed more kid friendly and have been less than challenging, almost stale with overkill. So, the developers have taken that on board and have changed the game this time around - and it soars because of it.
The game follows the series pretty closely - although, I've yet to work out if there's an extended version of LEGO LOTR where you get an extra few hours play - in that you play Frodo and the rest of the Hobbits as they head out on the quest to get rid of the one ring to rule them all. You also get to play as the rest of the crew - from Gandalf to Aragorn, everyone gets a go at being part of the Fellowship.
While the basic tenets of the LEGO game remain in check (from stud collecting to puzzle solving) the developers have opened up parts of the world to a larger scale and it really benefits for it. As well as searching for bricks, you also get to take part in quests and carry out little tasks around Middle Earth, which take you slightly away from the main storyline, but allow for a bit more scale and scope which has been lacking in previous titles. The open world gives a welcome change to a format which has become a little tired and stale and in need of a spruce up. Plus in 2 player mode, it gives a chance for a bit more fun.
Graphically, as you'd hope for a LOTR series which was always about the scenery, the backgrounds are pretty stunning and true to what Peter Jackson and WETA set out to create. And the biggest bonus of the whole thing - having the original actors voice their characters. It's a surprise I hadn't been expecting to be honest and it's a touch which shows that Travellers Tales actually cared about this latest release - and the fans who would flock to it. It's a welcome move and one which adds to the Rings and Tolkein canon.
Sure, there's still a pretty strong emphasis on puzzle solving, item gathering and platforming but this is a game which actually revitalises the whole LEGO gaming format which desperately needed a revamp.
By adding in the quests, utilising the original voice talent and giving this an open world feel, it very nearly scales the heights of epic - and shows there's life in the old bricks yet.
Roll on the LEGO Hobbit...