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'Lego The Hobbit' review: A beautiful but repetitive journey through Middle-earth
Lego the Hobbit
"Lego The Hobbit" - photo by

Having already applied the signature Lego brick-and-minifigures style to every major franchise from "Star Wars" to "Harry Potter" to "The Lord of the Rings," “Lego The Hobbit” isn’t exactly an unexpected journey for Warner Bros. Interactive and TT Games.
Nor will it be for anyone who’s familiar with the basic game play of the Lego video game series.
As the third Lego title in less than a year, “Lego The Hobbit” leaves the formula pretty much unchanged from previous entries: trek around as one of numerous playable characters, many with unique attributes, and break objects to collect studs and other items.
Of course, the big difference is the window dressing. In this case, Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth is often downright stunning to look at, notwithstanding some other issues that might frustrate gamers.
It’s kind of strange to say this about something based on a line of toys known for its simple designs, but this is quite possibly the best Middle-earth has looked in any video game to date. Other than the blocky Lego objects themselves, which are usually breakable and scattered throughout the realistic, New Zealand-inspired landscapes, the details of Middle-earth are spot on. TT Games really captured the rich fantasy world of the movies but includes the whimsical vibe that’s made the Lego games so popular.
And “Lego The Hobbit” is chock full of little treats for fans of the Jackson movies.
So far, at least, this game follows just the storyline from the first two films, dividing pretty much all the events, both major and minor, into 16 playable quests.
Just like in “An Unexpected Journey,” gamers begin with a flashback as Thorin in the dwarfish home of Erebor before it’s taken over by the dragon Smaug. From there, things follow the movies almost beat for beat. Depending on how much one enjoyed them to begin with, this can be either a good thing or a bad thing.
The same goes for the dialogue: Every line is pulled directly from the movies. For fans, having the actual voices of Martin Freeman, Ian McKellan, Andy Serkis, etc., is sure to be a welcome touch, but it also leaves the game a little tied down. The typical Lego sense of humor is still there but stuck mostly in the background this time as little visual gags while the story plays out just like it did in the movies themselves (albeit in a more truncated form).
One other nice touch is the inclusion of Howard Shore’s sweeping musical score, which for some fans, is as necessary an element to anything Lord of the Rings-related as John Williams’ score is to “Star Wars.”
Combined with the beautifully rendered environments and the movie-caliber voice acting, it helps give “Lego The Hobbit” a level of production value not usually seen in anything outside of astronomically budgeted triple-A titles like “Call of Duty.”
Unfortunately, for all its outward charm, the game play in “Lego The Hobbit” can become kind of monotonous.
The Story Mode, which can be completed in around eight hours (depending on how much one gets distracted collecting gold and silver studs), is overly scripted and linear. Glowing blue studs point exactly where to go, and although one can diverge from the path, there’s no real incentive to.
In fact, since a lot of the side quests require specific characters that are only available a second time through after purchasing them, it can actually become frustrating when a gamer starts a non-story quest and gets stuck partway through a puzzle only to realize that there’s no way to solve it yet.
What’s more, despite the huge number of playable characters, they’re virtually indiscernible from each other, especially the dwarves. Good luck remembering who has the flail versus the slingshot versus the spade, etc.
Most of all, the game play is just extremely repetitive. One can only break so many Lego rocks and Lego trees and Lego crates of Lego fish before the charm starts to wear off.
For younger gamers, a lot of this might not matter, though. In fact, the simplicity becomes a plus. The game is quite intuitive even for little kids, and the Lego style and humor take the edge off the scarier moments from the movies. Free Play and the virtually limitless amount of collectibles offer plenty of stuff to keep them busy — even if the only goal is a 100 percent completion rating — while local two-player split screen allows a friend or family member to join in on the fun.
Also, it should be mentioned that, while “Lego The Hobbit” only covers the first two movies right now, extra downloadable content for the third movie will be made available sometime after “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” hits theaters in December, so if this only feels like two-thirds of a complete game when the credits roll, well … it is.
Overall, despite some game play issues, “Lego The Hobbit” is a decent addition to the series that’s beautiful to look at and really captures the vibe of the movies. Fans of previous Lego games might not find anything all that innovative here, but the chance to hack it through Middle-earth again might be reason enough to invest, especially with the promise of another movie’s worth of game play in the not-too-distant future.
Game: "Lego The Hobbit"
Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita, PC
Price: $49.99
ESRB Rating: E 10+
Jeff Peterson is a native of Utah Valley and studied humanities and history at Brigham Young University. Along with the Deseret News, he also contributes to the film discussion website