The LEGO series is one of the most highly-regarded franchises that specializes in taking popular licenses and putting the LEGO spin on them. Travelers Tales have been helming the LEGO series of video games for a while now, bringing beloved series such as Star Wars and Harry Potter to LEGO form with great results. However, the amount of LEGO games that have been coming out lately has increased A LOT, and LEGO The Hobbit happens to be smack in the middle of these seemingly-endless LEGO games. Is the LEGO formula getting stale? Well, a little bit.
For those of you not in the know, The Hobbit tells the story of the peaceful and reserved Bilbo Baggins (the eponymous hobbit) who suddenly finds himself thrown into a huge adventure when the wizard Gandalf comes knocking on his door. He brushes the old wizard off at first, but when a crowd of dwarves end up coming to Bilbo’s home, eat all of his food and talk of the home that they are trying to get back form the evil dragon Smaug, he ends up caving in and going along.
I can’t state enough how wonderfully the LEGO visuals and Tolkien’s world mix together in this game, as it has a light-hearted charm but also a sense of epic scale and wonder. Even though almost everything is made out of LEGOs, the environments look lush and detailed, always making the world seem truly vast and exciting. The character models are also very nice, with all of our favorite hobbits, wizards, dwarves and elves looking fabulous in their new LEGO forms.
Accompanying the visual charm is the dialogue’s charm, with every character interaction being absolutely precious and often hilarious. The sense of humor in this game is perfect, as many of the more serious and dramatic moments from The Hobbit movies are parodied in a way that made me laugh many times. The game is able to balance these tonal shifts very well, as I never thought that the comedy was forced or the sense of conflict too overbearing.
Like in just about every LEGO game, the gameplay is rather simple and to-the-point. You run around collecting LEGO pieces that you can use to purchase or upgrade things, and you get those LEGO pieces by laying waste to just about anything that is in your way.You also get them from defeating enemies, of which you will come across many of in the game. This is probably where LEGO The Hobbit stumbles the most, as the combat scenarios quickly get repetitive due to their lack of variety and difficulty. Luckily there are enough impressive locales and characters to make these situations not as problematic as they otherwise would be.
The world of LEGO The Hobbit is impressively large, offering you plenty of things to do outside of the main game. As you make your way across Middle-earth you will come across a variety of interesting characters that will need your help in some way or another, and it’s up to you to lend a helping hand. Some of these characters will ask you to help them find a missing person, while others will be looking for a particular LEGO piece that you need to hunt down. The rewards for completing these quests are nice enough, but due to the game’s very easy difficulty they aren’t very necessary.
LEGO The Hobbit presents a beautiful world that blends both LEGO and Tolkien together in an amazing way, but it’s the series’ lack of gameplay variety and difficulty that keeps it from being a true knockout. Luckily, even if you have the slightest interest in either LEGO or Tolkien you will probably be more than happy to overlook its flaws and get swept away in this charming adventure. LEGO The Hobbit may not be as perfect as it could have been, but it nevertheless is an enjoyable adventure that just about anyone can find some value in.