LEGO: The Lord of the Rings Gamescom 2012 Preview -- Middle-earth ExplorationBy Leah Jackson - Posted Aug 21, 2012
Each new LEGO game that Traveller's Tales creates always manages to stack the bricks higher than before. With LEGO: The Lord of the Rings, the team is developing a proper open-world LEGO experience, one substantially larger and more amitious than that seen in the recent LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes. And is there really any better place to do it than in Tolkien's Middle-earth? Everywhere in LEGO Middle-earth will be explorable in the seamless, beautifully realized world based on both the famous novels and Peter Jackson's glorious films.
Our demo began shortly after the films did, in the serene village of Hobbiton as the hobbits were getting ready for Bilbo's big 111th birthday party. Hobbiton comes to life spectacularly in LEGO, with lush plants sprouting up from every hobbit hole and bright blue skies that give off a peaceful feeling to the whole scene.
Instead of sticking around for the party though, Traveller's Tales decided to show off the seamless world of LEGO: LOTR, and set off on a journey mirroring that of the Hobbits' trip to Rivendell from The The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring. To find our way, we followed the ghost studs, similar to those that were in the LEGO: Harry Potter games, all the way to Farmer Maggot's field and through the woods to Bree. As we left Hobbiton, the world around us began to change from peaceful to dark and rainy, exactly like it did in the movies.
While the ghost studs will lead you from one story point to the next, LEGO: LOTR is all about exploration and "following your nose" as it were. Hidden in each environment are all sorts of dungeons to uncover and quests to complete. We even came upon The Lost Kingdom of Arnor, the sister to Gondar, while running around.
Quests are a new addition to LEGO games, and they fit in brilliantly with the addition of LEGO: LOTR's new backpack feature. With the backpack, you can pick up items you find anywhere in the world and present them in different places to solve new types of puzzles and to complete quests given to you from various characters spread throughout the world.
For example, when in Bree, one dwarf asked us to go on a fetch quest for him to retrieve his lost shield in the Mines of Moria. If you can go there and get it for him, he'll reward you with a Mithril Brick, another new addition to LEGO: LOTR.
Mithril Bricks are what you'll use in LEGO: LOTR to upgrade your items. You'll be able to upgrade tons of items in LEGO: LOTR, including weapons and gear. In our demo, we were able to use Mithril Bricks to upgrade Legolas' bow so he could shoot faster, or our boots to make us jump higher. Characters will also progress throughout the game, so when Frodo gets Sting for example, he’ll be able to deal more damage to orcs than he could with his previous sword.
After our brief stint in Bree, which looks exactly how it does in the movies, we set off through the woods again towards Weathertop, the famous mountain in which Frodo gets stabbed by the Witch-king of Angmar. The view from the top of Weathertop is simply stunning; you can see all the way to the Misty Mountains, down towards the Mines of Moria, and even all the way back to Hobbiton, where we originally set off from.
Luckily fast travel will be available in LEGO: LOTR, so after visiting all of your favorite famous places from the series, you'll be able to travel to and from them quickly in order to complete quests and explore even more.
Eventually, we made our way to Rivendell, which looked just as beautiful in the game as it did in the films. The lighting in the entire area had a dusky shade to it, representing that the sun was setting on the elves’ time in Middle-earth. The architecture was Elvish mixed with LEGO, and every statue was made of LEGO characters, rather than elves, which was great.
Once we explored Rivendell a bit, the demo switched over from a tour of Middle-earth to the climactic Battle of Helm's Deep from The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. The second part of the demo portrayed Aragon's Return all the way to the end of the battle, almost shot for shot from the movies.
All of the characters in LEGO: LOTR are voiced by the actual actors from the films (via dialogue pulled directly from the movies), giving the game a more cinematic feel than any of the other LEGO offerings so far. That said, TT still goes to great lengths to keep the classic LEGO humor in there, even when characters are delivering dramatic lines. For example, when Aragorn is giving word to Theoden that an army of orcs is on the way to destroy the race of men, the LEGO faces all react in silly ways and Aragorn finds a fish stuck in his jacket from his earlier brush with death.
When the Battle for Helm's Deep begins, players can assume the role of Legolas, Gimli, or Aragorn. Each character controls very differently, and they're all needed in order to get through each level. Legolas is used for shooting targets with his little LEGO bow, Gimli can smash through things with his axe, and Aragorn uses his sword to beat through dozens of incoming orcs.
The battle plays out almost shot for shot as it does in the movie. Your first task is to shoot the orcs' ladders down so that they can't get over the Deeping Wall. However, like in the movie, eventually, they just blow a massive hole through the side of the wall and begin pouring in from a different route. The battle continues, and eventually to save the day, Gimli and Aragorn force their way to the front of the keep to drive the orcs off the bridge. Aragorn even tosses Gimli in to them at one point, recreating the famous "I can't jump the distance, you'll have to toss me!" scene from the films. In fact, any tall character can toss Gimli, which is amazing.
The demo finished with Aragorn and King Theoden riding their LEGO horses out to meet Eomer and Gandalf, who've in the nick of time brought all the reinforcements our heroes need. It was an impressive ending to the demo, watching thousands of LEGO horses gallop down a hill straight in to an entire army of LEGO orcs, and one that really encapsulated the glorious feeling that I got from watching that part of the movie.
While the idea of playing through the entire Lord of the Rings saga in LEGO form is enough to excite fans of both franchises, TT have definitely gone the extra mile to add in enough content to ensure that enthusiasts will be absolutely delighted with their latest effort. On top of the gorgeous, seamless world that's peppered with hidden areas from within the canon to explore, over 80 playable characters will be featured in the massive title. In addition to new features like questing and upgrading, LEGO: LOTR promises to be more than just a mere trinket, but perhaps the one LEGO game to rule them all.
LEGO: The Lord of the Rings will be out for the PC, Wii, Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 3, Nintendo DS, and Xbox 360 this October It will also be released for the Wii U later this year.