LEGO The Hobbit review: one brick to rule them all

As they've done with the Lord of the Rings franchise, developer Travellers Tales has adapted the new Hobbit films into a LEGO game. Based on the first two films, LEGO: The Hobbit is a return to the tired-and-true LEGO formula. Once again, you'll find yourself bashing enemy forces to pieces (literally) while also building new objects to help you solve puzzles. Like in other LEGO games, players can choose different characters for different abilities. In The Hobbit, players choose between different dwarves, such as a bouncing one that can reach higher ledges, or one that can mine for additional materials, for example. It may take a little micro-management distinguishing one dwarf from another, however, since they're not very distinguished in appearance from one another. In Lego form, anyway. Your party will spend a great deal of time foraying across several locales from the films, which are stunningly recreated. The castle that Smaug takes over in the beginning of An Unexpected Journey, for example, is expertly rebuilt in LEGO. The dialogue is taken straight from the films, and while it may seem jarring at first putting such serious acting alongside LEGO figures, Travellers Tales makes it work. The compelling film score is also carried over, so fans will appreciate the melodies that go along with the epic action.

The dwarf gang is all here

As for the gameplay, it's very similar to LEGO games of old, as you'll smash objects and collect bonus bits to obtain additional gold bricks and truly "complete" a level. But there some new elements thrown in, as well. The first is the ability to craft items using tools that are collected in the environment and through destroyed items. This adds a nice strategic element to the game, as sometimes you'll need to do a little exploring in order to find what you're looking for. Secondly, the "add the piece" mini-games from The LEGO Movie Videogame returns, requiring you to pick the right element to complete a larger item in the game, providing extra LEGO bits as the right choice is made. This may require a bit of split-second thinking, but it pays off if you know what goes where, kind of like the real-world play sets. Finally, the game provides the kind of "break-apart" gameplay that all ages can get into, Lord of the Rings fanatics and kids alike. Beating up enemies is a matter of busting them to pieces, and solving puzzles and defeating bosses can take a little bit of brain power. Thankfully, it's never to the point of frustrating, and devoted players will definitely see it through to the end. Which leads to LEGO The Hobbit's biggest flaw: length. With the game only focusing on the first two films, the end can feel a bit inconclusive. And while you can go back through the adventure and unlock additional content by using certain characters, there isn't much meat to the experience. Even with all the extra missions and unlockables, you'll probably be done in about ten hours or so. As before, the game can also be played in two-player split-screen co-op, which works effectively well. Both parties can pretty much roam wherever they please, then join back up with their party in a seamless effort.

A Hobbit can't overcome these big dangers alone

Despite its sudden conclusion and its familiar gameplay, LEGO The Hobbit is a fitting adventure, adapting the films for younger and older players alike. [6]
This review is based upon a PS4 review copy provided by the publisher. Lego The Hobbit is available now for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. It is rated E10.