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LEGO: The Hobbit – A Review

LEGO: The Hobbit

Available now for Xbox 360 and Xbox One, ‘LEGO: The Hobbit’ is the latest game from developer  Traveller’s Tales and just like ‘LEGO: Lord Of The Rings‘ is based on the films made by Peter Jackson. What makes both games stand out is that they use the voice tracks direct from the films for the characters. Unlike LEGO: LOTR however, LEGO: The Hobbit is not a complete game as it uses “An Unexpected Journey” and “The Desolation of Smaug” films. The third and final film in The Hobbit trilogy is not released until the end of this year. So can a game featuring only two films of a trilogy be worth the money right now?

I will start off by saying that enjoyment of LEGO: The Hobbit does rely on the player having watched The Hobbit films to really get the most out of the game. The way in which key scenes from the films are used to create levels for the player is again something Travelers Tales excel in for their LEGO Games. The opening section plays out just as the intro to “An Unexpected Journey” begins with the recreation of the time when Smaug the Dragon first attacks and takes over the dwarf kingdom of Erebor. It never ceases to amaze me just how much detail Travellers Tales puts into these recreations. Enhanced by using the voice tracks from the film, it is a beautiful way to set the tone and pull the player into  the story and immerse you in the world of Middle Earth.

LEGO: The Hobbit

If you have watched the films then you will notice that some of the dialogue scenes from the films have been cut down to fit the shortened scenes in the game. But it is the levels that really bring the magic home. From the first moments in Erebor to witnessing the stress for Bilbo as 13 strange looking Dwarves happily sit down to dinner and the mayhem they bring to Bilbo’s quiet home. A nice moment is how the “Doing the Dishes” song and sequence in the film has been turned into a mini game where you have to press the right button after prompts on screen to successfully help the Dwarves wash up Bilbo’s mother’s best china. It is a good example of how much detail has been put into the game.

Once of the highlights of The Hobbit is the large cast of characters the story has, and each one has a place in the gameplay. Bilbo, Gandalf and the Thirteen Dwarves; Thorin Oakenshield, Fili, Kili, Balin, Dwalin, Oin, Gloin, Ori, Dori, Nori, Bifur, Bofur and Bombur. With so many characters you would expect there to be little difference between them, but instead they are used to break up the gameplay very nicely. Each Dwarf can partner up to perform a special attack or needed to get pass an obstacle or solve a puzzle. Simply pressing B on the controller will pair character’s up and is great fun in battle to have two dwarves spinning around with their axes and shields cutting down any Orc that gets in the way. Different dwarfs will have a unique ability; Kili will be able to use a bow and Arrow whilst his brother Fili will have the ability to dig. Dwalin has the ability to use his huge hammer to smash blocks out the way and Dori uses a chain in order to pull down structures. It is a very clever way of making use of the whole ensemble of characters and the levels are designed in such a way that switching between them all to navigate and complete a level is easy to understand and enjoyable.

LEGO: The Hobbit actually puts both films together for the game. It is one continuous playthrough to complete the story missions. Due to the films having to be cut down to be adapted for the game,  in order to keep the flow of the story clear, the game has a narrator in the form of Saruman The White. Voiced by Sir Christopher Lee himself; it really gives a great bonus to how the game tells the story, and the gravitas in his voice always keeps you focused in the world and the story as the game moves from big screen moments to the next. The same technique was not used for LEGO: Lord of The Rings, and as it feels that The Hobbit has been cut down to size more so for LEGO: The Hobbit, this decision is nothing short of genius.

LEGO The Hobbit

One of the staggering things about LEGO games is the huge amount of gameplay they have. As always, the main story levels have to be completed once before you can return for “Free Play”, the chance to replay the level but having the ability to pick any character you have unlocked to access areas or complete puzzles you would have been unable to complete originally. So for example, the first time you play you may come across a collectible that is locked behind a wall or obstacle that requires the talent of a character you do not have access to. Replaying in Free Mode allows you to pick the right character to make use of their ability. This means you have to at least play the game through twice to get all the collectibles and for me, the most fun part of a LEGO game is the Free Play mode.

Outside the main story levels you will also have the opportunity to complete side quests, retrieving or building items that random characters in the world of Middle Earth request. Completing these will earn you rewards. Building items is a new feature for LEGO: The Hobbit. Due to the Dwarfs being famous for building amazing things, alongside collecting LEGO Pegs, you can now also collect raw materials such as wood, stone, rope, food and precious stones. These can be traded around the world as you progress. Their most important use is during levels where for the first time, a 3D virtual LEGO Building mini game is used to build items necessary to complete the level. The mini game is very clever. You will be shown a 3D representation of of the object on the right hand side, on the left you will be shown different options in a wheel. You will be shown the correct component required and have to quickly choose it from the wheel. A bonus of 20,000 LEGO pegs is a reward for completing the build quickly. Take too long or pick the wrong component and the bonus amount is diminished. If you have ever built a LEGO Set in the real world, this mini game will have extra charm.

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LEGO: The Hobbit is the same high standard you would expect. Every location in the story is recreated beautifully in the game and both films are amazing to experience through the game. But that is also where I experience my only and biggest problem with this game. It is incomplete. The game is based on the films and as a direct result, because it has been based on and released after only two of the three films that make up Peter Jackson’s trilogy, you get to the end of “The Desolation of Smaug” and as the credits roll you are left wondering what about the third film. LEGO: LOTR was released as a complete game with all three films used to make up the game. LEGO: Star Wars was first released as the original trilogy first but then put together as the Complete Saga once the game based on the Prequel trilogy was completed. For me, as much as I loved playing this game and will continue to do so, the timing of its release is strange. There is no reason why it could not have been released at Christmas as “The Battle of the Five Armies” is released in the cinema. It would no doubt have sold in greater numbers with that film release as well as the festive season.

Currently reports are suggesting that the final film will be released as DLC around the same time the film hits cinemas on December 17th. Eight Months is a long time to wait for the “complete” version of LEGO: The Hobbit. Going by how much fun the game currently is, the wait will be worth it but it would also be fair to say you can have same experience in December if you pick up the game then, no doubt at a much reduced retail price, then to buy the game now at full retail price. It is a strange move to have released it now to tie in with the second film on home release rather then in December when the complete Trilogy is out.

There is just so much gameplay and love in this game for the source material that just as with LEGO: Lord of The Rings, LEGO: The Hobbit recreates the story, the world and the characters with detail and precision. The voice track and narration by Sir Christopher Lee as Saruman The White, both add that extra magic to a LEGO game that already had so much to begin with. As above, despite it being an amazing game with so much to do in it, being based on only two instead of three Hobbit films bothers me greatly. I would say if you can get this for a good bargain price go for it as it really is just brilliant if you know and like the films, but it will be so much cheaper when the final film is released and the final part of this game available as DLC.

The decision to once again not use Online Co-Op play was disappointing. I still do not understand why the very best LEGO games that would be so much fun with friends online lack the feature. That combined with the incomplete feel of the game due to being based on two films and not the full trilogy stops me from giving the game any higher a score, which is a shame. When the DLC is release to complete the game, I will be more then happy to complete this review accordingly.

Thank you to Xbox for providing LEGO: The Hobbit to thisisxbox.com.

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The LEGO Movie Videogame Review

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I’ve always found the Lego games to be hit or miss, a franchise never quite hitting the mark; sometimes doing well, sometimes a dull as dirty dishwater. Most of them are made fairly well, with small improvements manifesting every few games. However, the series still has some nagging issues that continue to plague it and Lego Movie doesn’t really break with the tradition, it has a few decent ideas in it, and covers the source material well, but the old issues do rear their head from time to time which can spoil some of the fun.

First and foremost, I’ll try to avoid any spoilers on the movie. But it has to be said, if you’re even considering this game, I’d say you need to watch the movie first. If you come away enjoying the movie, you’ll enjoy the game (for a set period of time at least) since all of the charm comes from the movie premise and the cast of characters. The game itself simply follows the same arc, including some shortened footage of the movie to string together a leaner version of the story.

There are 15 levels to explore in the game. Characters, per the norm, have different skills which you can use to solve the various puzzles you encounter. Emmet has a drill that he can use for destroying specific walls, but also a wrench he can use to repair certain machines and can use Construction plans. Wyldstyle can jump higher, swing on poles and has Master Builder powers. Batman can use his grapple to pull things, scale some buildings, and throw batarangs. Vitruvius can walk on narrow ledges and isn’t afraid of heights (most characters are), and also has Master Builder powers.

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Unlike recent LEGO franchise games (such as LEGO Marvel Heroes), you are not given an open city to roam around in. Generally speaking, you’re given a free-roam area matching the theme of your most recent mission that is fairly small. With five distinctive sets, one in each of the plot’s major worlds, you can unlock extra characters, game modifiers that alter things like the value of collected pegs or increased health, and of course money from smashing everything in sight. Also much like LEGO Marvel Heroes, the same impassable barriers exist throughout both modes, requiring you to progress through the game before returning to unlock these areas. A perfect example would be golden doors – you need to have a character that shoots lasers. None of these are provided until you’ve progressed to near the end of the game, and even one that can be purchased won’t appear until you’re at the ¾ mark.

I’d like to say there is nothing wrong with the game but as I mentioned before, the same issues plague this title as they did the previous one. I can think of more than five occurrences where one of my characters was stuck and could not move. Returning to the main menu was the only fix for this. Given the years of experience that the LEGO game developer Tt Games now has with this franchise, LEGO game engines and the lack of open-world exploration in this particular title, I would have expected clipping issues to not hinder a  game where the presentation was by no means pushing any boundaries.

Things like camera issues, bad vehicle controls, too many nothing characters, and no online play make me question if Tt Games realise its 2014. To my knowledge, none of the Lego games have had online play, which is baffling because they’ve all been tailor made to be co-op games. You can say that they are meant for kids, and that is somewhat accurate, but adults play them also, and the series stubborn refusal to ever go online is a big hindrance when the most of us now live our lives via the WWW.

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The game is also not particularly stable, which is also sadly somewhat par for the course with these Lego games. I fell through the level geometry At one stage causing the camera to heavily freak out on me and cause a dizzy headache. Also, fire, and the character of MetalBeard tend to drag the game’s framerate down quite a bit. MetalBeard can fire rockets which explode, and if there is a lot going onscreen, the framerate turns nasty.

It wasn’t all bad and there were some moments in the game that felt inspired, such as Benny’s hacking mini-game which amounts to a LEGO Pac-Man variant, or Emmet’s building minigame where you use the wheel to select the missing piece as he builds a LEGO kit (he does follow instructions, after all). But unfortunately as is the way, the game dragged on and these elements became less-and-less fun, and the puzzle solving more tedious.

I didn’t experience any problems with the graphics, but then that’s not necessarily a good thing. Every now and then the game would decide to hang up on itself and freeze, but nothing that could be classed as game breaking. There was nothing to say that this game is next generation at all. I appreciate the availability of the game on all platforms, however at full retail price it stings knowing that there are other games available which offer more for the same price. Thief, Titanfall and other such similar games.

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As the game started off, I was initially OK with the fact we were reliving The Special’s adventure from the movie, as the first few levels offer a ‘between the movie scenes’ moment. The game itself kept a pace and direction that felt like its take on the plot would yield some new laughs – unfortunately as it dragged on, it didn’t deliver. As the story continued it brought no real content to the already-complete theatrical presentation. If you skipped the film entirely perhaps some of the gags could have been funnier, but even Bad Cop’s chair-kicking required the film to appreciate. By the time I finished the main story I found no real pull to go back, even though there are a number of collectibles.

Sadly, LEGO The Movie Videogame fails to live up to the expectations set by both its source material and its video gaming forebears. A few inspired moments of gameplay give way to a bland-ness, while lacking any real substance to provide reason to revisit. Long loading times, last-gen caliber graphics and moments where bugs stop gameplay underline the lack of attention.

Thank you to Xbox for providing thisisxbox.com with the review code.

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LEGO Movie the Videogame Coming February 2014

In February 2014, The LEGO Movie Videogame will be released on both Xbox 360 and Xbox One (other platforms too) as mentioned in an official press release today.

The LEGO Movie Videogame will bring players into the humorous and action-packed role of Emmet, an ordinary LEGO minifigure mistakenly thought to be “The Special”—a character prophesized to save the world from an evil LEGO tyrant. Throughout the game, players can harness the awesome power of the Master Builders to construct new extraordinary LEGO creations, while taking on the role of more than 90 playable characters inspired by the film in 15 exciting levels.

This is set to be an authentic LEGO experience like never before, with a brand new LEGO visual animation style which simulates the movement and feel of actual LEGO toy sets.

Watch the trailer above and prepare to be amazed!

Xbox One LEGO Marvel Super Heroes Given New EU Release Date

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With news flying out of every outlet in recent weeks of the PS4 bettering the Xbox One in framerate and pixel output, it became worrying that LEGO Marvel Super Heroes which was due out on launch day was going to be delayed until 2014. A lot of people, myself included, were worried that there may be underlying issues with the One that we are not yet aware of. As it turns out, the news is not so drastic. We’re still unaware of the reason for the delay, but the delay has now been shortened to a mere week. The new release date for LEGO Marvel Super Heroes on the Xbox One in Europe is now November 29th.

Again, grab your block building fun on November 29th. Rest easy, true believers.

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes Are Back With New Trailer

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes are back, this time revealing the brick-building plot of the game, with an all-new new trailer just in time for Gamescom! Do you have what it takes to destroy Dr. Doom and his Dr. Doom Doomray of Doom?

See some of your favourite Super Heroes and Super Villains of the Marvel Universe in interacting in the trailer, including Dr. Doom, Dr. Octopus, Spiderman, Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, Nick Fury, Wolverine, Storm, Cyclops and more!

Check out the awesome trailer (with a huge villain reveal) above.

Out for Xbox 360 this Autumn and Xbox One at launch.

The LEGO Movie Videogame will be available in 2014

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The fate of the LEGO world lies in your hands! Warner Bros and TT Games today announced that The LEGO Movie Videogame will be available in 2014 for current and next-gen platforms based on the upcoming movie.

In a scenario drawn from the film, The LEGO Movie Videogame puts LEGO kids into the role of Emmet, an ordinary, rules-following, perfectly average LEGO minifigure who is mistakenly identified as the most extraordinary person and the key to saving the world. Players guide him as he is drafted into a fellowship of strangers on an epic quest to stop an evil tyrant, a journey for which Emmet is hopelessly and hilariously underprepared.

Gamers will be able to collect and use LEGO instruction pages to build construction sets or harness the awesome power of the Master Builders to virtually build extraordinary LEGO creations along the way. With more than 90 characters inspired by the film and 15 exciting levels, kids can build and adventure like never before.

LEGO Lord of the Rings Review

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I don’t know about you, but I love LEGO. No seriously, I actually do. Earlier this year when I went to San Diego for Comic Con 2012 (yes, I am a real geek!), I visited the local LEGO store and spent 3 hours in there. When I was younger I would sneak LEGO pieces home from my Grandparents house because I hadn’t quite finished the adventure I was having. I still now look at LEGO collections and want to buy them. It’s the lack of space in my apartment that stops me. It’s the fact LEGO inspires creativity and imagination – not mindless consumerism. Maybe you haven’t touched a brick since you were a kid but if you’re a gamer there’s a good chance you’re more than familiar with the virtual versions. Continue reading LEGO Lord of the Rings Review

Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes Review

I need to make an admission. It’s an admission that I’m afraid will do nothing but enhance my current level of nerdosity in the eyes of my friends, colleagues and peers (my family already know the score.)

Ahem……I’m a big fan of all things mysterious.

There, I said it. UFO’s, Nessie, Yeti’s, Bigfeet (that is the plural of Bigfoot isn’t it?), Beasts of Bodmin and other remote moorlands, ghosts, aliens, conspiracies, the successful career of Keanu Reeves, Wayne Rooney’s hairdo, the allure of plain crisps and Lego.

Yes, Lego.

Continue reading Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes Review