Friday, December 07, 2012

LEGO The Lord of the Rings (Xbox 360) Demo Impressions

As someone who's spent a good bit of his life gaming away, I actually haven't experienced the LEGO games all that much.  Outside of a few demos, I really just played and enjoyed LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game back on my Xbox some six and a half years ago.  When I heard they were releasing LEGO The Lord of the Rings though, my interest was peaked, and I was pleasantly surprised to find a demo waiting on the Xbox LIVE Marketplace last weekend.

The demo features the battle for Helm's Deep, one of everyone's favourite battles from The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and players can take control of Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimili as they fight to protect the fortress.

Visually, I thought the demo looked real good.  The environment was rich and detailed and close attention was paid to the set, and of course much of the environment is LEGO-built giving it the charm and style the franchise is famous for.  The character model mini-figs are also well detailed and animate smoothly.

The music is taken straight from the films, and this is the first LEGO title, demo or otherwise, that I experienced where actual dialogue is used.  One thing I loved about LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game was the lack of dialogue, and how the story I knew so well was told in an over-exaggerated fashion with lots of campy jokes.  Personally, I wish that was still done here as I found the dialogue, though taken straight from the film, felt out of place.  The developers were trying to do the usual jokes I've come to expect from the franchise, however the humour just didn't contrast well with the serious sounding voice acting.  Not only that, but the voice samples seemed to be of a lower sampling quality, killing the feel even further.

The gameplay is the same tried and true formula we've all seen before, and this isn't a bad thing at all.  Aragorn can hack and slash his way through Uruk-hai, and Legolas can switch between his bow and arrow to pick off targets or use his knives for close in work.  Gimli attacks with his axe and can also smash certain blocks or stone with a power attack, making him very useful for situational specific puzzles.

Often though I found enemies could hit me while attacking, or Legolas would surge forward too much and miss, making for less press combat than I'd hoped for.  This wasn't the end of the world but was a bit frustrating when it resulted in death and the loss of some studs I'd collected. I did really enjoy the sequence on the wall, where you had to keep knocking down ladders with arrow shots or Gimli's special attack.

Despite the dialogue design decision that I wasn't keen on, I enjoyed my playthrough of the demo, and I will look into the full retail title when it hits the $19.99 price point.

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