Another year, another trek through a building block infested world. The LEGO series of games has put us in Batman’s suit, holding Indiana Jones whip, and now we travel to the world of hobbits and orcs with LEGO The Hobbit. Like a yearly sports release, the LEGO series has shown small improvements each year to the formula and this year is no different. However, it would have been nice to see the developers finally solve some key issues and add much-requested features.
LEGO The Hobbit follows the events of the first two hobbit movies, as Bilbo Baggins has teamed up with a group of Dwarfs to try and claim back their homeland Erebor from the dragon Smaug. It makes sense that the game follows along with the first two movies as the third hasn’t released yet, but it really makes the ending to the game a bit awkward as there really isn’t a true ending. As someone who has seen both movies, it was really cool to see the great sense of humor added to very serious scenes of the movies.
Cooperative play is the name of the game when it comes to the LEGO series and The Hobbit is no different. The game takes it a bit further than past titles however, as you have anywhere close to 8 characters on screen at once during some levels and you have some new coop elements to play with. Stack up dwarf’s at certain areas of levels to reach higher places or buddy up with your teammate to perform a buddy attack. This attack can be used at anytime during the level but comes in most handy when trying to break a wall or take down a large enemy.
As you have so many possible choices during levels, the game actually provides you a reason to use most of the characters in your party. One of the dwarfs has a bow, one has a slingshot, and then one has a big hammer. All of these weapons will need to be used at some point throughout each level, whether you are weighing down something with the slingshot or knocking a boulder out of the way with the hammer. Each dwarf has multiple weapons and abilities which helps spice up the gameplay a bit, giving you plenty of options throughout each level.
Outside of the main story levels, which once beaten can be played in free play mode, there will be plenty for players to do throughout the world. The world, which is bigger than you might expect for a LEGO game, allows you to travel all around it, performing quests for NPCs and collecting bricks and loot. Loot is something new to the series, as you collect boards, fish, stone, and much more. This loot can be used during the levels to build a needed device or used at the Blacksmith to craft special weapons or items. Bricks can be collected throughout the game which allows you once purchased to unlock different cheats to use during your playthrough and like past LEGO games, you can also purchase multiple different characters to use during the game.
Now I mentioned earlier how there were some issues here in The Hobbit that sadly has been there for almost every LEGO game and hasn’t been fixed. This is namely the glitches and freezes in the game. During my playthrough, I had the game freeze up completely over 6 times, with 3 of those coming at the same exact part of a level when I switched characters too fast. I could forgive these issues a little bit if they didn’t happen every single time they released a LEGO game. There were also a few occasions where I completed a quest, only to have the game not recognize it and making me redo the quest to complete it again.
A minor issue I found too was while playing co-op with my wife. The game lets you visit two different areas of the map and work on separate things, which is nice. However, if I was working on a specific quest and then my wife started talking to an NPC to gain a new quest, the game collapses the split screen and reads you the quest. This becomes increasingly annoying when one person is in the middle of doing something and a quest is started, sometimes accidentally. This would be fixed with an option for online co-op, however that has still not been realized in the series sadly.
Outside of some issues, LEGO The Hobbit is a step forward in the series. Gathering loot and buddy attacks are super additions that do just enough to improve the series. It is obvious that the devs were strapped to reach a big amount of playable characters and it is annoying to see issues not fixed. For fans of the LEGO series, you will be happy you picked this up and for those new to the series, this is a good entry into the LEGO realm.