The Lord of the Rings is the original fantasy epic, a clash between the forces of good and evil that almost single-handedly defined the fantasy genre. From the beginning, LEGO LotR immerses the players in the struggle. As the Nazgul chase the hobbits, there is a real sense of dread and tension. In the mines of Moria and the battle at Helm's Deep, wave after wave of enemies surround your LEGO characters on all sides. One particularly nice touch is what happens when you try to explore an area in the hub world you haven't unlocked. For a brief moment, Sauron's flaming eye flashes on the screen in terrifying fashion. Even though it's still clearly a kid-friendly game, the struggles of the protagonists are quite intense.
Against the dark forces of evil, teamwork is absolutely required to win. LEGO LotR is perhaps the most cooperative of the series, apart from the lack of online co-op. The fixed split screen option returns, correcting the forced but dizzying dynamic split of LEGO Batman 2. There are lengthy sections where players must split up to meet their goals. Some of the best are when Frodo dons the Ring, taking him to a shadowy version of the game world. These puzzles, requiring back and forth actions between both worlds, are among the best designed in the game. The co-op is extremely strong in this latest entry in the LEGO series.
After you complete the main story, which I estimate takes between eight and ten hours, there is still plenty to do. Free play returns, and with it, the deep exploration options that LEGO games are known for. Saving up studs to buy new characters is always fun, and a questing system, as well as a blacksmithing mechanic, will keep LEGO devotees happy for many hours past the completion of the story.
The LEGO series has reached a new height in LEGO Lord of the Rings. The trademark brick bashing, humor, puzzles, and collectibles all return. The epic scale, battle between good and evil, and sense of teamwork of the Lord of the Rings saga are impressively adapted into video game form. The game is excellent, easily the best of the series. LEGO Lord of the Rings rules over all of its predecessors, and is better than many other game releases this gaming season as well.
Editor's Note: This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of the game, provided by the publisher.
The Co-Op Experience: Play as any of the fellowship in this LEGO creation of LOTR.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.