One LEGO game to rule them all.
With LEGO games, you either love them or hate them—there's rarely a middle ground. So if you fall into the "hate them" camp, you might as well stop reading and move on. There is nothing in LEGO The Lord of the Rings that will sway you to the "love them" side. If you are already on the "love them" side, then prepare for a real treat and go on ahead and submit your pre-order. You won't be sorry.
When I first heard the rumor of this game, I nearly squealed out loud. I've been dying for a LEGO LOTR ever since Traveller's Tales tackled the Harry Potter movies. Apparently, I wasn't the only one. The people behind TT games are huge LOTR fans, and they have been wanting to do a LOTR LEGO game ever since their first LEGO Star Wars game. They hadn't done it before because they wanted to make sure that they did it right, for both themselves as fans and for other fans of the trilogy. From what I saw and played at SDCC, it looks like they have.
LEGO LOTR is not based solely on the movies; the developers love the books as much as they love the movies, and as such they wanted to include portions of the books that were not included in the movie (I sincerely hope there is no Tom Bombadil). Sadly, we'll have to wait for the game's release to see what has been added, as none of it was revealed at this demo.
LOTR has all the charm of the other LEGO games, in terms of its complete silliness and hilarious throwbacks to little aspects of the movies. For example, when the party comes upon a wall or piece of a floor that has a large crack in it, that means that it can only be broken open by tossing Gimli at it. As fans of the LOTR movies know, no one tosses a dwarf. Too bad for Gimli that it's open season here. It isn't just Aragorn who tosses Gimli through walls; I used Legolas for the same effect just because I know—deep down inside—that it infuriates Gimli even more to have an elf throw him.
Like LEGO Batman 2, LEGO LOTR will have voice-acting over the traditional LEGO grunts and gestures to convey dialogue. TT Games secured permission from Peter Jackson to include actual voice clips from the movies to use for dialogue.
Many of the puzzles focus on teamwork, which is nothing knew in the LEGO-verse, but it seemed more prevalent than usual in the 30-minute demo. The devs seem to want to encourage players to play with friends, especially with family members since the games are so kid-friendly. They even incorporated the same split-screen mechanic from LEGO Batman 2, which lets co-op players explore whichever portion of the scene they want all without forcing the other player to come join them due to screen-size restrictions.
Of course, the fact that all nine members of the Fellowship are on-screen at once is as chaotic as it is awesome. I got lost who was whom more than once, especially when the orcs came flooding in and I was trying to solve a lovely boss fight puzzle. In other words, I loved every second of it.
There is no set release date for LEGO LOTR, but the time frame is this Fall, around the time when The Hobbit hits the theaters. The Hobbit will not be present in LEGO LOTR, but be rest assured that the game does include all three books/movies. There will be no piecemeal releases for this one.