Even if you're tired of the Lego video games (I'm not), you've got to admit this looks cool. Or cute. Or... come on. Lego: The Lord of the Rings? There are those among us who would eat this stuff up, yes?
We've got a teaser for the new Lego Lord of the Rings game here, and a few details.
The game is from Lego video game creators Traveller's Tales who are putting out a new Lego Batman this month and something called Lego City Stories for the Wii U (their first Lego console exclusive) some time down the road. Lego: LOTR is their next multi-platform game, coming out for Xbox 360, PS3 and the rest some time in the future (safe guess: tying in with the release of The Hobbit movie, but we'll see).
It's like the other Lego games in that you'll be traveling through a bunch of levels, controlling heroes from the source fiction, just the good guys in the storyline portions of this game. It covers the the three main books, adapting the Peter Jackson movie versions and using voice-acting from those movies. Like the other games in the series, it'll play in two-player drop-in/drop-out co-op and will let you re-play levels as just about any character in the game, including the bad guys.
So, how is it different from the other Lego games?
It's more of an adventure, more of a grand quest (with sidequests!), TT Games chief Jonathan Smith told me recently, after showing off a Mines of Moria cave troll battle. "In contrast to our other games, covering those three movies is an epic journey," he said. "It really is a sense of an adventure rather than a series of stories. You build up your characters as you venture through the world of Middle-Earth.
"Our hub will be the world of Middle-Earth. As you see that unfold, as you journey through it toward your ultimate destination on this epic quest, that gives it a sense that is completely different to the open world of Gotham of Lego Batman 2. You're really driving forward on a quest.
"Practically, in terms of the levels there's a mix between fighting and puzzling as you'd expect. We have some very big battles. We have some cool enemies. And then, for puzzling, if you're a connoisseur of the series perhaps you'll remember something more like Indiana Jones where we're picking up and dropping items and there's some inventory-based play as well and customization of characters as they go through the adventure." Are we talking stat-based RPG? "No stats.. there will be quests on the hub, side-quests."
The Mines of Moria sequence Smith showed was basically a puzzle-based battle. He swapped control from Gandalf to Boromir to Frodo to Pippin to all the other characters from the scene as they tried to fell a cave troll. Sam could set fires; Gimli could be tossed through walls. A weak spot on the troll had to be exploited and, to be honest, while it looked faithful to the movie, it also looked more tedious than the more fleet action of Lego Batman 2 and other recent games in the series. Level design in the series has been rapidly improving (Lego Star Wars III was, as regular readers of Kotaku know, a personal favorite of mine), so there's hope this first showing was just a slight mis-step. Smith himself had referred to it more as a test area than a level.
The creators risk being so faithful to the movies that they don't nail the fun of a game, but here's a little more from Smith, saying the right things: "As we've done in the past where we've got wonderful movies to draw on, we will suck all the drama that we can out of them, so that means making sure that all the work that went into making those movies brilliant we replicate with the right sound, with the right shots, with the right editing, and the right pace, but then we condense and compress and to some extent caricature."
There have been tons of Lord of the Rings video games but arguably still not a great one. On visuals alone, this one has a chance to at least be the most charming. Hopefully it'll also prove to be one of the more fun.
Oh, and for the record, Smith already made the obvious pun for you. During the demo, he stressed a certain two syllables while referring to a certain fan-favorite archer. I chuckled.