Lego The Lord Of The Rings PS3 review – Fun, irreverent and charming – it’s the Tolkien of the town

One does not simply walk into Mordor – especially not barefoot, as there are spikey pieces of plastic everywhere, and everyone knows what a bastard they are to step on. Peter Jackson’s sprawling fantasy film trilogy is the latest franchise to get the Lego game treatment by Traveller’s Tales, which may well have struck mithril with one of its best adaptations yet.

Lego The Lord Of The Rings PS3 review

The story is an abridged amalgamation of all three movies, and all fan-favourite scenes have been included, as well as those essential to the plot. Not only do these sequences display much respect and love for the source material, there’s a keen eye for the details that made these moments so memorable in the first place.

A great deal of fan service is also paid in knowing nods and good-natured digs, and this feeling of familiarity is furthered by the use of the actual dialogue from the films. Although it’s a little jarring at first, this juxtaposition between the original audio and the slapstick action of the Lego animations makes cut-scenes play like the ultimate movie quote-along.

The frequently grim scripting of the films is given a family-friendly spin throughout, yet thanks to surprisingly expressive characters, the stalwart silliness is punctuated by moments of heartache, dread and genuine warmth.

A huge cast of playable characters, inventive set pieces and beguiling locations ensure there’s variety within the main story quests. A trail of translucent blue studs always leads you to the next major objective, but hints of hidden treasures to tempt you off the prescribed path abound.

Miniature Middle-earth is condensed, but still retains a sense of epic scale, as well as all of its key geographic features – enabling you to visit Bag End, The Black Gate and everywhere in-between. In this open world, exploration is not only encouraged and heartily rewarded, but extends the game’s lifespan far beyond the confines of the film’s narrative.

Stud collecting, puzzle solving, item crafting, side-questing and scenery smashing are just some of the distractions available to occupy your time, and many secrets are only accessible once story missions have been completed. The road goes ever on, and it seems like an overwhelming undertaking at first, but while 100% completion will take time, it’s easily achievable and as satisfying as a mouthful of lembas.

Unfortunately, the journey through Middle-earth is marred by some technical shortcomings. Erratic camera movements can limit visibility, especially during combat, and AI characters often get permanently stuck on scenery or decide to jump to their death repeatedly. It’s definitely a game best played with your own co-op fellowship, as some stages – such as the battle at Osgiliath or the Ent attack on Isengard – are repetitive and laborious when attempted alone.

The controls can be problematic, too: several actions are mapped to one button depending on the context, and the slightest mis-step during a crucial moment could have you fiddling around for items unnecessarily or, as enemies bear down on you, even cost adventurers some hard-earned studs.

Ultimately these issues – although irritating – are Hobbit-sized in the grand scheme of things. Lego The Lord Of The Rings is a surprisingly faithful adaptation of an unforgettable fantasy journey: you’re likely to fall in love in the time it takes to get there and back again.

Our Score

Score: 8