"The Hobbit is the best LEGO game to date and some of the most fun I’ve had with my PS4 since the system’s launch."
Since the 2005 Lego Star Wars: The Video Game on PC, I’ve been completely enamored by Traveller’s Tales’ digitization of my favorite childhood toys. Even all these years later, I feel a childlike excitement with every new release. Being able to venture through vast, virtual LEGO worlds has been consistently exciting despite little changes to the gameplay formula. On the other hand, presentation has evolved tremendously within the past few entries. The introduction of voice acting has given our plastic heroes a greater sense of personality and the environmental sandbox approach has made each LEGO world considerably more immersive. With Traveller’s Tales’ latest LEGO The Hobbit, the developers have outdone themselves once again. From improved visuals and refined gameplay mechanics to better level designs and wittier writing, The Hobbit is the best LEGO game to date and some of the most fun I’ve had with my PS4 since the system’s launch.
LEGO The Hobbit loosely follows the first two films in the trilogy. I’ve yet to see Peter Jackson’s big screen adaptation, but being able experience Tolkien’s finest work within a satirical LEGO landscape is all I need for the time being. Without delving into the familiar narrative too much, LEGO The Hobbit is best described as a Monty Python-esque retelling of Tolkien’s novel. The storyline follows the novel’s events fairly closely, but it’s been modified to fit within the game’s chapters. As a result, certain storyline bits feel choppy if you’re unfamiliar with the source material, but from a video game perspective it enhances LEGO’s action-oriented pacing.
"The lighting and textures are eye-popping and each level is crammed with movie inspired set pieces and breakable LEGO bricks."
From a technical standpoint, LEGO The Hobbit may not be a graphical behemoth like the recent Infamous: Second Son, but for a LEGO game it’s pretty damn close. The lighting and textures are eye-popping and each level is crammed with movie inspired set pieces and breakable LEGO bricks. A consistently smooth framerate ensures fluid action no matter how many chunks scatter across the screen, although the stubborn camera issues still haven’t been addressed. Impressively directed cinematics tie chapters masterfully and the signature LEGO humor provides constant laughs from the very first opening scene to the end.
While the majority of LEGO The Hobbit played without any freezes or crashes, I did experience a few button–prompt issues. Certain key chests couldn’t be opened because the necessary icon wasn’t showing up and I was forced to restart an entire level on two occasions. While this isn’t a serious game-breaking bug, it’s annoying if it happens after 30 minutes of collecting every single treasure within a level. It’s also somewhat disappointing that the save function hasn’t improved from previous entries. Checkpoints are still few and far between and while there are various statue save-points, it takes too long to reach them.
"The Hobbit is worth every penny and Tolkien fans will cherish the care and detail Traveller’s Tales put into their work."
The gameplay has been refined to feel smoother and more responsive but still remains conceptually unchanged. For anyone with OCD-like tendencies, the obsessive coin collecting can be traumatizing – and I mean this in the best way possible. Reaching that perfect score at the end of every level is what LEGO games have always been about and The Hobbit is no different. The semi-open world levels have an absurd amount of collectibles and each chapter is filled with plethora of side quests and hidden secrets. Puzzles still play a major role in LEGO The Hobbit and while they’re by no means brainteasers, it’s still fun trying to figure out what abilities are needed for overcoming obstacles. Mining and forging items also plays a big part in LEGO The Hobbit. In order to get past certain checkpoints, it’s necessary to craft keys, cranes and a bunch of other similar devices. Of course, in order to keep your inventory craft-ready you have to hunt down every breakable object in your path.
LEGO The Hobbit is an impressive evolution of a very long running franchise. While I still hope to see more gameplay variety from future offerings, the sheer scope and undeniable LEGO charm is what continues to keep me glued to the screen. If you’ve enjoyed previous LEGO entries, I’m happy to say that this is the most epic title to date. In terms of sheer value, The Hobbit is worth every penny and Tolkien fans will cherish the care and detail Traveller’s Tales put into their work. Yes, the LEGO series may be geared towards a very young audience, but I have no shame in admitting that I still enjoy each release as much as the big-boy AAA titles.
Review by: Tin Salamunic | Reviewed on: Playstation 4