LEGO The Hobbit follows Bilbo’s story to the end of the second movie, with DLC probably handling the last movie, but as yet is unconfirmed. The LEGO games have covered the story of Lord Of The Rings and this is a natural progression for the series. Unless you have been off planet Earth, it’s hard not to know about either of these connected stories. The stories have taken the same route to our screen as Star Wars with the first three of the series (The Hobbit), appearing after the second (Lord Of The Rings). Let me just sum up the story for you, just in case you were abducted by aliens. In The Hobbit you are Bilbo, who has been enlisted, somewhat unwillingly to accompany a small band of Dwarves lead by Thorin Oakenshield and a wizard known as Gandalf The Grey, to recapture the home under the mountain. Many years previous the Dwarves were chased from their home by a Dragon from the north, a great big scary, scaly fire breather, that wanted nothing more than to wallow in the vast gold reserves of the mountain. It was said that this Dragon was a curse brought onto the Dwarves by the gold fever their king developed, an insatiable appetite for all things valuable and shiny.

The start of the game even included a piece not seen in the movies, the actual chaos that occurred just after the Dragon attacked chasing the Dwarves out of their rightful home. From here the game follows the movies quite accurately, so if you have not seen both movies it may have some spoilers for you as you venture along the path to the mountain. LEGO games are pretty pick up and play affairs with little changing that fact throughout the complete series. TT Games do however try and keep them fresh and entertaining with every release, and LEGO The Hobbit is no exception. The first of these fresh ideas can be sampled in the fist level, as you are trying to escape the mountain, you will have to collect resources to fashion a key. After all, Dwarves are miners and blacksmiths at heart, so what could be better than making your own key at an anvil. This skill will come into play throughout the game for different circumstances. The characters in this LEGO game are again endowed with their own unique abilities, but sometimes telling them apart is a bit of a mission in itself. I know all Dwarves have beards, including the women, but for me it was hard at times to select the right character for the job without cycling through them.

As we have all come to love the LEGO games, we expect certain trade marks, such as the slap-stick humour and those little sequences that brighten up your face to a smile. LEGO The Hobbit continues in this style from the plate juggling antics at Bilbo’s house to little touches dotted about the environments. All of this adventure and Orc fighting can become terribly brain numbing as you progress through this epic quest. For instance, in some areas you will need a specific loot item to progress, finding it can be as simple as wrecking all around you until it pops out of an object to dealing with a trader, who to be honest rarely have what you are looking for, so you must frustratingly search every inch of the environments until you find it. Exploration is fun in games, but this one started to grate on me a bit, and I don’t say that lightly as I am a big fan of the family friendly fun of the LEGO games. Combat is still the same hit and hope for the best formula, with the buddy up system making it a little more interesting. Another point to note is that this is available on Xbox One, and that is what I played but by no means has it made use of the extra power, it has definitely been developed for last gen and quickly ported over.

Counting all the pieces, LEGO The Hobbit is another good LEGO game, just not a great one. There has been something about Bilbo’s adventure that has just not hit home with me. Although the environments are vast, they seemed a little empty, a missing ingredient that brings the magic of LEGO to life. Maybe we are being bombarded by these titles too often and now they are all starting to melt into one bubbling piece of plastic. There were also majorly frustrating times concerning the camera angles in certain parts of the game, to the point where I was in a cave behind a door or gate, to get through you had to buddy up and complete the sequence, it was so impossible for me to see what I actually had to do I left the quest behind. One thing that the LEGO The Hobbit game does offer in abundance, as do the other titles in the series, is the replay value. You can go for weeks replaying through all the locations and side missions with the correct characters, and these days it’s often hard to find games that give you real value for money.

In closing LEGO The Hobbit was not up to the standard of previous releases in the franchise, missing that one element to make it a great game. However, it is still a LEGO game and as such is worth playing, just don’t expect to be dazzled by itds bright lights.