(De)Constructing, Brick by Brick
It seems to me the Lego games are fast losing their luster. Most likely this is the result of me having played the same formula too many times to count. But maybe, just maybe, it also has something to do with the Lego franchise carving out its own unique niche in the genre of family gaming, then proceeding to torpedo it to hell and back with entry upon entry (each one representing movie upon movie or book upon book of source material). I guess I’m just Lego-ed out.
That “formula” I just mentioned actually was changed in one important way with the release of Lego Lord of the Rings: the once-mimed antics of the characters have been replaced with dialog lifted from the movie releases of ten or so years ago. On one hand, that certainly preserves the familiar characterizations and feel of the movies. On the other, Lego men talking with Sean Bean’s or Ian McKellan’s voices is, somehow, unpleasantly off-putting. Of course I want a chance to relive the story’s spectacle in block-breaking Lego fashion. But Lord of the Rings is hardly a comedic or even light-hearted experience, and so the two moods seem to clash in the game.
Speaking of humor: where has the Lego franchises sense of fun gone? Ever since Lego Pirates of the Caribbean, I feel like the settings have been getting darker and darker, the characters grimmer and grimmer. Even without actual dialog, Lego Pirates managed to be as dark and uncomfortable (not to mention just as confusing) as its source material. Lego LOTR exacerbates this by adding a serious spoken voice track, with not much room left for levity.
The game still works as a Lego game should: all the building of objects, breaking of the same objects, and (dangerously shallow) attempts at slapstick are all accounted for. There isn’t anything broken with the game, but as there has been a glutton of games both on the Lego front as well as other LOTR action and RPG games, this title just does very little to make itself relevant.
I don’t know if I’m hoping for this series to go back into the direction of light-hearted humor and wacky antics, or if I’m just ready for it to eat a Lego trademark-stamped plastic bullet, but either way I know I’ve reached my saturation point of where the series is currently at, and this is reflected in how I feel about going back to this game now that I’ve finished the critical path: Unless my son asks me, I won’t. And even then, he’ll have to do some heavy convincing to get me to come along.