Lego games have always kept up a fairly high standard, and as a fairly massive Lord of the Rings fan I was especially excited to get my hands on the game that would let me play through my favourite movies as adorable little Lego minifigs.
One of the greatest parts about Lego games is the ability to go back into any level after you've beaten it and play as any one of the dozens of characters you've unlocked so far. Lego Lord of the Rings takes this one step further by adding an entirely new overworld into the mix. Essentially, once you've beat the game there you will be able to walk all the way from Hobbiton to Mordor, making stops in all the major locations along the way. Each of the levels appears as a signpost which are used for replays.
The overworld is chock full of things to do - but no enemies. This includes fetch quests, puzzles, treasure and perhaps the most time consuming of them all - stuff to smash.
Don't get me wrong, this is not a bad thing but if Lego Lord of the Rings has taught me one thing about myself it's that I can't resist smashing EVERY THING. I realize now that this is a problem with history - perhaps dating back to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and its many pots to smash and tall grass to cut. I never could leave a stone unturned in that game, and the same remains true today. That's ok though, because Lego Lord of the Rings rewards my "thoroughness" by making each broken Lego bush or barrel explode into silver and gold studs, the currency of the game.
Studs may be used in purchasing new characters and the totally unnecessary but extremely fun "red bricks". These special bricks are not used for building - oh no. Each red brick contains the power to alter the very world around you! I've only collected two so far and they couldn't be more different. The first unlocks "quest finder", which tracks quest givers on your HUD with small red triangles. The second is completely useless but extraordinarily amusing - called simply "camouflage", it adds Groucho glasses to every single character during gameplay and cutscenes. Want to hear the "now for wrath, now for ruin" line coming out of a poorly disguised Lego Theoden? Now you can!
Also important to note - the entire game may be played locally with a friend in splitscreen co-op. I'm not going to say it's the only way to play it, but in my experience it's a very good time. After a long and mostly fruitless hunt for a non FPS based local co-op game this filled the ticket perfectly.