The Hobbit: The Prelude to The Lord of The Rings

HobbitTitleNo, this isn’t a tie-in with the recently concluded film trilogy. In fact, its release dates back eleven years. It’s a PS2/Gamecube/Xbox game that adapts The Hobbit long before Peter Jackson was ready to try it. With The Lord of The Rings getting its theatrical adaptations, Inevitable Entertainment decided it would use Frodo’s uncle.

Did Inevitable succeed? Not really. It’s got serious problems, but I did have some fun. Just not as much fun as in EA’s LOTR games.

Plot: 8 out of 10

Pretty true to the book, other than the introductory stage that has Bilbo collecting supplies in Hobitton that his group will need on their adventure. Beyond that, the story is both accurate and good. My favorite part is the one with the trolls. This stealth challenge is quite scary. They sniff about (for effect) if they almost discover you. And if are found, there’s a cutscene of the troll who spotted you picking up Bilbo and saying something like, “You’re goin’ on the spit!”

Hobbit1

Sure, trolls gotta eat too, but with that “boob,” I think you’ve had enough!

Graphics: 4 out of 10

The landscape is fine, but the models are very blocky. Hair, for instance, looks like one solid object. We could’ve had better than this.

Hobbit2

I can’t think of a joke that makes see-through Bilbo look any worse than he does already. Any takers?

Sound: 8 out of 10

Voice cast is mostly solid. Great music captures the feel of the story. So even though the character models suck, you can still work to the beat of nice tunes.

Gameplay: 7 out of 10

This game is a platformer with some stealth and first-person shooter elements thrown in. I think it may have been better if the game had been mainly stealth, as that was Bilbo’s thing throughout the book. I admit, that’s not very heroic, but when you think about it, Bilbo himself wasn’t nearly as heroic as Frodo. He relied on a ring of invisibility that he stumbled upon by dumb luck to accomplish his tasks. How much more would you have the guts to do if you could turn invisible? Exactly.

Tangent over. Bilbo handles reasonably well. There’s a lot of jumping here, both to get to higher levels, and across gaps in the ground. Bilbo fights with a walking stick and upon getting it, a dagger (a sword to a furry-footed midget). From time to time you have to use stealth, such as the troll scene I mentioned earlier. This is a little too simple because it’s about holding down a button, as opposed to knowing to just lightly nudge the analog stick, but is otherwise quite good. The camera responds better in this game than in many 3D platformers, but errors are bound to occur.

I didn't know the Ring allowed hobbits to float.

With the power of programming mistakes, Bilbo can float!

Finally, Bilbo can also throw a limited supply of rocks from a third person perspective. Like a lot of games that use this only as a secondary function, The Hobbit f*cks it up. It’s difficult to get the cursor on the target, so it is effective only against enemies that either can’t move to you or are far away. This is the game’s biggest problem by far, gameplay-wise.

Challenge: 6 out of 10

Kind of inconsistent. The platforming parts tend to be easy but fun, while the stealth parts are fairly challenging. I really don’t know if this game was meant to be hard or easy.

Hobbit4

What kind of fantasy game would this be if it didn’t let you kill orcs/goblins/tackling dummies/whatevers?

Overall: 6 out of 10

It’s acceptable for one play through it, I guess. I wouldn’t have paid $49.99 for it back in the day. Get it if you can find it today for less than $20. But don’t compare it to the recent Middle-Earth Shadow of Mordor, which actually is worth the full price.

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