Bilbo Baggins, as many of us know, is a typical hobbit. He’s portly, laid-back, and perfectly content with never leaving Hobbiton. However, due to his recruitment by a wise wizard and a bunch of dwarves, Bilbo sets out on a quest where he encounters some awkward camera angles, many boring stages, and a final couple levels that hint at what could have been a much better game. So much for the epic journey I expected.
That grass won’t cut itself, you know
It might be wrong of me, a somewhat grown man, to find fault with The Hobbit since it’s aimed at the younger ones, much like the book was. Bilbo is a cute little creature with enormous eyes that seem straight out of a cartoon. Even the “ferocious” orcs wouldn’t seem totally out of place on a Fisher-Price play set. However, I’m much in-tune with my inner child (I still buy Disney movies), so I think I can accurately gauge The Hobbit. The results aren’t that promising.
Fortunately, for immature adults like me, the gameplay is somewhat more sophisticated, but not by much. Bilbo traverses through the stages by climbing vines, leaping gaps, climbing some more vines, and then occasionally uses stealth. There are plenty of side areas that grant extra experience and gold, and at the end of stage potions and upgrades can be purchased. When Bilbo isn’t hopping around, he’s getting in fights with lots of spiders, plants, and orcs. There’s a lock-on system somewhat similar to that in the recent Zelda games, but the poor camera angles makes it much more convenient to frantically hack and slash while wielding a big stick or the sword, Sting. The poor camera angles also pop up a few times outside of combat. While most of the leaping from platform to platform isn’t typically a problem, once in a while an awkward camera angles turns things into a blind leap of faith.
That’s a heck of a lot of firewood, guys
Most of the levels are somewhat similar. However, each stage manages to at least look distinct thanks to topnotch production values that include vibrant environments and rousing music. Despite the presentation, towards the end of the game I could hardly stand another repetitive stage of hacking, jumping, and vine climbing. Even though Bilbo travels with a large party of dwarves, he is almost always sent out to do all this stuff while the dwarves just sit around doing whatever it is that dwarven folk do. I was all set to drop a low score on this game and be done with it but then something unexpected happened. The stages improved. I dare say that they were exciting. I saw traces of what could have, and should have, been a much better game.
One of these excellent stages involves sneaking through a dragon’s lair. Unimaginable riches are piled everywhere, making the stage look like the Cave of Wonders from Aladdin. The dragon is easily wakened, so having to step lightly ratchets up the tension. This dragon stage is also one of the few levels that actually make good use of the famous ring which grants its user invisibility. To be honest, this supposedly almighty item is mostly useless when obtained halfway through the game, with the exception of a couple areas where it’s absolutely required. The haphazardly implemented invisibility is forgotten in the final stage, which turns out to be another great level. Bilbo finds himself on a battlefield with humans, elves, dwarves, and orcs fighting. As the diminutive hero fights his way through the enemies, there are plenty of explosions and shrieks of pain. If only more of The Hobbit was like this.
The Hobbit is as plain as the characters complexions
I suppose it’s not much use dwelling on these exciting stages since they are only a tiny morsel of the entire game. Almost everything else in The Hobbit else is dull, boring, and other synonyms of the like. It’s never truly bad, so I guess that’s admirable, but now that I’ve been there, I certainly won’t go back again (see if you can catch the nerdy reference in that sentence).
Five out of ten