The Hobbit Review

Developer: Inevitable Studios Publisher: Sierra
Release Date: November 11, 2003 Also On: GCN, PC, PS2 and Xbox

Enter the land of middle earth and take upon the quest to the Lonely Mountains. You will adventure as Bilbo Baggins, an unlikely hero who didn’t exactly want to go on this quest in the first place. The story starts out with Bilbo relaxing in his comfortable little hobbit house/hole when he hears a knock at the door. He of course goes to answer the door, and what a surprise it was, the wizard Gandalf. The wizard tells Bilbo about this group of dwarves who are trying to retake their mountain from a dragon. If you know hobbits, they are creatures that like things peaceful, so he declines and shuts the door, but not before realizing he has invited the wizard for tea the next day. The next day, the wizard shows up with a large group of dwarves. He comes in and he explains their situation more and Gandalf tries to convince the little hobbit to join them. Well, during this whole experience he falls and blacks out temporarily and has a dream. After that, he decides to join them.

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After the beginning of the story, there of course is much more to build upon, though I am not going to get into that (the beginning story is long enough), because it would spoil the story for you. A little background would not hurt though. The dwarves seek to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from Smaug, the dragon who stole the mountain and it’s riches from their ancestors. The reason that they need Bilbo, is because they need a burglar. Why exactly Gandalf tells the dwarves that Bilbo is a good burglar, I have no idea, but obviously he thinks that he would be useful (maybe it is his size?).

The game really starts in the dream that Bilbo has when he blacks out. During the dream you are equipped with all of your weapons and all of their techniques mastered, when you get there, Bilbo notices that there is a battle going on between Goblins, men, and elves, so of course you go in to help fight. This really is just to familiarize you with the controls, since you can not take damage.

After you have done that, you have to go through an extremely boring first level. This again is pretty much to familiarize you with different aspects of the game. During this level you pretty much go around helping the villagers finding their lost items. Once you have done this, you get off to your real adventure.

Bilbo has three weapons he can attack with, his walking stick, sword sting, and throwing rocks. In the beginning, you have just two attacks with your walking stick and the same goes with your sword once you acquire it. That sounds a little disappointing, I know, but don’t worry, because as you go through the game you can find scrolls that upgrade your techniques. You really don’t learn many new moves, other than the spin technique for both sting and the walking stick. The scrolls are still helpful; because they make the techniques that you already have and make them stronger. For instance, when you get a scroll to upgrade the jump attack with the walking stick, it adds to the area of affect range of the attack. However, you can only upgrade each technique a few times, so the game seems to lack in that category.

The cartoonish look puts Middle Earth in a new perspective. The Hobbit features great graphics, from the stunning colors of the shire, to the dark and barely lit corridors of the goblin mines of the misty mountains; this game is bringing out a great performance. The characters and enemies are rendered with the same great quality. The only problem I ran into were the dying sequences from water. I often found that when falling in running water, when dying, I would go through the floating platforms that were in the way or get caught up on something and then die. This really didn’t cause much of a problem, since I was dying, but was glitchy none the less.

The Hobbit is a third-person action-adventure. It is rather similar to the Zelda series, and it is not anything like any of the other Lord of the Rings games, besides other differences, this game has a leveling up system. Bilbo levels up and gains more health by collecting courage points. You find courage points scattered throughout every level and you obtain them by finding them out in the open, defeating enemies, or by completing quests. There are of course other things you need to be on the look-out for, such as silver pennies, chests, and quest items. At the end of each level, you will have a chance to buy things at a vendor and silver pennies are what you use for currency. There are several things you can buy at the vendor. You can have your rock bag refilled, buy different potions, buy skeleton keys, buy a potion that adds a health bubble to your health, or upgrades for either how many rocks or how many potions you can hold. Needless to say, searching around in every area is important.

One thing that is really unique about this game is the lock picking system. Though not very complex the lock picking system is something I have never seen before. While on your journeys you will come across chests and most chests will be locked. The only way for you to open them is to unlock it with a skeleton key, (which is used up every time you open a chest) or just picking the lock. The lock picking is simple; there are various mechanisms that you will have to crack, all of which require you to get a pointer or whatever over a green space. You have to do this in a certain time and it varies with each chest. Some can have maybe two locks to break but you have very little time to crack them, others have lots of locks, but give you a reasonable amount of time. The only downside to picking locks is that often chests are booby trapped, so if you fail, you are either damaged or poisoned. Lock picking is a talent that you definitely should develop, seeing how skeleton keys are rare to find and somewhat expensive to buy.

The Hobbit has a lot of different things you have to do for missions; some of the most challenging are the stealth missions. These missions will require you to stay out of sight and to keep the noise level to a minimum. The only way to achieve these goals is to keep cover behind objects, use your tiptoe to walk softly, to keep from making noise or by using your ring. The ring allows you to become completely invisible from most things, but you are unable to attack. Most normal enemies will be able to see you, which makes sense, otherwise you could run through the level and not have to fight much of anything. The ring has an energy bar that slowly depletes while you are wearing it, so it forces you to stop and find cover to let your ring recharge before you can use it again. Since you don’t obtain the ring until later in the game, you have to learn other basic stealth techniques, besides the fact that even though you are invisible, you still make noise.

The Hobbit is an expansive game that will have you spending hours upon hours traveling the lands of Middle Earth. Whether you are interested battling hordes of goblins, freeing people from elf prisons, or sneaking past dragons, The Hobbit has you covered.

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 10
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 9
Replay Value/Game Length: 6.5
Final: 8.6
Written by Andrew Review Guide

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