The Hobbit
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The Hobbit
Hunter: The Reckoning
Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy
Publisher: Sierra
Year released: 2003





I played the GameCube version, but it is also available on PC, PS2, XBOX.

The Hobbit is a pretty good action adventure with appealing graphics and a lot of nice features. The game progresses through Tolkien’s story, with each level representing a location from the book.

What to expect:

bulletAlthough the gameplay consists mostly of combat, platform jumping, and rope climbing, there is a fair amount of stealth and even real puzzle solving as well.
bulletWhile there’s only one crucial timed sequence in the game, there are lots of little optional ones that can reap all sorts of goodies: Lockpicking is actually a minigame where you must trigger one or more moving mechanisms on a locked chest before the time runs out. While some chests won’t fault you for failing, most chests will injure or poison you if you’re too slow or make a wrong move.
bulletThrough the course of the game you will obtain different weapons, starting out with the relatively weak but far-reaching walking stick. Other weapons include the shorter, but more powerful sword Sting, and throwing rocks of various kinds.
bulletYou need every skill you acquire in the game. Different levels focus on different abilities (sneaking, jumping, fighting).
bulletEnemies and quests become steadily more difficult throughout the game.
bulletThe game is just long enough to be satisfying and make you feel you’ve gotten your money’s worth, but not so long that you get bored with it.
bulletAt the end of each level you’re presented with a screen that shows how many gems, coins, and chests you discovered as well as the total number available in that level.

What’s good:

bulletThe graphics are colorful and intriguing. A decidedly different look from the live action LOTR films and the older animated ones.
bulletLevel design is generally good; each new location has a unique atmosphere and presents new challenges.
bulletPurple “journey gems” that guide you to important locations. These gems often appear when you reach new phases in the main quest, and are indispensable at times- especially during the final sequence, which is timed.
bulletThere are goodies scattered all throughout the game, some out in the open, many hidden or locked in chests. What’s great here is that you only have to walk in the general proximity of these items and they magically come to you. (Likewise when you dispatch enemies and they drop loot- even if they’re across a chasm!) This is much nicer than games where you must make physical contact with all loot in order to retrieve it.
bulletAll dialog is spoken, and the voices are pretty good.
bulletThere’s a very nice quest log that clearly identifies optional and required quests, and checks tasks off as you complete them.
bulletAfter completing each level you get to visit a store where you can use coins you collected to buy potions, rocks and upgrades that allow you to carry more items.
bulletLike most console games, you can’t save wherever/whenever you want; you can only save at various “save pedestals” scattered around Middle Earth. What’s nice is there are plenty of pedestals to be found, and they’re almost always located right before particularly dangerous areas.
bulletWhen Bilbo does something that affects another area (for example, flipping a switch that opens a door in another room), the game always quickly cuts to the other location to let you see what just happened. This feedback is helpful and important.
bulletSome replay value, in that you may feel compelled to go through the game again just to find all the goodies you missed the first time.
bulletThere's a lot of rope and vine climbing in the game, but Bilbo makes it easier for you by reaching out toward nearby vines... when he reaches out you can rest assured that he'll make the jump. (Note that Bilbo will occasionally reach out toward vines that are way too far away, so make sure you can see the vine he's aiming for before taking the leap.)

What’s bad:

bulletI encountered a clipping issue where Bilbo became permanently stuck on a mushroom. I loaded a saved game and avoided that mushroom after that.
bulletWhile camera control is usually pretty good, there are numerous tight spots where you simply can’t get the camera at a good angle, or worse- when the camera keeps moving when you’re trying to do something.
bulletGolem appears in the game- but only in a cutscene. I had really been looking forward to interacting with golem, so I was disappointed. It’s weird- seems like this would have been a good opportunity for a stealth sequence.

My rating (from Very Bad to Very Good): Very Good

You will probably like this game if you liked these: American McGee’s Alice, Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time