Since the advent of Peter Jackson's mega-budget Lord of the Rings movies, Middle-earth has become set in many people's minds as a wonderfully dark, atmospheric environment, populated by shadowy forces such as Saruman's distinctly terrifying Uruk-Hai and Orc armies. The Hobbit treads a rather lighter path for the adventures of Shireling Baggins, presenting Tolkien's world in a vibrant, colourful setting, with cute character art and perky music. But don't let all this talk of kiddy-friendly graphics discourage you from taking a look at Vivendi Universal Games' interpretation of the classic text. The Hobbit may differ in both look and feel to the licensed EA titles, but you'll still feel as though you're experiencing Tolkien's mythical world, with familiar areas from the book including Rivendell, Mirkwell and Laketown amongst the environments encompassed in the journey.
Embarking on the legendary quest armed initially with a stick and sack of stones, you'll fend off foes in a platform-action-style adventure which sees Bilbo go from timid Shireling to hobbit hero. As in the epic text, the tale begins with a group of nine dwarves recruiting the home-loving hobbit as a master thief for their mission to recover stolen ancestral gold from under the fiery snout of Smaug the dragon. The group head for the Lonely Mountain, stopping along the way to fight it out with a variety of Middle-earth's less-than-friendly inhabitants, such as giant spiders, murderous goblins and bloodthirsty trolls.
After completing a number of quests, you'll aquire additional weaponry with which to dispense the slavering hordes with greater ease. Amongst the upgrades on offer are a sword and, later in the game, the one true ring. Yup, you can get your sweaty mitts on THE Ring, and run around invisible for short bursts. Very handy for getting out of some sticky situations.... In addition to the main action, there's also an ingenious minigame that'll require Bilbo to call upon all his skills as a master burglar. Unpick locks within a set time to open the minigame up to multiplayer possibilities, then challenge friends to matches.
- Encounter familiar characters and creatures from the book, such as Gandalf, Gollum and Smaug
- Explore Tolkien's Middle-earth, venture through Mirkwood and into the Lonely Mountains
- Play the unique time-based lock-picking minigame
- Take on more than 30 different enemies, including bloodthristy goblins and trolls