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There and back again
Those diminutive heroes from Tolkien's classic tales have featured in a number of games over the years, from the charming text adventure The Hobbit to the superb RPG Lord of the Rings. This one is a pretty middling affair which aims to intrude on Mario's turf by being a 3D platformer but which doesn't quite hit the heights of that game or its source material. The story follows that of the book quite closely and sees little Frodo embarking on an epic adventure to slay the dragon Smaug, accompanied by a band of dwarves. You get to see most of the elements seen in the book, including the famous sword Sting, the one ring and a few familiar characters. Gameplay is like a cute version of Tomb Raider or Soul Reaver, as you explore various fantasy environments, solving various push-the-block puzzles and taking on bad guys. There are also side quests to complete but for the most part this is a linear adventure which sticks to the boo quite closely. The gameplay itself is pretty decent, if a little unremarkable. The controls are silky smooth and the platforming and puzzling elements are well integrated and enjoyable. There are occasional issues with the dodgy camera but these aren't too intrusive. Visuals are sound are spot on, with a great voice cast, but the story loses some depth and some of its narrative drive by being mostly told via still images, which mean the dramatic effect is lessened. These minor quibbles aside though, this is a fun, if light, romp, that doesn't disgrace the memory of the book.