With Lord of the Rings being just about the biggest thing in the entertainment universe at the moment it is of little surprise that The Hobbit, that endearing novel which gave life to all things Middle Earth, has got some more attention. The Hobbit is official game of the tale, coming to take advantage of all that Tolkein-loving going on. We checked out the PS2 version.
On first appearance, The Hobbit is a quest, just as the book was, and in classic computer game style, you can collect tokens (Sonic style) as you go along. You start in your home in the Shire, with a visit from Gandalf. Now, I know that computer games should not be based on such standards, but when you've just made a multi-million dollar, multi-oscar winning, super-mega, best film of all time, version of Tolkein's classic Lord of the Rings, you'd think that the game developers would eke off some of that fantastic imagery and put it onto the console. No - some 'wizard' decided to make it into some garish cartoon-like abhorrence. Bilbo Baggins could be Daffy Duck and the Shire a giant pantomime horse for all its worth - the visuals are pathetic, and in my opinion, a gross misjudgement of what people want and expect.
Moving on, the gameplay itself is not too bad - too easy, but not too bad. You start the game at home, racing around Hobbiton solving puzzles for people (like the challenge of moving the butter churner from the shed to the porch!) , whilst trying to gather your wares to set off with the dwarfs on an adventure, the adventure to ultimately slay Smaug and discover the one Ring and all that.
At this point it doesn't feel like Tolkien - it is too childlike - obviously aimed at the younger market. Battling with enemies takes little thought - press a few buttons and they die. This applies generally throughout the game - nothing taxing, nothing exciting, nothing notable at all really.
It did keep us going for a while, but after a few times, the challenge of jumping across stepping stones on water or on the side of a mountain soon becomes tedious. The Hobbit was a long way off the mark and for us a huge disappointment. Our advice would be to give this game a wide berth and spend the money buying five copies of the book instead.