\'This is the tale of Bilbo Baggins, a Hobbit who has no idea what\'s in store for him.\'

These are the words that begin this adaption of J.R.R. Tolkien\'s classic book The Hobbit. If you\'ve ever read it, then you know exactly what the narrator means. Bilbo, a respectable Hobbit from the Shire ends up being whisked off into a quest to help twelve dwarves recover their gold stolen by Smaug, the evil dragon. A wizard named Gandalf decides to come along and aid their quest too. Their journey takes them to the ends of Middle Earth into unfriendly territory. The companions are captured by trolls, spiders, goblins, and wood elves. In addition, Bilbo finds the Ring of Power that is the basis for J.R.R. Tolkien\'s famous series The Lord of the Rings.

Is it like the Lord of the Rings games?

If you are expecting this game to be like the Lord of the Rings games, be forewarned that it isn\'t similar it at all. The Lord of the Rings games are somewhat like RPGs. Sierra, the creators of The Hobbit decided to make it more like a 3-D Mario game. There is a lot of jumping from platform to platform instead of fighting huge waves. This makes it a lot more appealing to younger players, although older ones and diehard Lord of the Rings fans might be annoyed by the simplicity.

How are the graphics, sound, and music. of the game?

The graphics are fairly detailed and look like what you would expect to see on 3-D consoles. It doesn\'t get any prizes for the best graphics of the year, but they are acceptable. In some areas, like where mist is rising from a waterfall or green goo is slowly oozing down a mountain (yeah, gross isn\'t it?), the graphics do look incredible. However, these beautiful areas may cause trouble for slower machines. This can be fixed by lowering the graphics detail, which makes parts of the game look pixelated, but at least makes playing the game bearable. The sound is great. Little touches like the thunder of a storm or the sound of leaves being stepped on adds realism to the game. And the music has some of the best scores I\'ve heard in a game in a long time. All the scores have lots of detail and really add to the mood. Some bring up your adrenaline when fighting, others add to the suspense of sneaking around.

What is the game play like?

As I mentioned above, the game is like a standard platform game, you jump from ledge to ledge, climb ropes and ladders, and so on. Combat is very simple, you choose one of three weapons (walking stick, rocks, or Sting, an elvish sword you get later in the game) and simply press a button to attack. There are many puzzles in the game, from picking locks on chests to gathering parts so you can put a machine back together. The game is separated into levels. Each one is rather long, and the game can be saved at save pedestals along the way. To complete the level, you must complete all the required quests, but you can also complete optional quests for extra courage points. Courage points, when gained enough of, will permanently increase your health by one container. You can also gather coins to buy items from the merchant at the end of the levels. There are some levels that are really tough and take a lot of retrying to get through. Thankfully, most of them are straightforward and can usually be completed with only a couple of tries. The real star of the show is the AI combat system, which is unlike anything I\'ve ever seen before. Some animals, like wolves, attack in packs at once and then retreat. Others, like man eating plants, attack and duck underground and attack you from somewhere else. My favorite is the goblins. They come in attacking with all their might, but when you start to attack back, they use their swords to block your swings.

Is the game faithful to the book?

To answer it plainly, the game isn\'t too much like the book. There are a lot of quests that have nothing to do with the book (find a plant that will heal Kili\'s cold is one example). Areas such as the troll\'s storage cave and the Goblin mines are much, much bigger and expansive than they ever would be in the book. In some ways, this is good because it makes for interesting gameplay. To diehard Tolkien fans, this is a huge detriment.

Is the game appropriate for Christians?

When enemies are killed they merely disappear in a flash of light, Bilbo just falls on the ground when he dies, and the magic in the game is quite minimal. The Ring of Power makes you invisible, magic potions heal you, some enemies conjure up blasts of light to attack you, but that\'s about it.

Should I get this game?

If you are a diehard Lord of the Rings fan, you might be disappointed by how The Hobbit is so simplistic compared to the Lord of the Rings games and different from the book. If jumping from platform to platform like in Mario doesn\'t appeal to you, this game probably isn\'t for you either. However, if you don\'t fall under either of these categories especially if you are looking for a game appropriate for younger gamers, The Hobbit is an excellent game that is worth looking into.

Final Ratings

Game play 95% Sound/Music 100% Graphics 80% Interface 95% Christian Rating 85%

Overall 87%

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