LEGO The Lord Of The Rings is an excellent game on PlayStation 3 and comes complete with signature block-smashing gameplay across an open-world that features eye-catching settings inspired by J.R. Tolkien’s fantasy universe. So why then, in comparison to this handsome, engaging spin on one of the world's biggest franchises, is the PlayStation Vita equivalent such a huge disappointment?
Vita has the power to deliver stunning visuals - you only need to look at Uncharted: Golden Abyss to prove that notion - but LEGO The Lord Of The Rings on Sony’s handheld looks awful in comparison to its PS3 counterpart and has had its console heart ripped out of it, much in the same way that LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, another LEGO title that failed spectacularly to take advantage of Vita’s power, did.
The whole game world has been shrunk significantly for Vita, which means that exploration, one of the fun things that you can do in the PS3 version, is non-existent. Furthermore, it’s ugly in comparison and gameplay is affected by a wandering camera that makes platforming frustrating and boss battles a chore rather than a pleasure. The LEGO games on console have lots of replay value, but this watered-down version offers far less and we'd be surprised if many will even have the patience to complete a first run-through.
Bored Of The Rings - Vita version doesn't compare
Some developers clearly aren't taking Vita seriously. Vita has the power to host polished games that look great on the OLED screen, take advantage of the CPU and make the most of the variety of control options, but it feels like some developers aren’t ready to make that investment in time and money to create better spin-offs and ports of their console brethren. It’s not just the LEGO folk we’re talking about either; take a look at the mess that is Black Ops: Declassified. Perhaps it's just too early in the handheld's life-cycle for some developers to make that commitment to quality and cash and maybe they're waiting for higher Vita adoption rates before taking it more seriously?
Though we're slightly pissed that LEGO The Lord Of The Rings on Vita doesn't live up to the console version, Sony must be livid that this huge franchise has let them down. Back in September, Sony's marketing VP John Koller said that it was encouraging developers to avoid repeating mistakes made with PSP which suffered with many bad ports of console games.
"It became very difficult for us to define what made PSP unique. The content development became a bit unstructured or decentralized, in that we got a lot of content that was on PlayStation 2 and got thrown over to the handheld," said Koller in an interview with Gamasutra. We do hope these mistakes aren't repeated.
Hopefully, these instances will be few and far between if history isn’t going to repeat itself again. However, it seems that Vita needs to start selling incredibly well if more developers are going to spend time making better spin-offs and ports of their console money-spinning franchises. PS Vita is a great gaming device and there are some brilliant titles available, but it needs more consistency and quality across the board from the world's major developers. Without that, it's going to be as popular in 2013 as the PSP was in its final years.