"Do you recommend this game" Hard to say. (TL;DR down the bottom)
(You'll notice that I haven't completed the game on my account. I have, however, on the PS version at a friend's house.)
TT's engine isn't great. It's not bug-free: I've had to restart the level due to glitches such as characters not being usable when they shouldn't, jumping through walls, and the Special Ablities being glitchy.
The openable caves - which is a fairly good idea - aren't great. They're often really hard. Not hard as in challenging: hard as in boring. I'll take a cave near the Misty Mountains, where you have to jump on spiky platforms which spikes pop up periodically.
The problem with this is that failing takes FAR TOO LONG: you have to go AROUND, then up, then back on the platform... *yawn* It'd be easier if they just killed you at the bottom.
Then there's a set of three spiky platforms in a row. There's no way you can get past this that I've found. Running spends to long, jumping is useless, and as far as I know no character has a speed boost. (Feel free to correct me on this)
Now, I'll go to the bosses. They're far, far better than Lego LoTR (in which EVERY boss has EXACTLY the same attacks), but they're not that great. There's often a key combination which you have to press. The problem is that you have to know the combination: the time it gives you isn't enough. So you have a pain in the rear and no mistake.
Co-op for these battles is horrible. There is literally NOTHING for the other character to do. Even when you have the sharpest sword of Middle Earth and you're against Azog, who has no armour, you can't hit him. No, the other character is raging at the time that they DON'T give for you to attack him.
This being said, a boss should not be beatable on the first try. One should have to THINK about it.
The problem is that this is taken the wrong way. They're only hittable at certain times: which I can understand, but the other times are simply just a pain.
The cutscenes are pretty good: if you don't like light humour then don't get this game.
Though, there's no clear way to skip them. Yes, it will come up with 'U' (Skip), but there's no way to control when it will do this. It is a slight nuisance that the Battle of the Five Armies is nonexistent and Erebore is marked by a Loot Dispenser - oh yes. That's the other thing I want to talk about.
Maybe my computer's something I dredged up from the seabed, but I meet the Reccommended Requirements, and even on lowst graphics settings the game still lags. There needs to be a setting: "Special Effects: Off/Low/High" That would save a lot of things.
So, about this loot. Given the lag, it's IMPOSSIBLE to mine anything as Bofur. I press the key immediately: right in the middle: and it keeps on going. I've had it mine perfectly thanks to the fact that it BOUNCED OFF THE END AND WENT BACK AGAIN.
Yes, my computer meets the Reccommended Requirements. The Reccommended ones.
Back to Loot again: Is there are USE for 1,000 rocks?
Or 10,000 wood?
At least you could sell it at the Dispenser.
Things are also completely unbalanced: Iron is often needed... but it's rarer than diamonds AND emerals, which are never needed except for getting that last Mithril Brick.
Loot is frankly pointless, and a waste of time. Just make things drop studs and ask the player to input 1,000 studs to unlock something or other... I'm not a dev.
I can't stress how linear it is. You have 0 freedom.
I'll take as much of Riddles in the Dark as we were able to complete before it spazzes out (check my screenshots :P).
You have to knock down a skeleton to get a head to throw at something.
Hey... I have *checks* 100 rocks.
WHY CAN'T I JUST USE ONE OF THEM
Ok, so I'd need Dori to pull this down to get a Minikit... I have 50 rope. Can't I just use that?
You have a set number of things to do. No freedom. Do this, do this, and do that. Now, I'm not saying that TT should have coded that you could take out the trolls by pushing trees onto them and then attacking them in the face. I'm merely saying that there should be different options. You shouldn't have to go through the level with the game dictating what you can and cannot do.
Onto the Dwarves' ablities.
I have to say, TT did very well to give nearly all of them something useful.
Except for Thorin. He has nothing that he can do that somebody else cannot. Surely he, as the leader, should have the special stuff?
Onto actual gameplay: It's not great.
All the special stuff can only be used when the game tells you to. "Buddying up" is a complete waste of time and of patience if it isn't needed to complete the level. Pole Stacks are rather hard to control: you'd think that you'd jump off the pole, but no, you just climb up. Bombur's spring ability never comes out well. It's never used and when it IS, you're groaning that you're Player 2 and thus all the Dwarves are following Player 1, who is far, far away.
Ori's slingshot is similar. It's uselss for attacking (which I'll get to shortly) and is only used when it's needed. At least Dori's morningstar is effective in combat.
The attacking engine is horrible. By spamming out whatever key it is to attack, you won't get hurt unless it's a boss attack... and even then, that's unlikely. Anything ranged is USELESS. It's so much easier to walk up to the enemy and spam attacks rather than fuddle around with aiming something. Yes, it has an autotarget... but the autotarget seems to like aiming at the farthest away thing possible and not at the thing that is right in front of you hacking you down.
Speaking of attacking, the Necromancer boss.
This is the buggiest thing in the game.
You are a wizard (is far less exciting than it sounds: just like ranged units, but with the disatvantage of not being able to multi-fire and having a useless shield that protects against one attack in the GAME), and you have to shield yourself against the Necromancer's brick blasts. Easy, hey?
Except there's one orc that pops out and attacks you. No problem, right? It's just one. It's hardly an army.
Except that you as the player can scarcely attack him. The default is to put the shield up. It's nigh on impossible to actually attack the orc. By the time you have, the Necromancer's launched another brick blast, and the orc is still hacking away at you.
Very, very, VERY fortunately, there's an area behind the tree on the left. The orc will never attack this space.
Onto the camera.
How can I put it nicely... It's like a wild horse on steroids. Very hard to control and rather unpredictable.
Oh, it works most of the time. Oh yes.
But the places where it doesn't work are often the places you need it the most. While exploring Middle-Earth you will be able to rotate it. You don't often need to, but it's helpful. However, this gets it to zoom in and out as it tries to get you a view of your character that isn't obscured by rock.
Levels... levels, now, are a different matter. The camera doesn't rotate.
Meaning that it can be impossible to get a good view of what's happening. What I'd give for a nice top view where I can see where all those pesky platforms are... Why can't you just make it rotate? What is the PURPOSE of the pan?
Several people have bugged about the mouse controls. I'm not fussed about these. So what about the mouse? Do you not know how to use up/down and Enter on a keyboard on a main menu?
And... it even says it down the bottom! Oh yes! 'Up/Down' and 'Enter' (Select)!
TL;DR and finishing thoughts:
I've seen that the main reason people are reccomending this is basically because it's The Hobbit. This isn't a bad move: far from it. It's just that to me, the bugs and the pain over the engine make it unworthwhile.
If you're a Hobbit fan then you'll likely be enraged by the bugs in the engine.
They're not minor.