Tedious button masher at best.
I assume the story stays true to the movie counterpart. I say this because I was never really interested in the books, the movies, and this is the first Chronicles game I played. That being said, I know it follows the movie plot for the most part because while there are cinematics, there is also movie clips to go along with the current scene. So if you like the movie, you can expect the same here.
You play as one of a couple characters who all have the same basic premise. You can attack your enemies straight-up, but the system isn't really deep with very few combos to speak of. You also have character abilities, i.e. dwarfs can go through smaller areas while the male humans can pick up rocks or use grappling hooks, and a couple people can even use their bow. That being said, the whole game is mashing in enemies' face (of which they yield no blood) until you reach a quick and mindless puzzle. You will travel through 6 levels, each level having a couple missions. That's really it, you'll occasionally get a boss but they are pretty easy to figure out and defeat.
The sound is very bland. You'll hear the same sounds over and over, the music is okay but it tries too hard to sound "epic" and less fitting for the level. All the voice acting is meh, so it wasn't very inspiring at all. The graphics would look decent for an Xbox 360 game from 2 years back, they aren't all that great. The world from a distance was probably the best this game looked. One of my biggest problems was the fantasy aspect, the dwarves just looked ridiculous, and the giants were messed up. Maybe LotR set my expectations from the fantasy genre up a bit high, but it's not hard to make a race look remotely creative.
No reason to play the game twice, you have a level selection at any point you want it. This game is definitely only worth a rental, especially since all of the achievements can be gained in one day if you rush it; definitely in a rental. All the levels are pretty much the same in concept, sure one level is a beach and one is a castle, but you're still pushing rocks and beating up enemies. If you have kids, I guess you could wait until it hits the bargain bins, since you can play with 2 people.
[Originally reviewed by me, on GS; May 20th, 2008.]