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Game ReviewsThe Lord of the Rings: Conquest by Eonwe-(Valar)

The Lord of the Rings: Conquest

Eonwe-(Valar)
July 4th, 2010
System: XBox 360, Playstation 3
Developer: Pandemic Studios
Publisher: Electronic Arts

This is yet another game based on the Lord of the Rings movies, rather than the books, and the last from EA using their license. Don't expect it to adhere too strongly to any lore. It has mages, which is already a nail in the coffin in that direction, but it also sets up scenes that wouldn't/didn't happen in the books. That's ignoring the "what-if" campaign for the Bad-guys.

Soundtrack

Nothing special to note here: if you were fine with the movie soundtrack, you'll be fine with this game's as well.

Graphics

The graphics aren't incredibly bad, but they're not stunning either. Don't expect any particularly breathtaking scenery or amazing character detail.

Gameplay

LotR: Conquest takes you through some of the fights in the movies, and some original ones. It's by the developers of Star Wars: Battlefront, and they tout that it makes use of gameplay similar to Battlefront. I've never played that particular game, so I can't comment on that. The concept is similar to Dynasty Warriors, however, in that the player character(s) are wading through armies of enemies, completing objectives, and capturing checkpoints.

Honestly, I bought this game when it first came out, pre-ordering it because for whatever reason at the time I decided I needed a mini plastic replica of the Witch-King's sword (and I thought I might actually enjoy the game). This isn't exactly the worst LotR-based game I've played (see my review on the GBA version of LotR:The Fellowship of the Ring for that), but it's not among the best either. I tried it then, of course, but after the frustration of trying to get a warrior through the Orthanc level (for the record, I did try the other classes as well, but to less effect), I left it sitting on the shelf for a year, until not long ago I decided I needed to go ahead and finish it. That isn't typically a good sign for a game right there.

That would be the first sticking point: with a single person going through, it can be incredibly frustrating. What you *should* do in some situations isn't very obvious, and the visual cues are not always clear. Sometimes the mobs are just overwhelming, and if you manage to die while they're overrunning you, good luck turning the tide. With a second person, however, the game becomes almost laughably easy. Sure, you might still die, but at less than a handful of points in the game did I feel in danger of losing once I dragged in a second player. Most of the time when I did die, it was to something incredibly stupid, like attacking a troll on some narrow stairs in Khazad-dum and ending up flying off the side (an annoyingly frequent occurrence), or something that was as far as I can tell unavoidable, such as one of the Nazgul flying down on his fell-beast and dragging my character off into the air. I managed to finish the Good campaign in a few hours with a second person, disappointingly short.

The combat system isn't incredibly complicated either. It's pretty straightforward, as in Dynasty Warriors: you mash one or two buttons, with a different button for a fancier attack thrown in every now and then. The fancy moves depend on the class: the Warrior will get a fire attack, for example. These rely on a type of energy, for the warrior.

Heroes, like Gandalf and Aragorn, are on occasion playable, but they're essentially specialized types of the standard classes. It was fun to play them at times, but not overall exciting, and they go down just as easy as any normal character, for better or worse.

Seeing as the online multiplayer servers were shut down in March of 2010, I had no chance to test the multiplayer capabilities.

Overall, the game is more frustrating than challenging. I really don't see alot of replayability in this game, and apparently neither did the online players, or that aspect might not have been shut down after only a year. In my opinion, it isn't worth the $60 price tag (which I paid to get a 6 1/2 inch plastic sword, heh), but might be worth a spin at $20 if you have the cash to burn and nothing better to play. Unless you just must have your single-man-slaughters-entire-army game set in Middle-Earth, you'll probably be happier grabbing any one of the several Dynasty Warriors games.

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