EA as always been known to bring games from big licenses. They know that these types of games sell well with the mainstream audience. One of the biggest things lately has been lord of the rings. You have all probably seen the movies and read the books. No matter where you lived, you what-what the Lord of the Rings is. Other games using the LOTR world have been made, but EA decided to use the movie license so that it would be even more recognizable by people. It seems like it worked since a sequel was released and another one is coming. Here are my thoughts on their first outing.
First of all, the presentation is incredible. They used segments of the movie that they put in the game between stages. Other FMVs were created recreating some of the scenes to blend more easily with the game. So sometimes you’ll be watching a scene from the movie, and it will change to being an FMV using in-game models and it looks really cool. All of the original actors from the movie have made the voice overs for the game. This game is a big budget one and you can easily see it. This game is set in both the Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers. Why? I don’t know. Either they got the license too late and decided to put both in one game or they didn’t have enough content on any of the movies, so they put both in the same package. It’s probable that EA saw the impact the first movie had and so they decided to pick the license after it was released and that’s why they still decided to include the first with the second in the same game.
So the story follows the one seen in the movie through 12 stages. You’ll be playing scenes from the movie, but also some that you don’t see and that happen between. Each stage is pretty straightforward, you just follow the way and kill everything that is in your way. You get to choose from one of the three characters: Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli. You also get to play as Isildur in the first stage, and later as a secret character. Just bashing everything in your way might sound boring, but they’ve added a little something to make it cooler. By killing enemies, you get experience points. With those, you level up. You can get up to 10 levels. You also spend those points on various abilities that you can buy and upgrades, like better armour, more health, better arrows, better weapons, etc. The new abilities you learn are kind of combos that you have to perform, different button combinations. So there are different ways of killing the enemies, and if you kill them in certain ways, you’ll get better ratings and thus make more experience points. Another thing is that you can fill a bar by killing enemies, but when you get it, it empties itself; but when it is full, you’re kind of in a berserk mode where you’re extremely strong and everytime you kill an enemy, you get a perfect rating.
Your character can attack in different ways. You can make fast attacks that don’t cause much damage, you can make stronger attacks which can be used to destroy enemy shields, but since those attacks are stronger, they’re also slower to perform. You can, of course, block incoming attacks and deflect their arrows using your weapon. You can jump back to dodge attacks, like when the cave trolls attack you using their huge weaponry, you can just jump back, dodge the attack, then run at them and attack them, then jump back and use the same pattern to destroy them. Another thing that you’ll often be using is your bow. Unfortunately, Gimli doesn’t have one, so he has to throw axes. Sometimes enemies will be to far from you, so you’ll have to use your bow to defeat them. In the Moria, you’ll be fighting the troll from an upper leel and you have to hide behind pillars and attack him with your bow, just like Legolas did in the movie, so it is put to good use. Some scenes feature huge fights with lots of enemies on screen, like the battle of Helm’s Deep. You’ll be fighting on the wall and the will try to get on it with their ladders so you’ve got to push them back just like in the movie. You’ll also get to save villagers in another stage, but if too many get killed you fail. There are also a few boss battles against certain enemies. Nothing big, but it makes the game more varied.
Since it is based on the movies, EA had to reproduce everything we had already seen and made us believe we were, actually, in the movies. I really think they succeeded since some of the environments really look good. The first stage, for example, tried to reproduce the big battle where Isildur is fighting with the humans and the elves to destroy Sauron and it really looks like what I remembered from the first time I saw the movie. The same can be said about the Moria when they are trapped in that room and get attacked by many goblins. Some states don’t look exactly the same, but there is still a lot of and you’ll always recognize the place where you are. The characters are also all recognizable even though they’re not the most detailed models I’ve seen on the system. There’s a good reason for that though. There is a lot going on in this game, especially in the later levels, and since there are so many enemies on screen, characters could not be too much detailed or the framerate would have suffered too much. It will slow down a little from time to time, but nothing too alarming and it doesn’t make the game unplayable at all. The textures were alright but since you don’t get to view stuff from up close, even if they were blurry you probably still wouldn’t notice it. They really did a great job!
The same can be said about the sound department. The sound effects really are like the ones in the movie. I don’t know if they got to use the same ones or if they had to t=do them all by themselves, but it really makes you feel like you are right in the middle of the battle. The music is also the exact same you heard in the movies and it really creates an immersive experience. When I played it on the big screen on my surround system, it really felt wonderful, and I think that,s the way it was meant to be played.
EA also took the time to make some extra content for the game. There are interviews with the director and with the actors themselves. They talk about their experience of working with the team at EA and how they liked doing the voiceovers and seeing themselves in the game. Some are really funny like the one with Viggo Mortensen as he obviously doesn’t know anything at all about games and I just laughed when he said that Aragorn, in the game, was fighting some ninja things or something like that; I just had to watch it several times. There are also pictures from the movie and sketch arts, and they are really cool and worth a look. There is also a making off of the game with talk with the developers and how they recreated the movie in a game environment. It’ the usual stuff, but it’s still interesting.
Overall, it’s a nice game and you’ll have a good time with it. It’s not pretty long though, but there are secret stages to unlock, one secret character, and 3 difficulty levels. You also get rated on your performance in each stage so you might want to do them more than once to try to get a perfect rating. Most people will finish the game on their first day though so it’s kind of tough to say if you should buy it or not. Maybe if you’re a die-hard fan, but since the purpose of the game was to show you some footage before the actual movie was released, there isn’t really any point to get it now, but it’s still worth a rent.