The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Review by Gopu
"Much better than I was expecting..."
As the title of my review suggests, I got a lot more than I expected when I played this game. I was really worried this game would have some major flaws. Plus, I don't know of many good games that were based on movies. Its not the best game I've played, but its very well done considering the kind of details they had to add in. I don't have any big complaints about this game.
OK, for the story, I felt it would be too difficult to try and come up with a numerical value. The story is supposed to be that of Lord of the Rings, and it is, but its just not presented entirely. The game explains in general what happens, but people unfamiliar with the story might get confused at certain parts. I assume they didn't want to reveal too much of the new movie, so that's probably why they left out certain details. But the story that is has is shown through clips from all three movies, and cinematic sequences (which are well done in my opinion, despite the fact that the characters lips don't move).
At first I was thinking of giving this only a 9 (because the lips don't move), but then I felt that would be unjust. The graphics in this game are just too good to let me lower the score over something as trivial as characters lips not moving when they talk. The surfaces are well rendered, backgrounds are detailed and there is never a lot of slowdown. And the fact that there is no horrible slowdown is very impressive considering what you're seeing on screen. In some levels there are probably over a hundred characters at one time, along with explosions and fighting, and the game only seems to slow down a few frames. Its barely noticeable, and does not hinder you in any way. The camera angles are rarely a problem (I think the camera has only caused problems for me once) and I think it was more of a fluke than a real problem.
The sound was also very well done in this game. The cinematics have voices, not subtitles (you can turn on subtitles if you want). The sound effects are really nice in general. There is a lot of chatter from NPCs and enemies while you're fighting, sounds of things exploding or rocks from catapults flying by. The clang of metal when you block an attack, the twang of a bowstring, etc... I don't recall hearing any glitches in the sound or any other bad things about the sound. So because of these reasons, I don't think this category should be any less than 10.
OK, first, this game is an action-RPG. You fight in real time, but you also level up. With the experience points you get, you can purchase new combos and abilities. I like the fact that this game has combos, because it helps steer it away from being a button-masher. I also like that you can parry attacks (which makes it more realistic than a lot of games I've played). The characters also seem to be designed pretty well. They seem to be pretty close to what they should be (without making the game unbalanced, of course). The reason I took off 1 point is because sometimes its hard to figure out what your objectives are, or where to go. Like one of the levels is really massive, but because I didn't see a ramp (because of the camera angle), I couldn't get the other side of the level. At first I didn't think you COULD get to the other side, but I eventually found my way. It would have been helpful to have maybe a map or arrow or something to help you find your way around.
The game is pretty good, and I have fun replaying the levels. Once you beat the game you get three secret characters and you get the ability to use any character in any level (they are no longer restricted to their own path). However, the secret characters aren't really that great (but they're not bad). Leveling up is fun, but unlike other RPGs, you don't collect new weapons or armour, so its not as replayable as a regular RPG. It also has a co-operative mode, but I've yet to try it (I need to get some friends over).
For my review, I'm rounding the 9.5 down (to show that its not a PERFECT game). However it is very well done, and is certainly not a disgrace to LOTR. So rent, or buy it, whatever you want. Just play the game at the very least. Its quite an experience (especially for a LOTR fan like myself).
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/16/03
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