The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar
Review by ajsr1982
"Lots of potential"
This game has the potential to be the best MMO around. Yes, it's new, and it will take time to get everything just right, but the initial signs are good. Having played WoW for two years, I'm in a good position to make a comparison. After all, WoW is the benchmark for MMOs!
The storyline is fantastic. You get to choose your race (Elf, Hobbit, Dwarf, Man) and you start from the relevant point in the world according to which race you chose. The storyline for each one is different as you progress through the levels. You will meet various characters from the books along your journey. Although the story doesn't explicitly follow the books, the additional parts are very good and they follow the same theme. For those who are looking for a close relation to the books, you may be disappointed, but you have to remember that the books only provide so much detail, and to make a successful MMO, much more is needed.
The sound here is pretty much what you would expect. Soothing, composed music in the background, but that is fitting for the environment that you are in. Aside from that, you have the usual grunts and whatnot; metal on metal, etc.. It's nothing special, but it does the job. The graphics, on the other hand, I think are really well done. The characters and the mobs are really well proportioned, they move properly. Some would call it dull, but the realism is really there. The landscape is pretty stunning, and again, very realistic. Some of the elf cities will take your breath away, they are really that good!
Not much to say about the controls really, they are pretty standard. Move your character about, and push numbers to execute commands! Similar to the sound, it's what you would expect from an MMO, but it does the job well enough.
After playing WoW for so long, the gameplay in LotRo is really quite refreshing. I won't pretend that it isn't similar to WoW, because it is, very much so. It is missing things that WoW has, but it also has some welcome additions. One of these is the 'Deeds' system. You have to, for example, kill 30 goblins in one area, and you will receive an attribute bonus, or you may receive a new title. The new title is purely for showing off, but it's a nice innovation.
The similarities to WoW are there though. You have the same types of quest. Go kill this particular mob, deliver a message to whatshisface, go and find this item, collect 7 of these, etc, etc. I have noticed though, that a higher percentage of the quests are 'chains' (ie, there are a few parts to it), so this gives you an opportunity to get more involved in the story). The levelling system is similar, and you get new attributes upon levelling (though you can also do this by completing Deeds).
The game is new though, and there are things that can be improved. For example, the writing above players heads is too large, and when you get 20-30 in the same place, it's just a big mess (though you can turn this off). You can't really tell how much damage your special attacks are doing, as the damage is displayed in the same colour as your auto-attacks. Little things really, but they can, and probably will be improved over time.
You can form parties (or fellowships as they are called), and there are guilds (known as kinships). One thing though, is that the classes are quite different to WoW. Some are similar, for example you have a tank (called a Guardian), but they have some cool classes such as Lore-master, which doesn't really fit into any of the WoW classes, and a Burgular, who has many of the Rogue abilties, but can't do the same damage.
Bit of a difficult one to call, this. The game, as a standalone game, I think may have a reasonably short life-span. The level cap is 50, and I've already seen level 40-odd players knocking about. There are perhaps 7-8 areas to play in. So, less than half of WoW. On the other hand, they have a ready-made world if they should choose to release expansions, which quite frankly, they would be stupid not to. There is the potential for up to 6-7 expansion packs with this, which when they are all out, would provide a world much more expansive and diverse than WoW.
The game is a good game, but not great. Yet! It is easy to tell that it's new, and there are many things here that can be improved, and developed (there is the notable absence of an 'evil' side). But the main thing is that the bones of a great game are in place, and if they expand the game as it can be expanded, and release even 80% of it's potential, then watch this space, as the best MMO around will be LotRo, by quite some distance.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 05/01/07
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