The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar
Review by Scared89
"Is There a New MMORPG Sheriff in Town?"
The short answer to the question, is no. If you only came to this review to see if LOTRO is better than WOW, let me save you some time and tell you that LOTRO comes close, but comes up short. With that, let's get on with the review.
Ultima Online, EverQuest, Asherons Call, Final Fantasy XI, Star Wars Galaxies, EverQuest II, World of WarCraft, and now, Lord of the Rings Online. Yes, Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar does indeed deserve to be called a major MMORPG title and this review will tell you why. Also you will find a lot of comparisons between this game and other MMORPG's so let's get right into the review, I'm sure you have already gotten the basic overview and point from the game from gaming websites so I'll get right into the meat and potatoes of the review.
Gameplay (8/10) - I'm going to cut to the chase and get to the most important aspect of a game right now. LOTRO's gameplay is very fluid and filled with a decent amount of stuff to keep you busy. The classes are varied enough to notice a difference and the game is really fun. What makes this game different from WOW or EverQuest II is the fact that the game is heavily quest based. there are major quests that actually have a story you care about and as you complete these "chapter" quests, you advance in the storyline. It's a great incentive to want to play to see what happens next and also really cuts grinding entirely out of the game. The game also intelligently uses one player instances to further storylines as well. These instances can feature some pretty cool cut scenes and events. The game controls just like your average MMORPG, which is a very good thing. However, the problem with the gameplay also comes from that positive. The game plays too much like all other MMORPG's out there. What I'm about to say will probably make or break you buying this game, so pay attention. If you are bored with WOW and are looking for a replacement game DO NOT purchase this game. I know from experience, because that is what I did. I was sick of WOW and picked up LOTRO because I wanted to play a MMORPG, as long as it wasn't WOW. What you will come to realize is that LOTRO's gameplay is a poor man's WOW, it's really sad, but true and I denied it at first. While playing LOTRO you just get the feeling that you are playing the inferior game, especially if you have already played WOW extensively in the past. The gameplay in this game is very solid (hence the 8/10), but it gets knocked down for being the same thing we have already seen before. LOTRO really needed to do something incredibly innovative or new to really take users away from WOW and not just rely on the LOTR name.
Graphics (10/10) - The graphics are astonishing in this game. The best graphics I have seen from any MMORPG ever. The water, flowing flowers and grass in fields, trees, snow covered mountains, interactive creatures roaming a huge world, it all looks perfect. The game, if run on a high powered machine, can look incredibly beautiful and run smoothly. On top of the visuals already listed, the game offers some creative armor designs. Being able to change the color of your armor is also a big plus to make your character look exactly the way you want him to look. Besides the LOTR name, this is probably the second biggest selling point for players. The only real downside to the graphics is the fact that you need a beast of a machine to be able to make the game look awesome and play awesome, otherwise, you may find yourself playing on the very low settings to optimize performance.
Presentation (7/10) - Personally, I despise the interface of this game. The whole in game interface looks like a cheap knockoff of the WOW interface as it is almost identical to that of WOW's. The text is rather ugly as well and at times your screen can get cluttered with all of the different crap to keep track of. Other than the displeasing visual UI, it is actually very simple to use. The interface is very responsive and works without problems which is a good thing because there are tons of menues and windows to dig through. The saving grace in this category would have to be the story elements. The "chapter" quests that I talked about earlier are presented excellently as you really feel that these are important and that there is a meaning to doing these tasks.
Sound (8/10) - The game has all of the necessary medieval style sound effects. Swords clanging, bow strings pulling, skin being slashed, and magical sounds. All characters and creatures have appropriate sounds. The game's music is a little bland, but fits its purpose. Also, while the sound effects are accurate, they seem also a little bland and almost recycled from other games. Other than that, the sound is great and does exactly what it is supposed to do.
Lasting Appeal (7/10) - The game, like all other MMORPG's, is fairly addictive and keeps you coming back for hours. The quests are fairly interesting and do a good job of telling you why killing 6 wolves needs to be done instead of the typical "kill 6 wolves because I said so" style most games like to take on. The PVP, while still kind of new, is lacking a little. There are very few player characters that have reached the 50 level cap so that means there a significantly more player monsters running around. From what I have played the PVP is a cool idea, but should've been implemented in a different way. Also another huge problem that hurts the game's lasting appeal is the fact that you feel like you have already done some of these things before in other games. The game can feel very repetitive and even give you the feeling that the other games you have played did it better.
LOTRO is a fantastic MMORPG game, but unfortunately it is in the middle. While it is better than EverQuest II, it fails to top the current MMORPG king WOW. Hopefully with upcoming expansions the came can try to reinvent the genre by coming up with new and innovative features to set itself apart from WoW, but as of right now the game is not different enough to pull bored WOW gamers away.
Lasting Appeal (7/10)
Overall Score (is an average): 8 out of 10.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 07/05/07
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