Review by JonFireblade
"Continuing the tradtion of LOTR video games"
Is Lord of the Rings Conquest a good game?
In short: no
In long: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.
And here's why:
If you've been with the Lord of the Rings series as it has been desperately attempting to break into the video game industry through out the years, you will undoubted remember "THE" high point of the series: Lord of the Rings- Two Towers.
Ironically this is the first game that was released with the premier of the Movies some years ago. Since Two Tower we have "Return of the King" that became known as the Prime Example of the "one button to kill them all" motto used in every stereotypical Hack n Slash to date.
We also have LOTR: The Third Age that was thought up and created by a writer watching too much day time TV shows (and thinking they have excellent story lines) and a director that wanted to make a cheap knock off of Final Fantasy X's combat system. Incidentally the video game series has not improved since then and LOTR: Conquest has proudly carries on that long lasting tradition of down grading quality. Allow me to explain.
LOTR: Conquest. Finally, a game that should have redeemed the series in the video game industry. A game that would realized the full potential of the setting, the battles, the scope of this truly timeless classic that deserves so much more and that the series longs to deliver to its disheartened fans........................................................
Game Concept: 9/10
Game Play: 5/10
Story Line: 6/10
Essentially LOTR: Conquest is an amazing game concept gone horribly wrong.
After playing the game for about 5 minutes you get over the fact that you can't wait to take part in some of your favorite massive battles from the movies you love so much.
And at that point, with a great amount of force, the game slaps you in the face like an angry prom date and tells you that you were expecting too much, to get over your fantasies, and to accept that things aren't going to get any more exciting. Suddenly under the pretty and enticing surface you realized that you just used all your hard earned cash to pursue a dream that just isn't going to come true.
The graphics look like they belong back on the PS2 and are by no means Xbox360 worthy. In fact the 360 doesn't even like the game. If the 360 where a high school student, LOTR:Conquest would be that annoying kid in class that is begging to join the group of cool people like Gears of War 2, and Halo 3, and Assassin's Creed who get to hang out with the 360 on a regular basis, but for some reason they just can't stand LOTR:C and he just doesn't get it, thinking that what he's doing is so cool but in reality he driving them crazy.
The in game Dialogue is cliche to the extreme and after hearing the same phrase repeated about a 100 times by your allies it starts to really grate on your nerves. Not to mention the narrator for the game-matches ends up being really annoying instead helpful.
And while on the subject, lets not forget the long winded narrator for the cut-scenes between campaign battles that we've gotten used to over the course of the other LOTR games, so nothing new there. Or rather they managed to screw that up too by hiring the same script writer from "The Third Age" who managed to take every slightly cheesy moment from the movies that critics complained about ,and managed to take it to a whole new level of awkwardness that would put most day time soap operas to shame. This in turn destroys the story telling aspect of the game since it is the only story telling aspect of the game to begin with.
The game play, while having great potential, suffers greatly from a lot of factors. The game concept was essentially to have a player join in a battle while lots of enemies and allies engage in extended combat on a massive scale in exciting locations from the various places of the movies and books. The combat was largely based on the Star Wars Battle front series, a series that I might add, for the most part was met with success. Except one major problem!!!
The combat worked well with the star wars series because with the exception of the Jedi everyone was using guns and grenades and other things that go "boom". In other words: lots of noise, a touch of the chaos found in battle, and generally what every decent combat game seeks to achieve: a solid adrenaline rush.
Where as in the lord of the rings series everyone is using swords. So with the same number of enemies and allies on the map everything is fairly quiet in comparison due to the fact that in order to get the same kind of explosive action, you need ALOT of enemies to slaughter. However, even with the additions of archers explosive arrows and Mages spamming magic, the encounters with enemies are in fact very BORING and very annoying. Usually the two signs of a really bad action game.
There aren't nearly as many enemies on the battle fields as the game designers claimed there would be and as a result you have alot of small skirmishes across the map and not alot of massive slaughter fests that you were looking forward to when you bought the game. While the game creators certainly make a worthy attempt to capture the scope of the movies, they honestly fall short in some serious ways. In fact the maps themselves are not that bad, they need some major graphic work, but all in all they have great potential. The controls and character classes while at first glance are excellent, ultimately fail when it comes to actual battles. The enemy mages do nothing but spam their shield skill rendering arrows and therefore the archer class useless and enemy warriors do nothing but block constantly until you attempt to attack them and then spam special skills. This generally leaves the player either knocked down on the ground eating a nice dirt sandwich or waiting angrily to re-spawn after dieing for the majority of the battle. Which, unless you've already guessed, is not that enjoyable.
All in all if I could pick two major flaws with the game they would be this: The game is missing a major FUN factor that countless other games understood. Second, the game is almost unforgivably lacking in graphic quality.
Honestly, I love the lord of the rings series, but its about time the series threw in the towel and gave up trying to produce a decent video game. Although I can't really blame the LOTR series as much as I blame Pandemic Studios for even trying. That's right, I blame YOU Pandemic Studios. I say shame on you for doing something so stupid; it honestly would have probably been better if you had left the series dead and buried instead of digging up the old corpse and trying to dress it up in new cloths and pass it off as your new best friend. I mean honestly, what happened?
Battle Front 1 was a truly great game, Mercenaries was good too, both had great game play, good graphics, and over all was designed and implemented well. But since then it's as if you feel you've achieved greatness and therefore no longer need to put forth the effort in order to produce high quality games. AND if you are having trouble understanding what I'm saying simply take a closer look at the down grade in graphics and in game play quality of Mercenaries 2 along with the glaring flaws of Battle Front 2.
I mean did the entire graphics staff quite or something? And the design team apparently started smashing their heads against brick walls as a new hobby of losing brain cells. But I'll wager that there must be one lonely person with some level of intelligence left in the company because there are one or two things that end up being done exceedingly well.
My Advice to the lone survivor is to get out while you still can.
My Advice to the remaining staff would be that you should have realized you were doomed from the start. The problem with doing a game based on The Lord of the Rings is you have to get permission from the copy right owners of the movies, and the books, and the music, and everything else which leaves you nothing but the change in you pockets to fund and pay for the graphics and game play development. By which time you realized it would have been better to burn the money then giving it away to copy right holders and so in a panic you hastily throw together a game and ship it in hopes that the die hard fans of the series will buy enough copies to save the company from going bankrupt.
So for all you fans out there of the LOTR series or of the Star Wars Battle Front games:
--> please if you feel any doubts PLEASE rent this game before you buy it because you will probably hate it or love it.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Originally Posted: 01/16/09, Updated 01/20/09
Game Release: The Lord of the Rings: Conquest (US, 01/13/09)
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