Review by Ancient_Fate
"LOTRcon is not for everyone"
Did you like Star Wars Battlefront? Do you like Lord of the Rings? Are you alright with playing a game that plays like a great game from the past? Did you enjoy the demo? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you'll get a kick out of Lord of the Rings: Conquest.
LOTRcon plays pretty much like Battlefront, but set in the LOTR universe. Obviously enough, it has a heavier emphasis on melee combat due to it being a fantasy game. However, there is an archer class for shooter junkies and a mage for varied ranged/melee combat. The core gameplay is broken down into four gametypes, involving four classes.
Conquest is your standard Conquest from Battlefront, but with a few differences. The basic idea is the same: battle it out for supremacy in an area as two teams trying to take over three to five Control Points which double as spawn points. The difference from Battlefront is the addition of the point system. When a CP is controlled by a team, they slowly accumulate points. I'd assume this is to create a way for the match to end before a team has all CPs, as the reinforcement counter from Battlefront has been done away with. The more CPs a team has at a time, the more points and how fast the team gains points increases. A team who reaches the pre-determined point limit wins. Alternate victory is to grab all CPs (so the enemy cannot spawn) and then kill all enemies.
Capture the Ring is a neutral-flag CTF-type game. The One Ring is placed in the middle of the map, and forces battle to take it to the enemy base. There are no CPs able to be captured, only two to spawn people. The Ring Bearer must only enter the enemy CP's ring to score. The Ring then resets to the middle without troops resetting. First to a pre-determined score wins.
Team Deathmatch and Hero Team Deathmatch are your basic Deathmatch modes. No CPs to capture, no Ring to recover, just kill to win. For the most basic of players who can't focus on more than one thing at a time. Hero TDM is TDM but with only Heroes. First to the (as ever) pre-determined score wins.
Warriors are your basic soldier unit. These are what you want the most of and in the most places. They are to be shredding the lead in the heat of battle. Sorry, I went a bit Conker: L&R there. The Warrior has a single claymore for melee combat and a respawning tomahawk for ranged attack. Their strengths include close-range combat and CP attack/defense. They have the fastest dash speed, as well.
Scouts are your specialist melee soldiers. They have the ability to cloak, becoming near invisible, and backstab enemies for instant kills. They also come with respawning bombs for ranged attacks and knockdown. Their main weapons are two small daggers. At first glance, inexperienced players will see this as the "super cool" assassin character. This is not the case. The Scout is much more effective as an espionage agent, using his stealth abilities to sneak past enemies to capture abandoned CPs and destroy war machines like catapults and ballistae. They can be used to assassinate Heroes; however, this is the only good reason to use its assassination abilities. Otherwise, the skill is worthless. The melee prowess of a Scout is not to be underestimated, however, as their greatest combo can kill any unit in the game (with the exception of Giants and Mumakil).
Archers are the shooter-lover's best friend. With a wide variety of arrows including standard, explosive, poison gas, and multi, they are a force to be reckoned with at any range. They have the longest range of any class, and by zooming in and hitting the head their arrows can inflict critical damage, often ending an opponent's life in one shot. Explosive arrows knock enemies down and set some alight. Poison gas arrows create a cloud of, well, poison gas. Enemies affected by this cloud are slowed to a crawl and lose health steadily. Multi arrows target the three closest enemies automatically and fly much faster than standard arrows. Archers also possess the almighty Kick of Sparta for close range encounters, which is immensely satisfying on maps with small ledges leading down to death like Mines of Moria and Osgiliath.
Mages are in a word: overused. They are easy to use, and this leads most new players to think they are the best. They can charge up a medium-range lightning bolt projectile that can arc from one player to another, create a ring of fire on the ground that slows down enemies and does damage over time, have a shockwave ability to disrupt enemies around them, can heal themselves and allies by adding on a maximum of 75% health to what they already have (but not going over 100%), and can hold a shield up indefinitely that blocks all spells and projectiles. They even have small melee ability. All this combined makes this the jack-of-all trades, no weaknesses yet tons of advantages, easy to use class that new players love.
Heroes are just beefed up versions of other classes with different abilities. Aragorn is a Warrior that can heal himself and use the power of the undead. Legolas is an Archer who can ride shields and fires fast. Gandalf is a MAGE with a SWORD. Frodo, for some reason, is a Scout who can attack while invisible. These are only Heroes on the good side, and only a taste of them, at that. Heroes, unlike in Battlefront, can remain on the field indefinitely as opposed to the time limit of Battlefront. They can be killed much easier than in Battlefront, solely based on the fact that they don't have lightsabers that instakill and can't reflect blaster bolts back at you. They can, however, be healed by Mages. Beware.
Halfway through any of the gametypes but HTDM, (ie: when a team reaches half of the score limit) the highest ranking player on the team gets access to the map's Hero. This is potentially unbalanced, but good players can overcome it.
Overall the gameplay is highly enjoyable, but online needs a bit of variety, as people will tend to use and abuse their favourite or what they consider the best. It is more fun to play with friends than the unreliable fools on Xbox LIVE. The real beauty of this game's multiplayer, however, is in bot matches; just like Battlefront. Campaign has hundreds of bots, and online matches can have from zero to fifteen that can be used to fill up empty player slots. Bots are immensely superior to players, unless, of course, it's you and a couple friends in a bot match.
The story itself and the story mode are wonderful. All the great LOTR story you've come to love. Story mode consists of nothing but the most epic and important battles of the three movies, and so cuts out the useless parts like all. the. walking. There are some minor issues with inconsistencies with the canon such as Gimli leading Gondorian troops into battle or MAGES EXISTING.
The actual story mode is fun as well. In addition to what I said up there, the battles are much larger than instant action and multiplayer. The varied objectives are a hoot, too. You'll find yourself having to defend a point for three minutes (in which you'll likely kill almost everyone there), then you'll be ordered to kill a bunch of people in a time limit. Challenging stuff. Other objectives are pickup/delivery, elimination, regrouping, and capturing CPs.
The sound is great. From crowds of NPCs shouting to blades clashing to bowstrings tightening and being released, everything's loyal to the movies. Almost everything. Voice-acting for Heroes sound NOTHING like the movies, and Aragorn's prepubescent voice is full of laughs.
The graphics are nice, as well. It's not bright and plastic like Halo and not grey and dirty like Gears. It's not terribly detailed, but most things you should be looking at (like characters) are good. Backgrounds are forgettable.
With achievements that seem easy to get, yet draw you in and take while, campaign is highly replayable for you achievement whores out there. Campaign can be replayable for die-hard LOTR fans, as well. Multiplayer is great, but the horrible Xbox LIVE community will leave you hating it after a while. Just like in Battlefront, the real replayability is in the customizable bot matches. Besides the score limit for game modes, you can choose how to spawn the Hero and who to give it to, the difficulty of any bots, and more.
LOTRcon is a very good game in many people's opinion, and utter trash in others'. I am one of the former. There isn't really much wrong with the game, it's just that it is a bit unbalanced and nothing really new. People are too picky nowadays and are too spoiled by the same things over and over so that they no longer remember the classics. The game is great, with few flaws, and deserves a buy if you like LOTR, Battlefront, or aren't spoiled.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/20/09
Game Release: The Lord of the Rings: Conquest (US, 01/13/09)
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