Review by WonderCaliban
"Fun for 5 minutes, but nothing special. Rental only."
Are you a diehard Lord of the Rings fan? Yes\No. If you answered yes then you might be more forgiving to this game than I am. Indeed you may even play it for hours on end.
But, if like me you enjoyed the films and book but are generally more interested in playing a great game than a game based off a beloved franchise then your time will be better spent elsewhere.
This game is a 3rd person action game split into two campaigns. The first campaign has several levels each where you play through key battles in the film (I say film as this is more based the movies than the original source material). The second and more interesting campaign charts events after the return of the King if Frodo had decided not to destroy the ring and Sauron had managed to reclaim it.
You can play through each level as using a mage, scout, warrior and archer. At key points you get the opportunity to play as a 'Hero' which is essentially one of the main characters.
Sounds good so far? Well in principal it is an awesome idea, recreate some epic battles with your favourite characters. What could be so bad?
Well for a start it's a very short game. About 5 hours in total (perhaps even less). Which is pretty criminal. The combat system is dreadful,there is little point honing your skills button mashing will do. In fact the combat becomes such a confusing mess it's pointless to try and develop some skill with it. The levels are repetitive and dull. Move your character from one objective to the next, each objective having little variation. Epic parts in the film are also reduced to short ten minute segments. Helms deep and Pellenor fields are over very quickly and feel like mere skirmishes.
The flaws in the combat system also make some areas frustrating as you feel as though you have little control over whats actually going on. you will die in points from no fault of your own. The whole thing feels unfinished, as though this is a version six months from release.
Perhaps the best thing about this game is the second campaign, playing Saurons armies and killing Aragorn, Legolas and Gandalf is quite satisfying. But not such a high point to save the rest of the game. In fact when you do get to play as some of the evil characters it's a bit disappointing that they aren't walking tanks. As the Witch-King you spend alot of time on the floor as he takes forever to get up after being knocked down and Sauron, well you'd have thought that with the One ring he would be almost god-like. But no, if your not careful, mere seconds after you get your hands on him then he can get carried off by an eagle and die. Even if he doesn't he's not really so powerful you'd have thought it would take armies to stop him.
As for the online, well its poor. Playing against humans rather than AI fodder shows up how awful the combat system is. You get knocked about without any clear idea of who is actually dealing you damage and it just becomes a huge mess. I suspect in a few months it will be dead.
Perhaps I am too harsh, This game held my attention for about 6 hours, in which time I completed the campaign and played for an hour online. I doubt even the most fanatic fans could get more than 15 hours out of the whole thing. But I cannot recommend purchasing such a short, mediocre game.
But as an afternoons rental its okay, easy gamerscore as well.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 01/20/09
Game Release: The Lord of the Rings: Conquest (EU, 01/16/09)
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