Review by MurdiusMaximus

"A good game with decent mechanics"

So I played Star Wars Battlefront and Battlefront 2 and loved them to death. I like the sheer chaos that the battle presented and I enjoyed the different classes of characters and heroes and how they could work together to achieve complete smearing of the opposition. So naturally when I saw LOTR:Conquest I was more than a little excited. Lord of the Rings has been one of my favorite movie trilogies since they came out and after a loathsome LOTR:Third Age, preceded by a decent Return of the King I was ready to say FINALLY a great idea for a game based on these movies. Come LOTR:Conquest's release date I snapped up the 360 version with fervor and promptly went home to begin the glorious massacre. What I got was good, but a few flaws existed.

PREMISE
You play as either a Warrior, Mage, Scout or Archer class to participate in some of the epic movie/book battles and annihilate the enemy forces. This game plays much like Star Wars Battlefront and Dynasty Warriors.

GRAPHICS 8/10
While good they are hardly a true representation of what the 360 can do. It pales in comparison to the graphical giants like Gears 2 or Halo 3 but they work well enough for this to be enjoyable. The environments shine here though. They steal the show by far. Pandemic did a wonderful job with the level art. With each map you could tell that there was time put into the graphics and attention to detail was very high. Character models suffer a bit from this, as they, while well animated, are kind of blah to look at. However the nonbasic units such as the trolls and ents were fantastically detailed. Graphics range all over the place in this game but I rate it a solid 8 because believe me I've seen much much worse.

SOUND 9/10
Impeccable. The music is taken straight from the movies and plugs nice into the battles. There is an epic feel and it always seemed like when I cut a foe down the music was apt for the situation. There are some repeat issues with music but on the whole BIG THUMBS UP! Character voices are the only thing that keeps sound from a perfect score as I cringed every time a hero spoke up. Gandalf was terrible. Frodo was miserable. Legolas and Gimli made me want to cry. Aragorn was pretty close and the trolls and ents weren't to bad. If you can ignore the absolute awfulness of the voice acting, and the even worse in objective announcer (Though Elrond was very well done, the high point in voice acting), then the sound fares well. Battle sounds such as swords cleaving, magic slung and arrows firing were dead on as.

CONTROLS 6/10
Now I rate this as it is because of one blaring flaw: no targeting. The controls themselves are tight and responsive. Combos as the warrior are very easy to pull off despite the dial-a-combo approach. BUT THERE'S NO TARGET LOCK! This is the worst feature about this game by far. This leads to some somewhat messy battle experiences that leave one wanting to be more than a little upset. Too many times I was forced to respawn because of losing track of the warrior or scout completely and then watching as they hack me down mercilessly from behind. I find myself frequently adjusting the camera manually to find the bugger I just knocked away from me and he flew off camera. UGH. For crying out loud Pandemic, the person on your staff that decided this little game function should not be present was either completely engulfed in a massive decision debilitating drunken stupor, or has not played a game of this type. Ever.

GAMEPLAY: 9/10
Well onto the meat and potatoes. This game shines brilliantly here. The classes are nicely balanced once you learn them and each character is easy to learn so jumping into battle is cake. Battles feel intense during the single player campaign, and aside from certain NO TARGET LOCKING issues, were a blast to play. The campaign story was a bit generic for the good side but the evil side was interesting. Hero play was fun. The classes have a rock paper scissors feel to them and even a mighty hero can be slain dishonorably by a backstabbing scout. However the online play suffers. I wish the games were bigger. I feel that if you could get something like at least 20 players per side the battles would be much better. Levels like Weathertop and Pellenor Fields were a blast in the campaign but online far to much time was spent looking for foes rather than fight them. But the map layout and design is very, very good. Online game modes are pretty standard: Capture the Ring, Team Deathmatch and Conquest, and all work well. I think if they could find a way to mash more people into single battles online this game would never leave my 360. Spawn times can be a bit frustrating, but overall its addicting, fun and honestly nothing feels better than completely nuking gandalf into oblivion by a 23 hit combo with the warrior. The classes are well balanced as said before, though sometimes it seems as if the scout wins the day. So nice job there Pandemic. Now about that no target locking issue...

FINAL THOUGHTS
Well so there ya have it. This game has the official MurdiusMaximus stamp of approval. Pandemic took the Battlefront idea and morphed it well. The game is something of an oddity these days because it makes you want to pick it up again and again. Its a good time killer and it fares very well with the competitive gamer as well. Something that seems popular in reviews is: "is this a rental or a buy game?" This statement is ludicrous because one should ALWAYS rent before they buy. This one is surely one that one must like this type of gameplay to really enjoy it, as it has a pretty focused gamer target, but it was enjoyable enough to experience, and was good enough for me to buy after playing the demo. So Pandemic delivers well in this case, and I look forward to future installments or DLC or UPDATES (target lock target lock target lock!!!) for this game.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 01/28/09

Game Release: The Lord of the Rings: Conquest (US, 01/13/09)


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