Review by horror_spooky
There was a time a couple of years ago when almost no multiplayer game had an acceptable offline multiplayer component; instead, the games were entirely focused on the online aspect of the multiplayer. Online is great, but offline is necessary to ensure the game reaches its full quality. Developers have learned this and slowly, but surely, offline multiplayer has been making its comeback, and while Lord of the Rings: Conquest gives and admirable attempt in the battle for offline multiplayer games, its overall mediocrity (and worse) hold it back significantly.
Lord of the Rings: Conquest allows up to four players split-screen, and you can also play with your buddies online. The basic set-up is similar to the Star Wars Battlefront games, except executed horridly.
If you're going through the storyline, you're either on the "good" or "evil" side, though the storyline can only be played with two players. You choose which character you want to be sometimes, and occasionally you change into some of the characters from the films and books that have really, really strong powers. There are different classes to choose from as well, but the combat is so simplistic and boring that it really doesn't matter much at all.
There are always plenty of enemies and allies running around at any given time, but you will just end up frustrated at how stupid your teammates seem to be and how smart the enemies seem to be. Dying is easy in this game, and you will die a lot, and it's mostly because you're fighting a war all by yourself.
There's not much gameplay variety here at all. You basically do the same thing every round, and that's just kill a ton of people. Sure, there will be the occasional "objective", but it's nothing more than an excuse to let you slice and dice people to hell.
The multiplayer versus modes are a little bit more entertaining than the campaigns. In these modes, you can face each other in a variety of different gameplay rules. The standard fare for any multiplayer game is intact, but Conquest's ease of use helps it stand out. You can make an entire playlist of maps and the type of game you will be playing on each map, plus all the individual settings, right from the menu. This ease of use does earn Conquest some points, and hopefully some other developers take notice of the occasional things the game does right.
A little bit of fun is to be had with some of the classes. One of the classes allows you to turn invisible and stab enemies in the back, which is always good for a few laughs. The mages are basically useless, and the other classes are what you'll be using most often since they can take the most damage and deal the most damage as well.
The Lord of the Rings franchise tells an impressive narrative that spans multiple books, movies, previous video games, and other forms of media. Conquest decided to focus only on the battles, and as a result, the storyline is essentially stripped from the game. You'd be surprised at how weak Lord of the Rings is without the plot, and since the gameplay doesn't justify the general lack of storyline, this was a big mistake on the developers' part.
Conquest is graphically disappointing, too. While its impressive that there is four-player split-screen with a bunch of different enemies and allies running around all over tarnation, it is disappointing that the levels are bland. They are so bland that just looking at the brown and gray environments throughout the entire game will make you yawn so many times you'll lose count by the time the credits roll. The detail on the characters is weak as well. Honestly, a game with this kind of graphics caliber could be done on the original PlayStation, and there aren't even any nifty seventh generation graphic techniques to help Conquest out.
The musical score will get you pumped up for sure. The overall audio quality is lacking when you consider the sound effects and voices are repetitive, but the musical score is expertly done and fans of the films should recognize the tunes I believe.
You won't play this game long. There are a lot of achievements to earn, but you won't feel the need to play the game more than a few hours, so you probably won't even bother with them. Popping this baby in every once in a while to dink around with a few friends is likely to happen, but spending any really personally extensive time with Lord of the Rings: Conquest is unlikely to happen for anyone.
Lord of the Rings: Conquest does nearly everything wrong, but it still manages to have a tiny bit of fun underneath the weak graphics and repetitive audio. The musical score was impressive, but the gameplay needs a complete make over. Certainly the next game in the Lord of the Rings universe will strive to exceed the low bar Conquest set, and it will be interesting to see if the franchise will be crushed under the stress of poor media representations.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 10/26/09
Game Release: The Lord of the Rings: Conquest (US, 01/13/09)
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