It’s been a while since Peter Jackson’s epic Lord of the Rings trilogy brought the classic Tolkein book to the masses and made the whole experience in Middle Earth very enjoyable. So it’s strange to see a hack ‘n’ slash game come out so late. Mind you, that hasn’t stopped Star Wars games still coming out so let’s see what Lord of the Rings: Conquest has to offer.
The game’s developed by Pandemic, the same people who made Star Wars Battlefront, so in essence what we get here is a similar game but instead of being full of Stormtroopers, laser guns and Ewoks, this one’s got warriors, elves, big swords and magic. Similarly, it’s multiplayer they really want you to take part in as it’s the top item on the menu screen. You can play on the good side or as one of Sauron’s naughty ones in 16 player online battles or in 2-player co-op campaigns and there are four different classes you can play as.
The warrior is handy with his sword and can string together combos to unleash special flame attacks, the archer unleashes a salvo of arrows to hit enemies at a distance, the scout can turn invisible and sneak up on people, and the mage can cast magic and heal people. These classes work identically whichever side you’re on. Occasionally, you can also choose to play as one of the heroes whether it’s Aragorn, Legolas or one of the other cronies and can take control of Ents, Oliphaunts, the Balrog and other massive creatures.
There are also two single player campaigns. You can play as the allies as you try to put an end to all this evil nonsense, taking part in epic battles from the movies, or you can play as Sauron’s armies and play through a campaign that later on shows what might have happened if Frodo didn’t throw his ring into the firey lava. Sounds painful.
The presentation and the sheer scale of the game is fantastic, but my problem lies in the controls and combat not feeling meaty enough. When you fight you just don’t seem to feel like you’re connecting. When you’re surrounded by enemies, Dynasty Warriors does a much better job of making it feel like you’re kicking some serious ass with the business end of your blade. The character models also don’t look great, but that’s maybe something to do with optimising the game for online play. There’s also a spawning system but weirdly, you also have lives. In this day and age it just seems a bit odd to die and have the game tell you ‘Game Over’. It’s punishment enough to respawn a little away from the action and have to retake territory you were once winning.
Personally, I’m a little bit over the whole Lord of the Rings thing. However, if you’re not and you like this type of game, it’s worth a look. The Lord of the Rings: Conquest gets a good but not very epic 6 out of 10.
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