Anytime you throw the Lord of the Rings label on a game you are bound to gain some immediate interest. I cannot say I am one of the millions of fans that read the epic books or stood in the line to catch the midnight showings of the trilogy, it just never appealed to me in that way. However that doesn’t detract the notion that this amazingly successful fantasy world can be brought successfully to the video game realm. And then in comes todays game The Lord of the Rings: Conquest from Pandemic Studios which hopes to bring the amazing action of the books and movies to the Playstation 3. How successful were they? Read our full review to find out.
There has been talk of LOTR: Conquest for quite some time now. When Pandemic first started showing the game off there was the immediate comparisons to Star Wars Battlefront which on its own merits was a great game. Although the comparisons are plentiful, similar to my preview of LOTR: Conquest I am going to use as little comparison as possible and talk more about the experience of LOTR: Conquest. So without further ado lets move on to my review.
The biggest appeal factor for me on this game was epic scope that Pandemic continually touted in pumping up this game. The idea of having an epic experience is great but to actually capture the feeling of epic is completely different and LOTR: Conquest only accomplishes on half of it. You start out in the single player by choosing your character choosing from a warrior, mage, archer, and scout. For anyone who has played any action RPG in the past 10-15 years will understand that each of these classes have different strengths and weaknesses which are fully realized on the battlefield.
Playing as rather standard characters may rattle some chains with hardcore LOTR fans, but rest assured you get to take to battle some of the big names as well and it is when you get to play as someone like Gandolph which is truly an experience. There is a real power difference between the standard character and these super-powered well known LOTR characters. These are the few times where you really do feel like you have a strong control on the battlefield. This goes for both the good and evil sides, yes that’s right you can take control of the evil side as well.
My biggest issue with the single player wasn’t that the game had any major glaring issues but that it really lacked a sense of this epic feel. At times the hack and slash nature of the game really drew you away from the amazing fantasy world of Lord of the Rings. I mean there are some pretty great moments in the experience but its separated to much from mundane button mashing to the point where strategy is nonexistent.
The online play of LOTR: Conquest to me makes up for a lot of the games shortcomings in the single player. There are some different variations of deathmatch and capture the flag that all work beautifully. The different classes of characters and the really solid flow of the game online is really a blast to play in. The game does a good job of varying up the different maps and locations to play in.
When it it is all said and done there is real gap between the online and offline play. You can play through the single player campaign with a friend which does help a bit but for me I just could never get into the single player experience. For me there was to much repetition and not enough moments to really grasp the user to want to finish what ends up being a rather short campaign.
Whenever I watch Lord of the Rings I am always taken back by the beautiful landscapes and locations that the movie was so brilliant in bringing to the big screen. The video game on the other hand doesn’t have such an easy time in doing so. There are some levels in the experience that seem to have gotten a lot more attention then others. Visually the game holds up quite well under a lot of major battles both online and offline but in the end it just isn’t going to stand up to a lot of the beautiful games we saw in the past holiday season.
To me I just could never wrap my hands around LOTR: Conquest more because of what it didn’t offer and that is something new or refreshing. Not only have we seen a lot of what LOTR: Conquest has to offer in past Pandemic titles but we have seen it in other hack and slash action RPG’s before as well. To me there was nothing epic nor new to speak of when it comes to LOTR: Conquest and that to me held this game back from being great.
When it is all said and done LOTR: Conquest is a good game that fans of the series will enjoy. For those casual LOTR fans I would say that maybe give this game a rental, but chances are there are better games that you may have missed from the past holiday season that may make better choices. Regardless LOTR: Conquest is a good game that just doesn’t do anything to move to the “great” level.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.