The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Overview

As far as the videogame is concerned, the Two Towers follows the plot of the movies quite closely. In fact, you’ll be playing through the events in the Fellowship, and then advance to the second installment, The Two Towers. The game starts off with the prologue, which tells the tale of the creation of the rings of power, and the One Ring that is used to rule them all.

The game takes you through the best and most action-packed segments of the two movies. First you get to learn the game’s basics as Isildur in the battle at the base of Mount Doom. And then take the role of Aragorn in the fight against the Ringwraiths at Weathertop, ultimately culminating in the battle at Helm’s Deep.

Gameplay

Let’s get one thing straight. The Two Towers is an all-out hack and slash action game. As opposed to the dire Fellowship of the Ring game, The Two Towers doesn’t try to combine many gameplay elements such as puzzle solving, item fetching or exploration. Think of it as Dynasty Warriors 3 set in Middle-Earth, and you’ll get the picture.

The controls are fairly simple. There are two basic attacks, the speed and fierce attacks, assigned to the X and Triangle buttons respectively. You can also kick/shove your enemy by the Circle button, or parry enemy attacks with the Square button. You can also use projectiles (arrows for Aragorn and Legolas, and throwing axes for Gimli) with the L1 and X buttons.

Any self-respecting hack and slash title wouldn’t be complete without combos. This is where the fun starts, as you’ll get a variety of movies by combining button presses. But these moves aren’t available at the start. You have to earn them, or rather have the chance to purchase them based on your performance in the particular level. Yes, just like in Devil May Cry, you’ll be graded on the effectiveness of your attacks - fair, good, excellent and perfect. The use of multiple combos will net you more skill points, whereas using only basic attacks will get you much lower scores.

The Two Towers also features elements of RPGs, in which your character will gain levels based on the aforementioned skill points. Increased levels will also unlock upgraded attacks and health upgrades, which again must be purchased via your skill points. The tip here is don’t bother to stock up on your points. Spend them on everything that you can afford, as they’re definitely needed for the next level.

The levels are very linear in nature, which leaves little room for exploration. You’ll follow a set path, killing everything that comes your way. Other characters will also join you in attack, but it’s largely up to you to ensure victory. For example, the level in Balin’s Tomb will have the Fellowship fighting against the swarm of goblins and the huge Cave Troll. The Fellowship can help you take out a few enemies, but you yourself must bring down the humongous monstrosity yourself.

The missions in The Two Towers are quite varied. You have the usual "kill everything and move on" level, to "time attacks" and highly charged boss battles. As this is an out and out action game, there are no puzzles for you to solve. The only thing that requires a higher level of thinking is figuring out how best to kill at end-level boss. It may sound shallow, but the sheer amount of enemies on screen, and the jaw-dropping combos that you can use makes up for this flaw.

The audio aspect is also impressive. Everything from the clash of swords to the battle cries of the orcs are reproduced here flawlessly. The accompanying score from the movie also here throughout the game, making that feeling of playing the movie a lot stronger. Another plus side is that The Two Towers features the original narrative and voice action from the movies. This means that when you hear Gandalf speak, it’s really voiced by Ian McKellan. Simply stunning and thoroughly enjoyable.

Graphics

The visuals in this game are certainly classy, which is exactly what you can expect from EA Games. The game features footage from the two movies, starting from the opening prologue to the end battle at Helm’s Deep. One particularly clever approach is the seamless transition from video footage to in-game graphics, which creates the impression that you’ll playing the movie. Very nicely done indeed.

The in-game graphics is also well-detailed. The characters themselves sport a massive amount of detail, with Aragorn who looks just like his on-screen counterpart. The same can be said for the vast amount of enemies that the game throes at you, all look very realistic and are very well animated.

The surrounding environment is also spectacular. From the snowy mountain pass to the dark and grim Balin’s Tomb, and the ultimately chaotic Helm’s Deep, everything looks authentic. But what impresses me most is that the game keeps a fairly brisk and steady framerate, which is astounding considering the amount of detail that goes into the characters and environment, not to mention the frantic action that takes place on screen.

Fun Factor

Do I like the game? The answer is an emphatic yes. Although the game’s 12 plus levels are fairly short, the amount of exclusive features that you can unlock certainly will make you play this more than once. From character arts, production photos to interviews with the cast members, the game has everything for Tolkien fans.

If I have a gripe about the game, it’s its length. Yes, I mentioned that there are rewards for replaying the game with other characters, but I can help but feel that a few more levels, more playable characters or a decent multiplayer option would have made this game an absolute classic.

Overall

As a game based on the hit Tolkien movies, The Two Towers certainly would be a hit among fans of the movies, and action gamers alike. Everything from high-quality presentation, solid gameplay to exclusive unlockable bonuses just exudes a high degree of class. The Two Towers looks like another winner from EA Games, and shows that movie conversions can work, if done right.

Former owner and editor in chief of Darkstation.com