The Lord of the Rings: Conquest
Rated T for Teen
Released on Jan. 13
Developed by Pandemic Studios
Released by Electronic Arts
The Lord of the Rings saga, available in both book and convenient film formats, has always prioritized grandeur, pageantry, silly names, and ridiculously bloated lengths. A straight-up hacknslash button-mashing game adaptation might seem at odds with all that, but its not inherently a bad concept. The idea does have at least one major strike against it, though. Its 2009, and Lord of the Rings is about as fresh and exciting as Jay Leno. The caboose to this Tolkien gravy train shouldve come chugging along a good while ago. Even Star Wars merchandise fell off the map between Return of the Jedi and the late-90s special editions. Yeah, the first couple of Lord of the Rings tie-in games were surprisingly good at the time, but that was back when the title of worst president ever was still a twinkle in Ws squinty eye. Middle Earth and its characters are no longer exciting to visit in and of themselves, so any game will have to approach them in a fresh or novel way.
Unfortunately, little about Lord of the Rings: Conquest is fresh or novel in any way.
Its similar to the popular Star Wars: Battlefront series, which isnt surprising, since the same team developed both. Like the Battlefront games, youll choose a character from one of a handful of classes and fight through battles from the movies (the game owes far more to Jackson than Tolkien). Occasionally you get to control an iconic character such Aragorn or Gandalf. After fighting through eight levels as the heroes, you play through eight more as the bad guys. Both sides have the same classes, though, and the only difference is appearance. Apparently evil henchmen and valiant Fellowship members are both equally idiotic, as the artificial intelligence is consistently disappointing. It certainly looks like youre fighting alongside an army, but youre basically the only guy capable of accomplishing anything if youre capable of successfully handling the clumsy controls. Even the online multiplayer, ostensibly a chief selling point, is a drag, with uninspired game modes and unbalanced character classes.
Theres little to recommend about this awkward, repetitive title. Its only strengths are minor, and restricted solely to presentation. The graphics and music are perfectly acceptable for a modern-day game, but arent especially commendable. They just happen to be two of the few things about Lord of the Rings: Conquest that arent resolutely sub-par. So its got that going for it, which is nice.
(Photo courtesy Amazon.com)
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