The most overlooked advantage of owning a computer is that if they foul up there's no law against whacking them around a bit.
- Eric Porterfield
Lord of the Rings: Conquest
I wanted to like this game, I really did. I am a big fan of the LOTR series and Tolkien's works as well as Star Wars Battlefront 2, which this game is modeled after. So when I bought it, I expected an excellent game, since Battlefront is easily one of the best games for PC ever made. Admittedly, I bought Conquest for the 360, so the experience is not the same, but anyway...
Conquest should feel familiar to players of SWB2, and the Return of the King video game. Both campaigns have the same basic units: Warrior, Archer, Mage and Scout. Each class has its own fighting style and abilities. There are two campaigns, "War of the Ring" and "Rise of Sauron" as well as an instant action function. The War of the Ring campaign follows the key battles of the trilogy including Helm's Deep, Minis Teirth and the Black Gate. Each mission has different objectives, but most involve killing a hero/captain, destroying an object, or capturing a location or and object. Each mission has a different hero that becomes available at some point during the level. For the Good side these include the normal heroes you might expect; Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimili, ECT. This campaign essentially follows the movie plots and is very similar to the Return of the King video game.
The Rise of Sauron is comparison has a unique plot. It begins at Mount Doom, hunting for Frodo and ending, SPOILER ALERT, by killing Gandalf, Treebeard and dozens of Hobbits in the shire. The classes are similar and function almost entirely the same.
Actual game play: Each class has its own fighting style including separate powers, abilities and tactics. They are employed with varying levels of success depending on each situation. Like SWB2, you begin by picking a class, which can be changed throughout the game, and trying to accomplish objectives without dying too many times. You have a limited number of troops and can lose if you exceed this number. Without going into too much detail, the warrior class fights with a sword, with abilities that allow for more damaging attacks. The Archer has a variety of arrows it can employ, as well as a limited melee attack. The scout uses two blades in combat, as well as explosives and stealth ability. The mage uses lighting strikes, fireballs and healing to aid in combat. I was disappointed by the instant action feature. It would be fun in multiplayer, but the single player version is, in a word, lame.
Drawbacks: The most annoying aspect of the entire game is the lack of checkpoints. Gamers who attempt higher difficulties will become infuriated when the death of Frodo in Osgiliath causes you to restart the level. This fact alone caused me to throw my controller, thankfully into a pillow, in anger. There are also a few forms of cheap deaths. For example, while playing as Sauron, fighting on a bridge, an eagle flies out of nowhere and grabs me, which is an instant kill. It is also possible to become trapped in the air temporarily by the Warriors sword attacks. Also, it sometimes takes two attempts to figure out what to do in a level, such as what class to be, or how to use a device.
Difficulty Settings: DO NOT START THIS GAME ON HEROIC OR LEGENDARY SETTINGS! Anyone starting this game should begin on casual. The difficulties are not so much a measurement of difficulty, but of annoyance. This game is fun and entertaining, even addictive, on casual. However, on heroic, the player resorts to using the archer all the time, and on legendary, you break the disk.
Graphics: I originally bought this game for PC, but was unable to play it because it required a 4.0 GHZ processor. Its not that the graphics are insane or anything (like Crysis), but the scale of the levels causes it to need such a powerful processor. Unlike many games, the action isn't solely concentrated on you. If you hide in a corner, the fight continues. I did notice that whoever designed the game put a lot of effort into the maps, as I discovered while my corpse floated in some incredibly realistic water in Hobbiton.
Rating: So, I what would I rate LOTR Conquest?
Graphics (0-2): I give this game a 1.5. There was obvious effort on the part of the animators to incorporate realistic properties into level design, and while texture was somewhat lax on characters, the overall effect was great.
Storyline (0-3): Ignoring the War of the Ring campaign, which was really just the movies, the Rise of Sauron was well written, though I felt it could be longer and that there were obvious missions that could have been included. I liked the idea of each hero returning to their own people to make a final stand. As such, storyline I give a 2.0.
Game play (0-4): Subtracting .25 for knock-downs and .5 for cheap deaths, and finally .5 for the annoyance factor of higher difficulties. I give game play 2.75.
The Bonus Point (0-1): I played all the way through the game, and really thought I wouldn't find anything that really "wowed" me enough to give this point out. Then I got to the last level of the Evil campaign, and you get to kill hobbits AS THE BALROG! It's like that level in SWB2 where you get to shoot a bunch of Ewoks; it is just to cool, because everyone hates hobbits. For that, I give the extra point.
Side Note: I was really impressed by the heroes for both sides, and the uniqueness of each. The coolest power of all belongs to Isilduir, who travels so fast he leaves behind copies of himself in the air.
Date: March 4, 2010