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The Lord of the Rings: Conquest Review
developer: Pandemic Studios
PIV 2400, 1GB RAM, 6GB HDD, 256MB video card
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Jan 13, 09 (released)
|» All About The Lord of the Rings: Conquest on ActionTrip|
Killing a franchise, slowly and painfully.
Oh yes, there was a time when games like Return of the King or Battle for Middle-earth would bring hours of fun. The excitement would, naturally, have to be attributed to the massive Lord of the Rings and Tolkien hype, largely fueled by the release of Peter Jackson's movie trilogy. Not the case these days. Most gamers share the notion that the industry has seen enough Tolkien-themed titles. Pandemic and EA think differently.
When I first heard about Lord of the Rings: Conquest though, I actually thought it might be a nice slice of gaming. The idea was to take the familiar Star Wars Battlefront gameplay mechanics and mold that with the ever-popular Lord of the Rings setting. At the time, from some angles, this seemed like a promising idea and I thought that if well-executed, it could be a decent refreshment to the scene of multiplayer action games.
Lord of the Rings: Conquest is designed with straightforwardness in mind, but only in the sense that it's easy to choose a character class, pick a map and start playing. Entering online matches is also very simple, so we don't have much arguments there. On other aspects, it's a different story. Apart from having rather awkward physics, this game feels underdone in certain segments. During gameplay the most common problem we saw was players plunging to their sudden (make that "bloody instant") and painful deaths. This happened to us frequently. Because of freaky collision detection and weird character movement this game lost its appeal very fast. Again, it's extremely easy to send a member of the opposing team flying headfirst into nearby chasm - this occurs no matter which side you're playing on and it causes plenty of aggravation during gameplay.
The modes in Lord of the Rings: Conquest are ordinary and amount to nothing we haven't seen in many other multiplayer titles that preceded it (conquest, capture the ring, team deathmatch and hero deathmatch). The same can be said about the character classes. Players can choose to play as one of the following: Warrior, Archer, Scout or Mage. It's the same choice on both good and evil sides. This means that, in terms of combat and class-specific skills, the experience is pretty much the same regardless of which side you're on.
Overall, the game doesn't go far beyond the standard action (or, basically your average button-mashing fest if you happen to be playing on consoles). The matches themselves soon become tedious even if you continue to switch characters and sides. Pandemic even threw in an opportunity to control well-known characters such as Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, Saruman, Sauron, etc. The battles actually lead up to a conflict between two heroes. Sadly, this doesn't provide the kind of entertainment we were hoping for. The battles aren't nearly as engrossing as in other top modern-day action games.
The generally disappointing combat gets duller by the minute as you play. Take the Archer: you take part in battles and just keep firing an endless amount of arrows, usually with no idea whether your hits are on target or not. There are a few special attacks, such as multiple arrow shots, poison arrows, flaming arrows and such, but that hardly seems rewarding at any point in the game. Other classes feel equally disappointing. The Warrior utilizes the same attacks and combos over and over again, the Mage flings a few spells, while the Scout regularly fails to perform his unimaginative backstabbing move - usually resulting in the words "epic fail" in the chat window.
Plenty of familiar locations, maps are nice, a few cool ideas;
Altogether a pointless effort we could've done without.