The Lord of the Rings Conquest Review
Pandemic Studios has not been having a good time after its last title Mercenaries 2 was not as well received as hoped. So going into the New Year they have had high hopes on Lord of the Rings Conquest a somewhat predecessor to Star Wars: Battlefront. Some complaints already started before release of Conquest about its similarity's to Battlefront and how it’s just some new paint over an older series. So what makes this game much different?
Well not much really. It is the same formula Battlefront gave us. However with the Lord of the Rings twist on things. The single player is split up into two, the War of the Rings which is the good campaign and the Rise of Sauron which is quite obviously the evil side. The more exciting is the evil side of things as the good campaign just puts you in the most remember able battles from the films, like Helms Deep, Minas Tirth, Pelennor Fields and the Black Gate. The evil campaign starts off from the end of the film but instead of Frodo destroying the ring he is corrupted and keeps it and you as a Nazgul have to find him and yes that’s right kill him. From there you are set a number of tasks to resurrect Sauron’s fallen allies like The Balrog, The Witch-King and Saruman and from there you just wage war and instead of just replaying the good campaign from the evil perspective it puts you in different battles like Weathertop, Rivendell, Mount Doom and everyone’s favourite The Shire, where it’s a mass murder of Hobbits. The cleverest part is that in between missions you are treated to some footage from the films but it is very clever how they twist the footage for the evil campaign to make it look like chaos in Middle Earth. The single player is fun although frustrating as you are set a number of lives and as you complete objective you are given more. However these lives sometimes aren’t enough and you will get down to the final bit of the mission only to get taken down by a puny little Archers a mile away. Overall the single player will take you around eight hours to complete and you can replay it all in two player online co-op which may add to the fun.
The scale of the battles varies. Sometimes you can feel part of the entire war like on Pelennor Fields but sometimes it feels like you are just shooting a handful of enemies which can take away the epic feel of what the Lord of the Rings is supposed to have.
The class system is in place again from your character selection. From your Archer, Mage, Scout and Solider they all have their own abilities. For example the Scout can cloak and assassinate people from behind while the Mage is more of the support class and can cast healing, lightening and fire spells. The classes are equally balanced although you have to work as a team if you want to stay alive for long periods of time, especially in the multiplayer side of it. Then there are also Hero classes and these are rewarded to you at specific parts of the single player normally nearer the end of the level and they range from Gandalf, Legolas, The Witch-King, Elrond, Saruman and even Sauron. This adds to the entire game as blasting dudes as Gandalf just feels like you are a true wizard. There is also a selection of vehicle like mechanics to the game. You can mount horses and Wargs, fire catapults, take control of Trolls and Ents, and even control a Mumakil, you know the big elephant thing. All these act like vehicles as they are just dumped around the map and you just wander up to them and get in.
The multiplayer is the strong point for this game as up to 16 players can fight in game modes like Capture the Ring, which is just Capture the Flag. Then there are more interesting game modes like Hero vs. Hero Team death match where everyone is a Hero class of their choice and you just fight to the death. There is also your standard Team death match and finally Conquest where you must capture and controller points on the map to gain points. The multiplayer is a lot of fun and there is always a struggle between people playing as when the game reaches its half way point the person with the most points on the winning team gets t become a Hero, that is suited to that specific map and then all hell breaks loose. The maps for the multiplayer are just the maps from the single player campaign however this is not at all a bad point as that means there are 13 maps all together.
One of the weakest points to this game is its graphics and sound. Even though the original score of the film is in this game the voice acting is not at all as compelling as I had hoped for. Just hearing some little man saying 'they have taken our control point' over and over again really takes you out of the feel of the game. Even the Hero classes are not voice by the actors except Elrond who also narrates the single player. The graphics are hit and miss. When playing the game it looks like it should. The environments and character models all look good. However, it’s the part before the start of a mission when it tries to look amazing that it just doesn’t. Also the back ground characters that just stand there and laugh because you cannot kill them just look so last generation. Although the game does have some impressive things like seeing a Mumakil trampling across the battlefield and then you as the player performing the amazing Legolas take down on it never gets boring.
The final grip about the game is its combat. There is not much depth to it and sometimes just ends up as a button mash. The archer performs like a shooter. The mage is sometimes slow, but the worst is the scout and solider class where it just seems like you are pressing any button just to stay alive. Unfortunately, I cannot see how they could have made it better as a sword fighting game is not an easy task, especially with multiplayer so it cannot turn into Assassins Creed style of slow fighting with précised timing.
Conquest is by far not a bad game but if you are not a Lord of the Rings fan then this might not be for you as most of the negatives of the game should be over looked by any fan of the trilogy. The evil campaign is a lot of fun and the multiplayer definitely does not falter. But with the poor voice actors and the mediocre graphics the game definitely won’t be winning any awards.