The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is the follow-up to The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. The game is a brawler based on the movie of the same name, and it features ample footage of the movie trilogy. You can play as Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Gandalf and Faramir.
The game features 13 levels following three story arcs. One story path will follow Gandalf the White, one will follow Aragorn's, Legolas' and Gimli's ventures, and the final path will follow Sam and Frodo, along with their guide, Smeagol. The game starts out with an introductory level from the second episode of the trilogy; the fight at Helms Deep. All story arcs will culminate in the same spot: the fight at the Black Gate and the level that takes place in Mount Doom.
Combat is pretty simple. You have a weak attack and a powerful attack, a parry button that needs to be timed to block attacks, a button to kick enemies down, a move that will instantly kill downed enemies, and a ranged attack. Ranged attacks are tailored to specific characters, for instance, the Elf, Legolas has a very powerful bow, while Gimli has weaker throwing axes. If an enemy carries a shield, you must break it with a powerful attack or fully charged ranged attack. You can't move while parrying, although a quick sidestep move solves this problem.
The game recreates scenes from the movie, but some fictional events are also turned into levels, for instance Gandalf's second level, which sees him going around Isengard slaughtering orcs.
Two players can go through the entire game cooperatively, aside from the singleplayer's first level, the fight at Helm's Deep.
There used to be support for online coop, but the servers for this game were taken down in 2005 by EA, like many other games. However, with two controllers, coop on a single PS2 and TV is still possible. First the very first level in the game must be completed, then the entire rest of the game can be played with player 1 controlling whichever character is at the center of the story mode, and player 2 controlling a secondary character.
Unlockables and Extras
- There are some extras unlocked upon beating the game.
- Secret character: Faramir
- The ability to replay any level with any character, except for the game's opening level, Helm's Deep, which can only be played through with Gandalf.
- Two bonus survival levels; Saruman's Palantir and Sauron's Palantir. In these levels, you are in a misty area, and you have to fight off 20 waves of enemies.
- Cheats, that can be activated in the pause menu during a mission.
- Interview with David Wenham, the actor for Faramir.
- Interview with Dominic Monaghan, Merry's actor.
- Interview with Billy Boyd, the actor who played Pippin.
- Interview with Andy Serkis, the actor who did the motion capture and voice for Gollum.