tissueshoe's The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (GameCube) review

A challenging and satisfying action game with great co-op play

Positive:
+ really, really epic
+ co-op is awesome
+ upgrades are really cool
+ lots of characters to play as

Negative: 
- playing as the hobbits is pathetic
- single player mode is way too hard
- the camera still shifts randomly

Lord of the Rings: RotK is one of the movie games that really stands out as actually being good. It improves upon Two Towers in many ways, adding a whole co-op mode, more characters to play as, and updated graphics. It might not be perfect, but hacking and slashing your way through hoards of orcs is undeniably enjoyable.

Return of the King follows the movie pretty closely with three separate ways to go with. You can go on the Path of the Wizard with Gandalf, the Path of the King with Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli, or the Path of the Hobbits with Frodo and Sam. You can go to any path at any time, which is nice. While the Wizard and King paths are really cool, the hobbits are a pain to play as because they are very weak and their levels are very difficult as a result. The rest of the game is very challenging as well, even on the easy difficulty setting.

The game's levels are pretty huge long with tons of enemies to slash through. The combat system is pretty basic but as you buy more combo moves it gets more complex. Getting to Perfect mode with combos also becomes easier once you start taking advantage of all the cool upgrades. Unfortunately, though, the combo meter is always steadily falling whether you are taking damage or not, which is really annoying as you naturally want to keep a combo when you are progressing through a level between fights.

RotK's main attraction is definitely the two-player co-op play. Grab a friend and you'll have much more fun with the game and it won't be nearly as difficult. This is the main improvement over the Two Towers game, but there are also improvements in the area of graphics. They are a bit less choppy and the details depicted don't look so strange, which makes for a much better visual experience overall.

One of the issues RotK didn't fix, though, is the camera. When you enter another area, it will suddenly shift and make you lose track of where you are supposed to be going for a moment, which gets awfully tiresome.

RotK is also a very cinematic experience. The cut scenes are very cool; with clips from the movie (which are actually a little choppy, unfortunately) perfectly and seamlessly shifting into the game's own visuals when the time comes. Playing as most of the major characters from the movie also makes the experience very cinematic, and although the voice acting is a little cheesy at times it is pretty well done overall. The game is also very epic, particularly when you have hoards upon hoards of orcs to fight.

Overall Return of the King is a great game. It improved upon its predecessor in a few crucial ways without overdoing itself and offers a very epic, cinematic experience much like Two Towers. So if you are a fan of Lord of the Rings I highly recommend you get this game, and if you aren't I would still encourage you to look into it because it really offers some fun, simple action and is great to play with a friend.

Gameplay: 8.0
Graphics: 8.0
Sound: 8.5
Value: 8.5

FINAL SCORE: 8.4/10
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