The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age is a turn-based RPG developed by EA Games, and published on the Xbox, PS2, and GameCube. The game follows the adventures of a "Shadow Fellowship," which follows in the footsteps of the original Fellowship journeying across Middle-earth to cast the One Ring into the fires of Mt. Doom. Along the way, the members of this shadow fellowship engage in acts such as helping Gandalf defeat the Balrog and fighting alongside Aragorn at Helm's Deep.
The Third Age focuses mostly on combat, with story told through occasional cut scenes or NPCs. Few NPCs be interacted with however, and the game features no dialogue trees. The story covers the full span of The Lord of the Rings, beginning with events depicted in Fellowship of the Ring and continuing through The Two Towers and The Return of the King.
This game is notable for being the first RPG EA Games ever developed. It was not particularly well received by either RPG fans, or Lord of the Rings fans, and has been largely forgotten since it's release. One of the primary reasons for the story's poor reception is due to the fact that EA owned rights to the films but not the books, thus producing many scenes taken directly from the films.
The combat in The Third Age is turn-based and noticeably similar to Final Fantasy X, which was released three years prior. Primary differentiators include an ability tree that grants the party members new skills by frequently using existing abilities.
The game has four main characters, while others join the party for limited amounts of time. Similar to Final Fantasy X, the party members are distinguished by the weapon styles they use and their combat strengths and abilities.
The game also includes an "Evil mode" which allows the player to engage in specific battles from the main campaign as the minions of Sauron. Prizes earned in this mode can then be used in the primary campaign.
Many different characters are encountered throughout the game. Most of them bear at least some resemblance to characters from the Lord of the Rings films.
Berethor is a human warrior who was stabbed by a Morgul blade, and is now without his knowledge, under the sway of Saruman. As a captain of the Gondorian citadel guard, Bretheor fought alongside Boromir during the battle for Osgiliath. After Boromir left Gondor, a steward sent Berethor to look for Boromir. He then shadows the fellowship searching for him. It is while he is searching for Boromir that he is attacked by Ringwraiths and is defeated. However, an Elf called Idrial finds him. She chases away the wraiths, and and heals the wounded warrior. Later, he continues to follow the Fellowship, guided by Gandalf.
Idrial is an elven warrior who serves Lady Galadriel in times of need. It was Galadriel who sent Idrial to find Berethor, and to aid him on his quest. She is highly skilled in water magics, making her an important party member, and the primary healer.
Elgost is a Dundeian ranger. He is found lying on the ground in a mountain pass, baiting wargs. At the last second, he leaps to his feet and kills two of them. After the party helps him finish the rest of them off, he joins the party. His story is that he is searching for his friend, a dwarf called Hadhod. According to him, Hadhod was carried away in an avalanche while they were fighting some goblins. Together, they hope to find the entrance to Moria.
Hadhod is a dwarf, and like many other fantasy dwarf, he bears resemblance to Gimli. He is a powerful warrior who fights with axes and hammers. His main advantage is that he is very hardy, his stamina is the highest in the party. He is found holding off a cave troll, and is grateful for your help.
Morwen is a peasant girl who found in the remains of her village on the plains of Rohan. She seeks vengeance for the deaths of her friends and family, and hopes that her parents may yet live in the refuge of Helm's Deep.
Eaoden is a member of the royal guard of Rohan. Not much is known about him, but he possesses amazing spirit powers, and he holds a secret to Berethor's past. His magical abilities, and his impressive spear skills make him one of the most valuable assets to your party.
The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age was not well-received by critics. Primary issues found with the game include its lack of gameplay originality, owing to how much its design borrows from Final Fantasy X. Its characters and story were also a point of criticism, as its original characters feel like thinly disguised existing figures from The Lord of The Rings. The plot itself is poorly written, awkwardly fitting these new characters into existing events, with cutscenes stitched together from footage of the film trilogy narrated by Gandalf.
Game Boy Advance Version
Unlike the other versions of the game, the GBA version stuck to the main story and split the game up into three parts; one for each film.
Main "Good" Heroes:
Main "Evil" Heroes:
The ESRB rated the PS2, Xbox, and Gamecube versions of the game Teen for Violence. The GBA version was rated Teen for Mild Violence and Blood.