PS3 Reviews: Lord of the Rings: Conquest Review

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Lord of the Rings: Conquest Review

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Replay Value:



Online Gameplay:



Overall Rating:       5.9






Pandemic Studios

Number Of Players:

1 (16 Online)



Along with Spider-Man, EA's Lord of the Rings titles were one of the few examples of well done movie-licensed videogames, unlike Vivendi's poor attempt, which came out around the same time. So when we found out that EA's planning another hack-'n'-slash, which will once again center around the three films, we were fairly excited at the prospect of this new and hi-def entry into the franchise. I, personally, have had a chance to play it numerous times over the past year, and while there were some flaws, I didn't expect them to carry over to the final game, especially after hearing about its delay.

Before I harp on the bad, here's what you need to know...LOTR: Conquest is unlike any other Lord of the Rings game; this particular game let's you fight the battles that went on all throughout the movie, but as alternate characters that aren't restricted to following the path of the movies. For example, during the Battle at Minas Morgul (a mission from neither book or movie), while Aragorn is elsewhere in the city, you're controlling a fighter at the line of conflict, right by the entrance gates. As this fighter, you are able to move about to another area when you've secured your previous location.

Eventually, as a power-up, of sorts, you'll come to a point in a mission where you can take control of a hero, which include Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli. You'll have the choice of choosing between three fighter types, who are basically weaker versions of the aforementioned three heroes. So think of the ability to play as the stars of the movie, as a sort-of power-up, because the heroes are much more powerful than the generic warriors. Furthermore, other heroes/fighters include Gandalf, Faramir, Frodo, the Ents, and more.

Combat is, of course, much like previous LOTR games, which means hack-'n'-slash action with combo centric attacks if you choose a fighter, or long-distance archery if you choose an archer. You'll also be given a few melee options when things get hectic nearby and you need to fend off opponents, on top of a modifier button that adds magic powers to your strikes. LOTR Conquest is all about taking you through the battles of the three movies in chronological order, and allowing you to see them in an all new light. On top of that, not only do you get to participate in battle from the movies, but also additional ones that go beyond the films.

The big twist to Conquest, and what really separates it from the rest, is having the ability to be the bad guy. Once you complete the game once, you'll have the chance to play through the Evil Campaign. You don't just act as a random apprentice, either. You get to take full control of beasts such as the Balrog during his confrontation with Gandalf, or Sauron, Trolls, Oliphaunts, and so on. Using the enemy goes beyond being just a novelty, as LOTR: Conquest allows you to alter the events of the trilogy, where, for example, Frodo never destroys the ring, and instead gets killed. And so when you're in control of the dark side, you're in an alternate LOTR universe.

As you can see, there is a great and novel concept here. It's a shame that the concept is interrupted by outdated game mechanics that make Conquest feel more like the PlayStation 2 and Xbox games it's essentially following up. The controls feel clunky, as the combo system is perhaps the biggest offender of making this game feel older than it really is. As opposed to slick, quick, and intuitive combos, you're faced with a more mundane experience of heavy, slow, and seemingly unresponsive controls that don't help you fight off large crowds of enemies with swoops of grace. Instead, you'll often find your fighter getting repeatedly beaten down, and while I'm all for great A.I., I'd also prefer to have the proper mechanics to help me fight the enemy off.

Beyond that, Conquest isn't structured very well, either. It's too repetitive, becoming rather quick to feel dry after about an hour of play time. The further you play, the more you realize that you're stuck in a state of redundancy, and it's a shame, because a world as epic and expansive as that of LOTR's deserves an adventure that can at least offer that sense of freedom and scale.

LOTR: Conquest does feature multiplayer offerings in the form of 16-player online, two-player co-op via split-screen, or four-player co-op online. The competitive online multiplayer, such as Capture the Ring, Hero Deathmatch, and Conquest are without a doubt better than the single-player experience, but not by a whole lot. Since you're still utilizing the same game mechanics, the gameplay isn't nearly as great as it could be. But because you're dealing with actual players and not hordes of A.I. relentlessly swinging at you, the interaction is certainly more tolerable and balanced.

Another flaw that still stands with the final game is the visuals. Last year I remarked that the game doesn't look as good as it should. To me it looked more like a hi-res PlayStation 2 game rather than a full-blown next-gen PS3 game. Lord of the Rings Conquest boasts a very bland picture with ho-hum textures, and below average character detail. Nothing about the visuals comes off as quality, and again, I have to express my disappointment, because this could've been shaped into a powerhouse and visual tour de force. To add to that, the animation is also lacking, bringing down the visuals even lower.

The audio is without a doubt the game's best trait, seeing as how it features a soundtrack from the movies, terrific Dolby support, and passable voice acting. But I'm not saying that the audio is great. The voice actors aren't the original movie cast, and so if you've watched the films multiple times, it'll feel somewhat jarring listening to these foreign voices. On the other hand, the soundtrack is well done, and because the action can get pretty loud, turning up the home theater is a good immersion factor.

The bottom-line with Lord of the Rings Conquest is that it's a game that had a ton of potential. Had Pandemic and EA given this game fluid action elements in tune with more modern games such as Devil May Cry and Ninja Gaiden -albeit not to those extremes- we'd have a winner on our hands. But as it stands now, Conquest fails because it feels outdated, despite featuring a novel concept. It feels outdated not just in its core mechanics, but also visually, and that's a shame when you're dealing with a franchise that epic.

1/25/2009 Arnold Katayev

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New Comment System

Legacy Comment System (18 posts)

Sunday, January 25, 2009 @ 1:52:53 PM

This could have been epic...

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Sunday, January 25, 2009 @ 2:02:29 PM

THe Lord of the Rings is over. end of. a game about the Hobbit should be on the rise...

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Sunday, January 25, 2009 @ 8:24:09 PM

Let's hope the Hobbit movie fares a tad better.

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Monday, January 26, 2009 @ 4:48:51 PM

I think you meant the game...since the movies made an absolute killing. If you expect the Hobbit to do better than the trilogy that's some pretty high expectations.

I played this game all weekend and finished the story...I thought the game was a little short and was disappointed after I finished...wanted to play more.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009 @ 3:03:12 PM

Heard this game sucks harder than a whore!

Anyway my worst game of the year 2008 goes to PoP.

Last edited by www on 1/25/2009 3:04:11 PM

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Sunday, January 25, 2009 @ 3:06:56 PM

hmm, Pop seems good. as for this game, it sounds great, til you get the bad stuff. but if it's bearable, will try the demo to see, might pick it up.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009 @ 5:30:53 PM

I got the game, i think online is really good. Completed the campaigns within a couple of hours of getting the game. To me its still worth getting for the online multiplayer.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009 @ 8:13:18 PM

Oh man what a let down, I really wanted this game. I'll try the demo just for the hell of it. I've been following it and I'm guessing it got rushed big time.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009 @ 8:34:33 PM

That really sucks. I was looking forward to playing this game. I have not played any of the LOTR games yet, and I guess I never will.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009 @ 10:44:42 PM

I haven't played them either and I loved the books and movies so I dunno if any are good but you can get the PS2 ones dirt cheap on ebay.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009 @ 9:26:20 PM

I only wanted this game due to a few reasons, 1) Pandemic, 2) Supposed to be Star Wars Battlefront like and 3) to play as the awsome bad guys =D. wish pandemic would make SW:B3 instead of Rebellion(if that's who's making it now, only hearsay i guess)

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Sunday, January 25, 2009 @ 11:11:42 PM

i played the demo and was very unimpressed.

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Monday, January 26, 2009 @ 12:41:45 AM

Hey Arnold any chance of an Afro Samurai Review? Looks tight but need some guidance bro.

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ArnoldK PSXE [Administrator]
Monday, January 26, 2009 @ 1:42:04 PM

Hopefully soon.

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Monday, January 26, 2009 @ 8:00:56 AM

Arnold i agree with this review 100%.
I bought this game thinking it was going to be awesome well i was pretty damn disappointed, the game play was so boring and repeitive i figured if i played more it would get better NOPE. The visuals were really disappointing i thought they would be better than that for a next gen game. Online sucked cause no one had the game for me to play with really, i beat the within 5 hours and that was that.
Thank goodness Ebgames here in Canada had a if you play it and beat it or whatever within 7 days of pickup you get a full instore credit for that game (preorder deal only) so i got my money back the next day and preordered resident evil 5 special edition :) but ebgames has the same deal with that game so now i'm scared but i'll see the demo is out soon.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009 @ 12:33:23 AM

OH wow, was gonna rent the game but reviews here are always pretty solid so not gonna waste my 6$. Still a fan of LOTR though.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009 @ 1:10:54 PM

I used to play LOTR The Two Towers on my ps2 and it was good, with great soundtracks from the fellowship of the ring and scenes from The Two Towers because the game was before the movie, so i really enjoyed playing it! =)

Last edited by 0_o on 1/27/2009 1:12:09 PM

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Thursday, January 29, 2009 @ 9:16:23 PM

I'm still getting it for Xbox 360. There are far too few games with four-player split-screen these days, and I like to have something to play when my friends come over that isn't Rock Band, Rock Band 2, or Halo 3.

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