Olyphaunts are appropriately hulking. One of the few appropriately done things in the game.The Lord of the Rings: Conquest
Developer: Pandemic Studios
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3 (reviewed), PC
I have actually put off writing this review in the hopes that time would dispel some of the pain from my memory. Unfortunately, I had no such luck, and as such, have very little by way of nice things to say about this game.
First, I'll present the good, as limited as it is. The online multiplayer can provide some semblance of entertainment. Capture the flag and Team Deathmatch with Olyphaunts, Wargs, and Ents are pretty cool propositions. It’s easy enough to jump in as any of the four classes, Mage, Scout, Archer, and Warrior, and hold your own in a 16 person multiplayer battle. Unfortunately, cheapness, rather than strategy, is the real name of the game in this mode, no matter what particular type of match you’re playing. Looking for a little unranked public single match battle? Good luck. Over a week after the game’s release, there were a whopping 6 unranked rooms available, with players in two of them.
The modicum of fun found in the multiplayer did absolutely nothing to make me want to go back to the single player campaign, however. It is hard to find something about the single player campaign that isn’t broken. Character movement and even the animation supporting it is slow to the point that you can get bored easily while fighting an entire army of orcs. The disjointed motion was awkward enough that it became the focus, rather than the gameplay. The only affective class, at least in the early levels of the campaign, is the Warrior. With his extra hit points, you can survive an entire battle. Unfortunately, with the reduced vitality and damage of the other three classes, they quickly become entirely useless. The cutscenes from the movies are a nice bridge, but when overused the way they are here, it quickly goes from “Oh, I remember that awesome moment” to “MORE?!”
One of the big promises is the ability to assume control of some of the heroes of the story for individual battles. A warrior gets ready to cut down an Archer. Reading that sentence gives an accurate idea of the excitement of actually playing the game.Unfortunately, there is little to no difference in the way these Heroes control compared to how the regular class characters do.
In what most suspected was going to simply be a Lord of the Rings overlay on top of the solid Star Wars Battlefront games, it’s hard to figure out how and where they went so drastically wrong. With the rich source material, it becomes even more baffling. Somehow, they managed to make these massive battles into incredibly boring, drab moments. The scenery and graphics in general looked pretty, and the battle sounds were authentic enough, but that was then overlaid by possibly the most annoying narrator to appear in a game.
As a fan of beat-em-ups and a fan of Lord of the Rings this game should have been a slam-dunk for me. Instead, it became one of the most grueling tasks I’ve ever had in a video game. Not finishing it, just playing it.