by Josh Miller
reviewed on PC
Re-entering a familiar world
As I entered into the Realm of Brandywine after over a year of being inactive, I found myself in the virtual city of Bree which was as familiar to me as my own house. I immediately went to see if my old kinship was still kicking and kicking they were. So far all was fair in the world of Lord of the Rings Free to Play, but would that remain so?
Should I really pay nothing for it?
After reading about some of feature cuts such as reduced inventory, I dreaded clicking on the little bag icon which opened my inventory slots. Since I was now using the free to play version I expected to have a mere three bags instead of the normal five, but to my surprise I did in fact still have five. Apparently, if you have the initial game bought but the monthly subscription canceled, you still have access to some of the VIP features which could either be a bug or just another awesome feature of a so far great looking game.
Apart from the occasional generic looking terrain, everything looks great. The game takes advantage of DirectX10 which leads to some memorable moments during the night where youíre gazing at the landscape in awe under the moonlight. The unique art style it has sets it apart from other MMOís and is fresh and original. It takes a cartoon animation like characters and environments and seamlessly blends that with a wonderfully painted picture like style. This offers a beautiful combination that lights up with excitement when you transition into combat and see the ability and spell animations the game has to offer.
A basic Recap
You donít need a particularly strong computer to play this game. If you own one a few years old, all you have to do is set the graphics down a notch or two and youíre set. Just donít expect to be wooed by the graphics. The full sensory package is not carried by the visuals, but by the sound design. Once you enter your realm for the first time, youíll notice the stunning visuals and sweeping melodies that are emitting from player made lutes or the beautifully orchestrated background theme with a wonderful descant.
Much of the game, both graphically and gameplay wise, is still unchanged so you can experience all the things that World of Warcraft offers and more, but for free. Nothing should keep you from it.
In Lord of the Rings Online you start with creating a single character that you will control throughout the entire game. Middle Earth, is an open world which means you are free to explore and go where you will. The only limitation to where you can go will be your character level as higher leveled creatures in the land will overpower you. You can increase this level by killing monsters and completing quests. Interactions with other players can be made by typing messages to them, trading items, grouping up into teams, and going with those small teams to defeat monsters throughout Middle Earth.
It just keeps expanding
If you played Lord of the Rings Online before it went free to play, then you will notice the first change as soon as you get to the character selection menu. There's a fancy new in-game store in which you can spend so-called Turbine Points that you earn by performing in-game events. Although the store feature is something of a mess at the moment, it allows you to buy a lot of the features that the free to play option takes away, and with all the patches that are constantly released, this cool new feature should be shipshape in no time.
You can download and play for free with plenty of options given to you, as well as a great storyline and good music.
Gameplay just like any other MMO and enough features are cut to make you feel like youíre really missing out.