The Lord of the Rings is an epic fantasy that I am sure you have all seen, played and dreamed about. The Lord of the Rings: Conquest allows players to leap into any scene from the films, and let you amuse yourself in the battle in any way you desire us. You can play almost any main character or creature from the movies ranging from the Balrog, Oliphaunts, Cave-Trolls and of course the heroís of The Lord Of The Rings franchise.
One of the most intriguing features of the game is that it comes with two different campaigns to play through with one being a "What if?" scenario. In this scenario, Sauron regains control of the ring, twisting the plot into a totally different direction. Before you reach that point however, you start with the 'good' campaign that follows the movies from the beginning to the end. Once that has been completed, the 'evil' campaign starts, offering you Pandemics view on what would have happened if the ring had not ended up in the burning lava. In this 'alternate ending' you get to play as the villains of Middle Earth and Ring wraiths, Saruman, Orcs and Sauron become your tools to desecrate the world. This is a big step for Lord of the Rings games. They have always followed the original story or stayed close to it and no one has ever attempted to continue the tale.
The Lord of the Rings: Conquest is played in a similar fashion to Star Wars Battlefront 1 and 2. For those that have not played either of these, the Battlefront games offer wide open battlefields and the freedom to do whatever it takes to win the battle. Depending on the level you are playing, you begin by selecting either your class or your hero. After doing so you jump straight into the action and this is when the excitement begins. You can engage in melee combat, ranged combat and take control of other heroes and villains that are duking it out on the map.
The classes are a varied mix, each with their own unique abilities and in most cases are self explanatory. The Warrior class is the weapons specialist, the Archer is best applied from a distance using bows and other ranged weapons, the Scout is a stealthy assassin and the Mage is a skilled magic user that also as a knack for healing. Conquest is a brutally fast-paced game that rarely gives you a breather. When you die, you are immediately thrown back into the action to continue the fight. Never a dull moment here!
The gameplay mechanics are simple, but enjoyable. The combat system has many subtle tweaks to keep the game playable. One such tweak is that your foes will not just crowd around you as you engage their buddies one by one. This often-seen AI glitch can drive the best of us insane. Instead they give you space by moving on to fight soldiers near you, making the whole epic war scene look so much more realistic and movie-like.
Chasing the midget
The graphics look okay but do seem a little dated. While that would still make a fantastic looking Wii game (for which the game is not coming out), Xbox 360, PS3 and PC gamers are used to more these days. Having said that Pandemic are still working on the game and nothing is final yet. If Pandemic can smooth out the animations and tidy up the frame rate, playing through the game should be a whole lot of fun.
The game allows up to 16 players to fight online and up to four players to play cooperatively through the main campaign either online or via four-player split-screen. There will be a number of multiplayer modes but Pandemic is not giving out too much information on these just yet. One of the modes we do know about is a mode where one player is Frodo while the others play ring wraiths, this is pretty self explanatory really, chase the midget!
Riding the Oliphaunt
Despite the slightly dated graphics, The Lord of the Rings: Conquest is looking very promising; its twisted storyline and huge epic battle scenes are sure to get your adrenaline pumping. Riding a huge Oliphaunt is awesome and fighting Sauron himself is simply spectacular. Switch roles at any time and become the Balrog and start catapulting hobbits at your foes. The game offers more than enough variety and I just canít wait to play online or co-op in the Lord of the Rings universe. I will certainly be picking up a copy and enter the world of Middle Earth this January.