by William Thompson
reviewed on NDS
“The board is set”
Refreshingly, the game allows gamers to choose between two control methods. The first method uses a combination of the XYAB buttons with the D-pad and shoulder buttons in a similar vein to how the game is played on the console versions. A second control method makes use of the DS’ stylus and the touch screen. Tapping an enemy will result in a standard attack, but more impressive attacking moves can be completed by sweeping the stylus towards the enemy or circling the stylus on the touch screen. Further attacks (and defensive moves) can be completed in conjunction with the shoulder buttons. Both methods work well so it is up to the gamer to decide which they prefer. Each of the three unit types has similar controls, so it is quite simple to learn each. The special units will have controls similar to their abilities. Gimli, for example acts like a warrior, whilst Gandalf is similar to a mage.
“The pieces are moving”
Graphically, Conquest is quite pleasing. Middle Earth is well presented and the movie clips at the beginning of the campaigns fit in nicely. The backgrounds have a dark ominous feeling about them which ties in well with the Lord of the Rings story. One minor gripe is with the battles themselves. Although evil units are highlighted by a red ring around them (when playing for good) and good units have a blue ring (when battling for Sauron), it is still often difficult to differentiate between the units, especially when there a large numbers of units on screen.
The layout of the screens is set out effectively, with the bottom screen showing the gameplay as well as health and mana bars, whilst the top screen shows the game map, highlighting important points as well as army sizes.
On the audio side of things, the game is fairly plain. The clang of swords, the firing of arrows and the groans of defeated foes are all standard fare. The movie clips do include sound from the movie and the background music works well with the Middle Earth feel.
“Thou shalt barely pass”
In all, Lord of the Rings: Conquest is a decent title to add to the growing list of Tolkien based games. Unfortunately, I found the campaign game to be rather short. There are only five campaign maps to gain access to, although it can be fun playing them through again as Sauron’s evil forces. Rewards are awarded to the player for performing various feats on the battleground and these are displayed as medals at the end of each map. This can certainly help to increase the game’s longevity.
Lord of the Rings fans will probably not be disappointed with Conquest, but for other gamers out there, this game is not much more than a licensed capture the flag game – albeit with a great license which leaves us at the bottom of Mt Doom with still a way to go on our journey.
No Pros and Cons at this time