by Rook & KingWilly
reviewed on PC
I am not normally a huge fan of RPG's. Yeah, I've tested out a few of them, but my questing normally involves personal quests such as "Shoot all the Nazis before they shoot me", "Destroy all the cities of those pesky Mongols" or "Score more goals than Brazil to win the World Cup". When it comes to MMO's, the story is similar; I've normally spent more time downloading games than I have actually played. But when I was given the opportunity to test out Turbine's new MMORPG based on Tolkien's Lord of the Rings world, I jumped at the chance. I was a huge fan of The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy after reading the novels and then watching the trilogy of movies and wanted to take my enjoyment of the series to the online gaming world. That is where Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar comes in.
Lord of the Rings: Shadows of Angmar is the first MMO based on JR Tokens amazing and classic epic saga based in the world of Middle Earth. Using the momentum created by the Hollywood rendition of the venerable saga, Turbine and Midway entertainment now brings the world of Middle Earth and all its charms and strife to the player.
Being a novice to MMORPG's, I found Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO) easy to set up. Once I received my Beta registration code, everything was plain sailing. There were some largish upgrade files that needed to be downloaded before I could start, but after that I was ready to select my character. This was probably the toughest part of the installation phase. There are a number of races to play as including, Man (or woman), Elf (or elf-female), Dwarf and in my case Hobbit. I thought I'd like to put myself in Bilbo or Frodo's (rather large) shoes. Then after choosing what race I wanted to be, I had to choose a class. Now, as mentioned previously, I am a relative novice to RPG's and again wasn't sure which to choose. Champion sounded good, but would that be the easy way to go? In the end I went for Guardian, as again I wanted to be Frodo. I'm not sure if this was going to be a good choice, but I thought I'd give it a go anyway. After the initial choices were made, I had to give my character a name and determine my little Hobbit's features. This was all very simple to do, with a huge range of character features available.
Once installation is complete, which may be a lengthy process due to constant patching tendencies of fledgling MMOs, the player will be presented with the choices of character creation. Turbine/Midway has found a wonderful middle ground in the character creation process. Character creation offers a fair amount of customization for individual characters but not so much that it is an overwhelming task to complete. The real surprise came not in the form of how many hair styles or face templates were available to the player, but instead how the character's origin background played a part in the character's physical appearance. The humans for example, can have a choice in origin of hailing from Breeland, Gondor, Rohan, and the Dale-lands. In each case, the physical appearance will shift slightly and certain customization options no longer become available. Traditionally, the men and women of Rohan have fair skin and lighter colour hair where a character from Gondor will have a much darker complexion. The same apply to the realms of the Elves, Dwarves and Hobbits as well. In many cases, unless you are intimately familiar with the Tolkien books or the Middle Earth paper and pencil role playing game from years back, many of the races' homelands will be unknown at first. That is just the first taste of the history and lore enriched background of Lord of the Rings.
Now, I thought, I get to the good part... and I was right. LOTRO is great. The moment you step into the LOTRO world, you can't but feel a part of it. The first thing that hit me was the sound quality. I could have been sitting in my lounge room watching The Fellowship of the Ring or The Two Towers on my TV with the surround sound turned up. The music makes the atmosphere just that more 'Hobbitesque'. The sound combined with the graphics just places you as part of the game. I had opted to select the optimal game graphic configuration as worked out by the game, and even though it wasn't set at the highest level, the scenery is just stunning. I spent more time looking at the scenery at one point than I should have been, because my poor little Hobbit ran into a dangerous spider. No biggie, though. A bit of slashing soon does the trick. Hills, trees, rivers, paths all give the game that authentic Tolkien look.
No Pros and Cons at this time