The Lord of the Rings: Conquest

August 17, 2009 by Aaron Green  
Filed under Nintendo DS, Playstation 3, Reviews, Xbox 360

Overview

Title: The Lord of the Rings: Conquest
Release Date: January 13, 2009 (US), January 16, 2009 (EU), January 15, 2009 (AU)
Developer/Publisher: Pandemic Studios/Electronic Arts
Genre: Action
Platform[s]: Nintendo DS, PC, Playstation 3, Xbox 360

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Storyline

By now we all know the plot of LoTR, even those who haven’t explored the books or seen the epic movies must have a general idea and let’s face it Peter Jackson owes us more than he knows.  Why?  Well, since the release of the first film we gamers have been drowned in tie-ins related to his vision of the franchise.  Conquest is basically a game which borrows heavily from the films’ most epic battles, plot-wise there’s nothing new to be seen as each level begins and ends with movie footage accompanied by narration from Hugo Weaving.  So, to sum-up – no true storyline exists but rather recycled footage conveniently tacked on with a familiar celebrity narrative as an overlay.            

Gameplay

Those who’ve played the Star Wars: Battlefront games will notice a lot of familiarity in both the single-player and multiplayer of LoTRC.  This is unsurprising considering the developer yet somewhat disappointing too.

 In campaign mode there are two campaigns, this is something we’ve come to expect particularly after Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth.  As I’m sure you’ve guessed one is focused on the forces of good and the other evil.  Both sides essentially have the same gameplay which is just repetitive battering of the same sequence of buttons but split across four classes (Warrior, Archer, Mage and Scout).  There are minor variations between each but nothing significant.  Then there’s the game’s biggest selling point, the heroes which are nothing but the previously mentioned classes with boosted statistics and familiar faces of which Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas, Frodo, Sauron, the Balrog, the Ringwraiths and Saruman are but a few to name.  Character models are ugly and often distracting (much on-par with the PS2 version of The Two Towers) and combat is for lack of a better word ‘clunky’, which isn’t helped by enemies who just adore running into your attacks then finally there are the character movements which are well… very poorly animated to say the least.  General gameplay is far below the standard set by other big hitters in the genre, if it’s a taste of Middle Earth you’re after then I’d suggest LoTR: the Return of the King which was designed and executed in a much better way than Conquest, shame.

 It is often a sign when a game is built with such simplicity that multiplayer is the focus, thus justifying less animations etc because it decreases the rate data transfers over the servers, theoretically nullifying lag.  I believe that in development Pandemic Studios probably had this in mind especially considering LoTR Conquest’s immediate connection with Star Wars: Battleground.  However, despite the multiplayer being the best feature of the game it fails to offer anything truly redeeming.  The idea is that sixteen players (eight-per-side) battle it out through Team Deathmatch, Capture the One Ring and Conquest modes.  We all know how TDM works and it takes little (if any) imagination to guess what Capture the One Ring is all about but its Conquest mode where any real fun can be found!  Basically there are points in each map where players must capture to increase score and earn heroes; it’s a little bit like Call of Duty’s domination only with a tad more variety and perks.         

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Graphics

In terms of film location and the like, LoTRC is spot on visually and an absolute pleasure to see but as mentioned earlier, character models and animations are hideous – sometimes on par with early Playstation 2 titles even.

Sound

The soundtrack is borrowed from the movies so obviously it’s the same fantastic score we know and love however voice acting from the heroes is terrible, as are the grunts heard during attacks and such – Hugo Weaving (though mostly brilliant) even sounds bored on occasion as he voices the familiar Elf Elrond.

Overall Score & Replayability

Experienced gamers will have conquered the game in well under nine hours and apart from a scenario where the player gets to kill Gimli in the Mines of Moria there really isn’t much in the way of originality – it’s hardly worth playing the game once let alone again afterwards.  Multiplayer is sure to keep young people entertained as is it likely to keep some busy during a dull weekend at home but beyond that there isn’t really much to offer.  Fans may find a great rental, that’s all – I’m sorry guys this just isn’t a keeper!