Friday, February 11, 2011

Video Game Review: Lord of the Rings Conquest

Let's talk about The Lord of the Rings: without a doubt the greatest fantasy series of all time, as well as my favorite movie trilogy of all time. Naturally, there are many, many video games based on it. These games are interesting though, in that they are predominantly based on the movies but are actually for the most part pretty good games. Some are even very good. For instance, there is the Battle for Middle Earth series, a group of Real Time Strategy (RTS) games that are very good, and the second two actually explore new stories. However, probably the game I have played the most that is based on Tolkien's original story is Lord of the Rings Conquest. This is a game in the vein of games like Star Wars: Battlefront, where you take part in the major battles of the story, but as a random soldier, only occasionally taking the role of one of the heroes. This game is the topic of my review.

Gameplay is very simple: all units in the game fall under one of a handful of categories (character class), and potentially under some secondary categories (sort of like a prestige class). The character classes you will see most often are grunt, warrior, archer, scout, and mage. You cannot play as a grunt, they are the people who come at you (or at your enemies; you've got grunts too) in swarms, but die in about two hits. They do little damage and cannot defend in any way shape or form, they are mostly for building up combos and getting in your way (I'm not necessarily talking about the enemy grunts here). The other four classes are the ones you can play as.

Let's start with warriors. They are my favorite class and the easiest to play as. Naturally, the warrior's job is to wade into crowds with a big sword cutting enemies down in large numbers. He can potentially string out a six-hit combo, made up of light attacks, medium attacks, and heavy attacks, as well as adding a special attack to the end of the combo. The special moves come in the form of a meter in the corner of the screen that fills up as you kill enemies. The special moves involve lighting your sword on fire (How?) and doing one of the three types of attacks. The light attack makes you rush around while on fire, but is useless. The medium attack makes you spin around with a flaming sword, and is very useful for clearing out crowds. The heavy attack, however, is the most used, because it is one of the only way the warrior has of breaking through guards. Oh yeah, warriors and scouts are capable of blocking, and as long as you hold this guard and do not move, no melee attack is capable of harming you (except for the aforementioned guard breaker, and I believe one other move). Finally, the warrior has a throwing axe, which causes any enemies hit by it to fly backwards, but is not very useful because it does little damage, has to recharge, cannot be put away (once you press and hold the button you have to throw the axe), and there are other reasons which I will get into later. Warriors are my standard for the difficulty of the game. There are three difficulty modes: I fought through the easiest with only a warrior (except for when I was using heroes), but on the second two I needed increasingly more strategy and used the other classes more often, which I thought was a good measure. Next are archers. Obviously, they use a bow. They have no recharge time for their ranged attack, which can be enhanced by a zooming in, but do for their three special moves. These are flaming arrow (which causes an explosion, the most useful), the poison arrow (which causes damage over time and slows the target, perfect for fighting warriors), and the multi-shot (targets three people automatically, it's completely useless, for reasons I'll explain later). They can also kick for a weak melee attack, which is actually used against mages, not melee fighters (because they will just kill you), but I'll explain its use later. Scouts are my least used class. They are just faster warriors with weaker attacks and longer combos. They also have a bomb which is completely because it flies in an arc, meaning that the targeting retical completely inaccurate. Their energy bar constantly fills up because scouts can turn invisible, which drains your energy. The main use of scouts is that they can instantly kill any unit (including heroes) by turning invisible and backstabbing them. Finally, there are mages. They employ lightning, which can be charged into chain lightning. They can also heal themselves and other units, make shockwaves, and launch fireballs which form pools of fire on the ground for a short amount of time. They are probably the second most useful class. They can also do melee attacks with their staff, and put up a shield which prevents them from doing anything but moving, but protects anything within from all ranged weaponry (except those which come from within the shield). This is the reason that the archer's kick is used against mages, because this shield makes all of his other attacks useless. This does not just apply to stuff within the shield, but anything behind the mage using the shield is protected as well. There is nothing more annoying than trying to shoot something only for a mage not even in your sight to pull up a shield and force you to waste your fire arrow. Actually, ranged combat is a huge problem with this game. More times than shields get in your way, your own people will get in your way, making your ranged weapons useless unless you stand in front. I'm sorry, but isn't the point of being an archer to stand in the back, not the front?

Anyway, there are a few more types of units. Both sides have a giant unit (good has Ents, and evil has Trolls), which can wipe out large number of troops. Both are easily taken out by warriors who jump on their back and take out half of their health. There are also heroes, who you both fight and control on occasion, and captains, who you never control, but are not more than powered up units.

The main problem with this game, however, is that the game is heavily stacked against you. The enemy AI is far better than the allied AI, so all of your friends are complete idiots, while your enemy's best soldiers attack you, since if you die a handful of times the entire battle is lost. I understand this if it is Aragorn or Gandalf, but some random soldier? Also, some objectives are ridiculously hard, which I will get into in another post. In all, however, the gameplay is very good, if challenging at times.

The levels, however, are a major problem with this game, and will be addressed shortly.

1 comment:

  1. The battle stuff here sounds incredibly influenced by the old Quake capture the flag stuff. Which of course it should be since that original capture the flag is still the best I've played.