CHUDTIP- Ent shambling your way? “Beat them or burn them. They go up pretty easy”


When we played this at the Community Day we noted the cheap hits
enemies would perform on you- how you can get knocked off your feet so
easily and then beaten on without mercy. There is also the issues of
ledges in levels such as the Mines of Moria. It’s ridiculously easy to
fall off them to your death, and it can even happen in the middle of a
combo or a backstab as the Scout, which is just ridiculous. There
should have been a system in place to make you stop at the ledge, and
then only if you pushed further will you fall off. Every friggin’
platform game does it, why not this?

There was recently a debate on the boards about the merits of QTEs (Quick Time Events, the God of War-style
cinematic button press moments). I’m of the view that, when implemented
correctly, they’re fun as hell and add a lot to the experience. This
wouldn’t be the game for me to present as evidence. Every big creature
in the game (Trolls and Ents and Oliphaunts) can be taken out easily
with a QTE. It’s silly and frustrating for the person playing as them,
but most maddeningly of all they don’t do anything with the camera
during those bits. Part of the fun of God of War
is seeing close up views of your character dishing out death and
destruction. Here, when you kill an Olyphaunt with Legolas- it LOOKS
like he shot him in the head with arrows, but I can’t tell because it’s
so damn far away. Wasted potential.

For such an epic story, the
game feels decidedly un-epic. The levels feel cramped and small, and
even the boards that are set on massive open areas (like Pellenor
Fields) have invisible boundaries that force you into a small area,
while you look at the intense background battle raging just beyond your
reach and wish you could be on that side.

It doesn’t help that
your teammates are absolute idiots, as well. They’ll just mindlessly
walk off ledges, or stare at you stupidly when you need healing or
protection from arrows. It makes the campaign doubly hard.
 


CHUDTIP-
If you jump in an Oliphaunt, please make sure you’re careful when you
swing your tusks around. There’s nothing more irritating than when a
noob manages to kill his entire team with one swipe.
.



But throw everything I’ve said out the window if you’re playing online
with a good team. The multiplayer is fantastic, a compelling, addictive
time that shows you that the gameplay is sound, it’s just the stupid
computer that messes it all up. There are plenty of different modes to
play in and the battles are fast and keeps you on your toes.

It’s so damn good that I had to reconsider the score I’d given the game, which was initially lower.

THE PRESENTATION

The
character models are pretty fantastically detailed. I would have taken
a little less detail if it could have meant more characters on screen,
but such is life. The game looks great.

As far as the music, well it uses Shore’s stuff from the movie, so how do you think it sounds?


CHUDTIP-
When you have a choice to play as a Hero class, take it. They’re super
powerful and you’ll rack up an insane body count in no time. Even the
lamer characters (like The Mouth, here) are badass
.


Hugo
Weaving’s the only actor that lends his voice and he narrates all the
cutscenes, even the reconstituted ones that make for the evil campaign.
(Lord of the Rings
buffs might get a little annoyed at those, actually, because we’re able
to place where all the film footage comes from.) The rest of the voice
actors range from tolerable to terrible, although of course this ain’t
exactly a dialogue-driven game.
 
THE REPLAY


The replay’s all in the multiplayer. There are multiple modes- from the Battlefront standard
of Conquest, to Capture the Ring (CTF), and of course, Team
Deathmatches. Even more fun are the Hero Deathmatches which allow the
use of every hero or villain in the game in an all-out brawl. It’s just
amusing to see Wormtounge backstab Gimli.

All the games are 8 on
8, which really isn’t enough for a full-on battle feel, but plenty
enough that you’ll always have enemies to face. The games get downright
hectic on some of the boards, and you’ll soon learn how to use each
class to your advantage.

The achievements and trophies are
actually pretty fun, and really the only reason to redo missions from
the campaign. A lot of them force you to use certain characters to kill
certain foes- such as Gandalf vs. the Balrog, or Éowyn vs the
Witch-king. The best way to do this, of course, is by playing through
with a friend in co-op (either 4-player splitscreen or 2 players
online.) The co-op adds a lot to the campaign experience since you
won’t have to rely on your absolutely idiotic computer teammates, but
effectively dumbs down the difficulty to nothing. I breezed through the
few levels I played on co-op.



CHUDTIP- Dogpiling on Gandalf- never a good idea. .


THE VERDICT

Consider
the campaign an (extended) tutorial for the real, multiplayer game, and
you’ll have a ton of fun here. Playing through with a friend improves
things but it’s not compelling enough to truly be memorable. Even the
evil portion of the campaign just feels like the good one all over
again.

But get a good group of friends together for online
matches, and you’ll find all the fun to be had. There’s no excuse for
the weak single player game, but you could do a helluva lot worse for a
multiplayer experience.

7.0 out of 10