Review: Lord of the Rings: Conquest allows players to re-enact key scenes from the Peter Jackson's film trilogy over the course of two campaigns. The first campaign, which begins with the Battle of Helm's Deep and ends with the Battle of the Black Gate, loosely follows the events of the film and casts players in the role of one of several class of hero and, as often as not, one of the stars of the film.
Several stages into the game, the initial novelty begins to wear thin, and the entire affair becomes a waiting game. There's not a leveling mechanism or an experience system in place, so the battles dulls to monotony swiftly after advancing past Helm's Deep. Luckily, that monotony doesn't last long, because the initial campaign, though frought with difficulty (most of which arises from the combat system itself), is relatively short and easy. Think the final levels of Halo 3 set on "easy."
The game's control system is boring and occationally frustrating. The bored is the result of players being given a choice between four classes, (archer, mage, scout, or warrior) each of which attacks using the basically the same key combination with very little differentiation between even the different attack's effects. The frustration comes with the game's primary combat mechanics: knock opponents to the ground. All too frequently, players will find themselves helpless and flailing on their back with no way to speed the process of getting up. The situation is exascerbated by an inability to to tell where injuries are coming from.
Just about the time you're thinking of giving up single-player mode for something more interesting, the game begins to redeem itself. This is the beginning of the much-market second campaign. In this second campaign, players, cast as the Witch-King, give the half-pint Hobbit a right-hook and make off with the Ring. From this point on, players get to wallow in evil as they push the forces of good back through the previous levels to where the trouble all started, The Shire. Once there, the game reaches it climax with Sauron burning the Shire to the ground and butchering the panicked little Hobbits despite all Gandalf's attempts to interveen.
The truth is, by the time the Shire is really and truly the high point of this entire game. After hours of boredom and irritation over the game's lack of imagination and the combat system impeding progress at every turn, players will welcome the tear-wrenchingly riddiculous bouts of killing small, defenseless creatures.