The Lord of the Rings: Conquest Xbox 360 Video Game Review
The Lord of the Rings franchise has shown us that war is a messy affair and Conquest is not the clean and spotless adventure we were hoping for. The game pieces of Middle Earth are in place, but the drama doesn't play out as hoped because of several problems. Conquest barely gets a passing mark.
The good parts
You can play the game as either a good character or a bad character, it's up to you this time whether you're going to follow the light or walk a shadowy edge.
They at least included many epic battles staged in burial chambers, on vast open plains, and assaulting the burning ramparts of Minas Tirith that provide visual candy that can immerse your senses at times. The filthy industrial areas of Isengard, the crumbling walls of Osgiliath, and the Pelennor fields are especially nice environments that are engaging and interesting to play in.
Parts that should be improved
Unfortunately the battle results you obtain as you fight your way through the various adventures is due more to your button pushing skills combined with luck than tactics or strategy you will employ on the battlefield. You can plan, scheme and be as good a fighter as possible, but you'll still get killed just because of the random factor. You will be suddenly thrown off a cliff by a mysterious force as you move nearby, your character animation will freeze in place because the game fails to recognize your move inputs and leaves you in a crowd of merciless enemy, or when you're being overwhelmed by hordes of the enemy and your AI teammates are oblivious to your plight.
The ESPN-like announcer who comments on the battles should be given to the Orcs for dinner, not sure who came up with this idea, but they might consider throwing him to the Orcs also.
The graphical story
The dark and foreboding look of Peter Jackson's original film inspiration has been transmitted well to all of the environments in Pandemic's rendition of The Lord of the Rings. There are many memorable scenes in the campaign that will put you back in the movies for a moment of time, before the problems with this title pull you back into reality.
The visual effects as the characters do their flashy moves is nice, it reminded me of Dynasty Warriors when I first saw it, and it does catch the eyes as you're playing and keeps the entertainment value a little higher.
Sounds in the game
The voice acting is outstanding and definitely adds drama to the various moments through out the adventure, even if you have heard most of the dialogue before, it still stirs the heart to hear the words again.
The sound effects work with the graphics to immerse you in the world you remember pretty good at times, often giving you audible clues and providing funny moments that will make you smile.
The story line
The campaign mode allows you to play as a good character on the side of the light or an evil character in the forces of Mordor in the Rise of Sauron campaign, which is an alternate story line involving the failure of the ring bearer and the following battle for Middle Earth with the forces of good.
Want to play again?
The single player mode is a difficult and often boring adventure that requires skill and luck to defeat. The campaign mode can be a frustrating and agonizingly slow adventure to play through by yourself, but still has some entertainment value, especially if you play a devilishly fun evil character. You and four friends can play using a four player split screen option that can be very confusing and deadly at times, and there's is a option for up to 16 players to compete at once on line.
You will begin the game as a rank and file archer, warrior, mage or scout with particular skills depending on the class and side you choose to play, and later in the game maybe given a chance to play as one of the heroes. The classes are balanced to provide good game play using their various strengths and weaknesses that can be challenging and engaging to implement successfully.
The bottom line
The Lord of the Rings: Conquest comes from source material that makes one think it might be the perfect vehicle to finally transmit the entertainment of a popular and successful film to interactive video entertainment, but unfortunately it fails to deliver the goods. Even if we ignore the game play issues with combat The Lord of the Rings: Conquest wouldn't offer the excitement and entertainment level expected of the first game to grasp the One Ring and deliver a level of entertainment equal to the movie it's based on.