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The Lord of the Rings: Conquest is an action game developed by Pandemic Studios and published by Electronic Arts. It is based on The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, and borrows many gameplay mechanics from Pandemic's Star Wars: Battlefront games. The game allows the player to play as both the forces of good and evil, but unlike The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth, the latter option is based around Sauron stopping the One Ring from being destroyed and using it to regain his lost power. On December 23, 2008, the PlayStation 3 demo was made available on the PlayStation Network while the Xbox 360 demo was released January 2, 2009.
Pandemic was aided by Weta Digital in developing the game. They provided many of their digital models, including the fell beasts. Pandemic also used elements that were cut from the films, and have taken inspiration from J. R. R. Tolkien's original fantasy novel, such as a level based loosely around Balin's conquest of Moria, in which Gimli attempts to retake the dwarven city from the orcs. Some inspiration was less direct: the armies of Rohan and Gondor decide not to attack Minas Morgul in the novel, but a level in the game is based on what might possibly have happened if they had. The game uses Howard Shore's score to the films as its soundtrack.
On March 16th 2010, the online multiplayer modes of The Lord of the Rings: Conquest were shut down for PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
In the "War of the Ring" campaign, containing eight levels, the player loosely follows the major battles of the films with some additions such as Moria and Minas Morgul. In the "Rise of Sauron" campaign, the player controls the forces of Sauron in a reworking of the storyline set over seven levels. In this alternative sequence of events, Frodo Baggins was corrupted by and failed to destroy the One Ring before being killed by the resurrected Witch-king, leading to Sauron subsequently conquering Middle-earth. Both campaigns are narrated by Hugo Weaving, who played Elrond in Peter Jackson's film trilogy.
The game uses a class-based character system, similar to the system found in the game Star Wars: Battlefront 2. There are four playable classes, barring heroes:
- Warrior: A melee combat unit which uses swordsmanship. Unlike the other classes, whose special attacks recharge over time, warriors can only gain strength by defeating enemies, which allows them to unleash more powerful attacks with a flaming sword, such as spinning to hit every adjacent enemy. They are the only class that can block or perform counterattacks with special moves. The warrior also has a throwing axe as a secondary, medium ranged weapon.
- Archer: A long ranged unit with a bow and arrow that plays like a third-person shooter. Different types of arrows can be equipped: fire arrows, which can knock down enemies and deal explosive damage; poison arrows, which slow enemies down and do damage over time, and the ability to fire a volley of three normal arrows at multiple enemies at once. They also have a kick for use in close-quarters, which knocks back the enemy. They can also hit stealthed Scouts with the multiple arrow skill. A headshot will allow the archer to kill most enemies in a single hit.
- Scout: A master in the art of moving unseen. The scout’s primary weapons are two daggers, and he has the ability to become temporarily invisible and assassinate units instantly from behind with a sneak attack. As a secondary attack, he carries satchel bombs filled with blasting powder as a ranged attack. The scout can also block melee attacks.
- Mage: A mage's primary attack is a bolt of lightning, which can be charged up for a more powerful attack that can also damage other enemies in close proximity to the target. He also wields a “firewall” attack, which creates an expanding circle of flames that will heavily damage if not kill enemies who are within the circle. For close range attacks, they have a shockwave attack, which knocks enemies back and allows the mage to finish them off with his staff. Mages can also heal allies. For defensive purposes, a mage can create a magical shield around himself to protect anyone inside from ranged attacks of any sort, provided the attacker is outside of the shield, which allows people to walk through. While the shield ability is active, the mage is unable to do anything else and is therefore highly vulnerable to melee attacks.
In the Nintendo DS version, gameplay features are greatly reduced. The Scout class is unavailable and mounts are non-existent. In addition, the playing perspective is isometric and only 6 maps were shipped with the game. All classes start out relatively weak, but fallen enemies will drop orbs that allow the player to power-up their current character’s attack power and speed, resetting after the player respawns. After a level is over, a post-game statistics screen will appear to show the player’s performance and to award them in-game achievements for their accomplishments (not allowing allies to die, for instance).
|Computer and Video Games||4/10|
|IGN|| Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 (US): 7.0/10|
Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 (UK): 6.0/10
|Official Xbox Magazine||4/10|
|PC Gamer UK||61%|
Reception for The Lord of the Rings: Conquest has been mixed to poor. The majority of reviews claim that the game lacks any of the epic feel of the movies or novel, CVG commenting on Sauron’s appearance in the War of the Last Alliance tutorial as akin to a “Scooby-Doo villain” chasing the player while “you backtrack and shoot arrows into his face.” Battles are criticised by many reviewers as being repetitive, becoming mere “hack ‘n ([sic]) slash scuffles.” CVG also commented on the lack of difficulty in killing some of the larger enemies, such as trolls and Oliphaunts, slating the quick-time events that allow them to be killed with a single blow, making them lose all of their intimidation potential when fighting against them and making them “frustrating” to control in multiplayer. Another common complaint is the “parody-style liberties” it takes with the Lord of the Rings license that would have “Tolkien break dancing in his grave.”
Other reviews were even more critical of the game, Games Radar stating that The Lord of the Rings: Conquest lacked even “one redeeming quality.” A common complaint was graphics well below modern standards, Games Radar likening the troll and Ent models to “claymation diarrhoea” and IGN stating that “friend and foe alike blend into one messy brown blur.” Most reviews cited poor characterisation and plot, most often in regards to Wormtongue’s participation in the battle of Isengard. Another common source of annoyance was the in-game announcer, who “bellows” objectives and hints to the player incessantly.
IGN criticised the “redundancy” of combat, stating that all four classes were essentially identical to play as, even between the two separate campaigns, and that heroes were merely “class characters on steroids.” They also complained about the combat system as a whole, in that the player can “[slam] buttons and [see] no result.” Other reviews also mentioned combat as being unrealistic, one example being if the player falls from a high position they “won’t so much as buckle at the knee” which gives a “weightless, videogamey feel” that contradicts the “grand scale… of the universe.” IGN did, however, praise the game for its “easily recognisable” locations, though said that the plot for the Rise of Sauron campaign could have been “stronger,” while Game Informer believing that there is no story of any kind “outside of clips stolen from the motion picture.” IGN commended the game’s musical score and claimed that “diehard fans of both online, class-based games and The Lord of the Rings” would enjoy the game, a view not shared by some other reviewers who believe that fans of the books would be the most likely to hate it. IGN also comments on the “universally bad” voice acting, specifically mentioning the impersonators for Aragorn and Gandalf.
The game’s AI is often cited as another weakness of the game, IGN listing two glitches, such as an enemy boss walking off a cliff and “saving us the bother of having to defeat him in combat.” Eurogamer stated that the player’s allies are “AI-impoverished,” stepping into the player’s line of fire “before sauntering off unscathed and oblivious,” while Game Informer says that the AI appears to be “tripping on acid as they stare blankly at walls and sunsets.” The lack of mid-level saves or a checkpoint system was also quoted as a weakness, forcing the player to restart a level if they fail to complete an objective.
Balance issues with the game are commented on by reviewers as needing work, IGN saying that the mage class is “clearly overpowered” and The A.V. Club believing that, due to the mage’s ability to heal himself, the class is “the correct choice 90 percent of the time.” The A.V. Club also stated that the scout class is “a griefer’s dream” in multiplayer. The Official Xbox Magazine cites objectives where the player must hold a position for a certain length of time while being besieged by enemy forces, a common problem being that, if the player is killed, by the time the player has respawned, the location has been overrun before they have a chance to fight back. Many reviewers also complained about the lack of enemies on screen, CVG saying that the “cardboard cut-outs in the background” are the most exciting part of a battle.
Multiplayer was regarded as a disappointment, the game’s servers “plagued by connection problems and lag,” even without the full sixteen players possible. They also cited a lack of bots as a weakness, the “wide, open levels [feeling] sparse and under-populated” without them. The A.V. Club slated multiplayer as “glitchy,” sometimes placing the player “in a one-on-one match of capture the flag.”
In the DS version of the game, AI problems are again mentioned, the player’s allies “[running] around like a Hobbit with its head cut off.” The lack of checkpoints and sub-standard graphics were also raised, along with lag during multiplayer and combat being unsatisfying, the reviewer not getting “a sense that you are clashing swords and armour with your opponents.” The review also points out that the game seems much as though “the licence is really just skinned onto capture the flag.”
The first downloadable content was released on January 29, 2009, for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It featured 2 maps for hero team deathmatch, which was not in the shipped game due to time constraints. This mode allows for arena-style battles with up to 3 friends. The maps themselves are merely broken down versions of levels in the campaigns, specifically sections of Osgiliath and Moria. OXM labelled the DLC as "another way to play a terrible game," stating that the combat was still fundamentally unbalanced, with ranged attacks still having an advantage and that the action was "even less dramatic when whittled down to four players."
A second pack of downloadable content was released February 26, 2009, on the same platforms which contained 3 new heroes (Boromir, Arwen and Gothmog), 2 new maps (Amon Hen and Last Alliance) and 2 new Hero Arenas (Minas Tirith and Weathertop). OXM, however, complained about the price tag of 800 Microsoft Points, stating that "the price rise is in sharp contrast to the free DLC EA trundled out" before.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Press Release (October 30, 2008). Prepare to Choose the Path of Good or Evil with Pandemic Studios' Lord of the Rings: Conquest. IGN. Retrieved on 2008-10-30.
- ↑ Goldstein, Maarten (2008-10-30). The Lord of the Rings: Conquest Conquers January. Shacknews. Retrieved on 2008-10-30.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 "The Lord of the Rings: Conquest," Previews, Game Informer Issue #183, pages 54–55. Retrieved on 2008-06-13.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 What is “THE LORD OF THE RINGS: CONQUEST”? Pandemic Studios’ Eric “Giz” Gewirtz Tells Us About It!. TheOneRing.net (2008-05-08). Retrieved on 2008-05-09.
- ↑ Conquest Demo Released. TheOneRing.net (2008-12-23). Retrieved on 2008-12-24.
- ↑ XBLM offers up LOTR: Conquest multiplayer demo. Xbox 360 Fanboy (2009-01-02). Retrieved on 2009-01-02.
- ↑ Online Play Shut Down. EA (2010-02-16). Retrieved on 2010-02-16.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 Parkin, Simon (2009-01-16). The Lord of the Rings: Conquest Review. Eurogamer. Retrieved on 2009-05-29.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 Hatfield, Daemon (2009-01-13). The Lord of the Rings: Conquest Review. IGN. Retrieved on 2009-05-29.
- ↑ The Lord of the Rings: Conquest Reviews. Game Rankings. Retrieved on 2009-01-23.
- ↑ Lord of the Rings: Conquest, The. Metacritic. Retrieved on 2009-01-26.
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 Robinson, Andy (2009-01-15). Gandalf, forgive me. Computer and Video Games. Retrieved on 2009-05-29.
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 Reiner, Andrew (2009-01-13). Worse than a job as a hobbit pedicurist. Game Informer. Retrieved on 2009-05-29.
- ↑ 14.0 14.1 14.2 Reiner, Andrew (2009-01-13). Worse than a job as a hobbit pedicurist. Game Informer. Retrieved on 2009-05-29.
- ↑ Watters, Chris (2008-12-09). The Lord of the Rings: Conquest Review. GameSpot. Retrieved on 2009-01-14.
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 16.2 Gapper, Michael (2009-01-16). One ring to screw it all up. Games Radar. Retrieved on 2009-05-29.
- ↑ 17.0 17.1 Gapper, Michael (2009-01-16). One ring to screw it all up. Games Radar. Retrieved on 2009-05-29.
- ↑ 18.0 18.1 Gapper, Michael (2009-01-16). One ring to screw it all up. Games Radar. Retrieved on 2009-05-29.
- ↑ 19.0 19.1 19.2 Ahearn, Nate (2009-01-13). The Lord of the Rings: Conquest Review. IGN. Retrieved on 2009-01-23.
- ↑ 20.0 20.1 20.2 Ahearn, Nate (2009-01-13). The Lord of the Rings: Conquest Review. IGN. Retrieved on 2009-05-29.
- ↑ 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 21.4 21.5 McCarthy, Dave (2009-01-16). Lord of the Rings Conquest UK Review. IGN. Retrieved on 2009-05-29.
- ↑ 22.0 22.1 McCarthy, Dave (2009-01-16). Lord of the Rings Conquest UK Review. IGN. Retrieved on 2009-05-29.
- ↑ 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 Ahearn, Nate (2009-01-16). The Lord of the Rings: Conquest Review. IGN. Retrieved on 2009-05-29.
- ↑ 24.0 24.1 24.2 Talbot, Ben (2009-01-16). The Lord of the Rings: Conquest. OXM. Retrieved on 2009-05-29.
- ↑ Rossignol, Jim (2009-02-12), Lord of the Rings Conquest, PC Gamer UK
- ↑ Teti, John (2009-01-26). Lord Of The Rings: Conquest. A.V. Club. Retrieved on 2009-05-29.
- ↑ "OXM UK Hero Arena Bonus DLC Review". Official Xbox Magazine UK (Future Publishing) (45): 103. 2009-03-12.
- ↑ Hero Arena Bonus. IGN (2009-02-24). Retrieved on 2009-05-29.
- ↑ Today’s Lord of the Rings DLC will cost you. OXM (2009-02-26). Retrieved on 2009-05-29.