The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age is a 2004 role-playing game by EA Games for all three of the late sixth-generation game consoles. The player controls a core group of characters that are used during the adventure, leveling up according to experience gained from battles and quests.
The plot of The Third Age involves Berethor, Captain of the Citadel Guard of Gondor, who is traveling to Rivendell to find Boromir, one of the nine members of the Fellowship of the Ring. On his way to Rivendell, he is attacked by a group of Ringwraiths and almost killed, but is rescued by a female elf named Idrial, who is a servant of Galadriel. They share a vision of Gandalf the Grey, who tells them that Boromir is traveling with the Fellowship, and that they are headed in the direction of Moria. On Berethor's way to Moria, he meets with Elegost, a Dúnedain Ranger not entirely unlike Aragorn. Following that, they meet with Hadhod, a dwarf who is also loosely based on Gimli. After Boromir's death, the group is charged with helping what is left of the Fellowship to save the world of men in Middle-earth. In another change to the plotline, they help Gandalf to slay the Balrog at the Bridge of Khazad-dûm. They continue through the land of Rohan, meeting along the way Morwen, a lady of Rohan who has lost her family to Saruman's attacks, and Éoaden, a member of Théoden's Royal Guard. They arrive at Helm's Deep and aid Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli to fight off the Uruk-hai as they storm the fortress. After this they journey to Osgiliath, and with the help of Faramir, defeat Gothmog the orc commander, as well as several Ringwraiths, where a major spoiler is revealed. They eventually fight in Minas Tirith and finally help Éowyn defeat the Witch-king on the Pelennor Fields. After defeating the 8 remaining Nazgûl, the party heads to Mordor, where they face off with the Eye of Sauron itself, and destroy it. After this, the game is beaten.
- Berethor was banished from the realm of Gondor by Denethor after showing cowardice in a battle at Osgiliath. This cowardice was not his fault, as a Nazgûl stabbed him with a Morgul Blade, causing him to lose his mind and flee. He begins to remember it when Éaoden, who also fought at the battle, remembers him being there, and all the rest come to him in the presence of the Witch-king. A free wanderer, he came under the control of Saruman, who gave him orders to seek out Boromir, "for he possesses an item of great value to me, the One Ring", to quote the game. Saruman deluded Berethor so that neither he nor the player of the game know that he is under Saruman's control until the Helm's Deep chapter, when Saruman is overthrown. Until this point however, there is absolutely no indication of this; Berethor behaves like a noble Gondorian, not one possessed by Saruman. He can wield both a sword and shield.
- Idrial of Lothlórien encounters Berethor as he is traveling to Rivendell in search of Boromir. She saves him from the Ringwraiths and accompanies him for the rest of the game as a love interest before Morwen joins the game, and a little after. Idrial only wields one sword, whether it is elven or not. She is a servant of Galadriel and she uses spirit powers in combat, mainly healing powers and water based attacks, similar to the ring that Galadriel bears Nenya and a water stallion attack similar to Arwen
- Elegost is a ranger of the Dunedain and is friends of Hadhod. He is encountered in The Pass of Cahadaras when Berethor attempts to rescue him from attacking wargs (although Elegost dispatches them easily enough without help.) He accompanies Berethor to an elven healing altar where he tells him of a Mordor orc, his friends, Hadhod (who isn't named yet), the battle in the pass, and the map given to them from Elrond at the Council of Elrond. He wields both a bow and a sword, but in gameplay, he only uses his bow.
- Hadhod's sons were killed by Trolls in Moria and he had a dream of once owning the fabled Mithril Warhammer of Helm Hammerhand, a king of Rohan who accepted this warhammer (though rarely used it) forged by the Dwarves as a sign of friendship between the people of Rohan and the Dwarves. Hadhod has since occasionally tried to find information about its resting place. Hadhod is in fact distantly related to Gimli, himself being a member of the Clan of Fundin, who was father to Balin and Dwalin. Hadhod can wield either a battle axe, or a war hammer.
- Morwen was originally a woman of Gondor. She was pledged to be married to a soldier (later revealed to be Berethor) but was banished to Rohan along with him and set up a new life in this kingdom. Chance reunites the two in the quest — about the only bit of romance in the game, although Berethor and Idrial kiss twice. She can wield two hand axes at one time.
- Eoaden is a Rohirrim Outrider, and is the last of the party to join. he joins after you rescue him from 2 wargs who attack him (much in the same way as Gamling and Háma who are attacked in the movie) and proceeds to Helm's Deep with you. After the battle, the group heads for Osgiliath where Eaoden reveals that he fought in the earlier battle for the city (with Boromir when the east bank was lost) then remembers Berethor being there when he says "They shall find us of superior quality". When he hears this his memory comes back to him and reveals that not only had Berethor and himself fought there before, but that Berethor fled from battle (making them the two soldiers who survived the earlier battle with Boromir and Faramir by swimming across the Anduin with them.) Eoaden wields a spear, but once far enough into the game, he can start using a small buckler.
List of locations
- Eregion: The first location the company visits. It is the land next to Rivendell on the way to the Misty Mountains. Some important sites to visit are the Elven outpost, the Elven sanctuary, and the Moria Western Gate. The Boss Battle is against the Watcher in the Water. Enemies: Orcs, Troll, Watcher in the Water, Wargs.
- Western Moria: The group travels through the halls of Moria, intent on reaching Balin's Tomb, to meet up with the Fellowship. The final battle is a fight with goblins in a hall in Balin's Tomb. Enemies: Goblins, Watcher in the Water, Wargs, Trolls.
- Eastern Moria: The group finds and escapes Balin's Tomb. They make for the Bridge of Khazad-dûm to escape, killing nine Trolls of Moria. The area is left after defeating the Balrog (with Gandalf's help). Enemies: Balrog, Trolls, Goblins.
- East Emnet Gullies: The group breaks upon this natural maze of rock. They proceed to find scattered Elf Scouts, who guard the borders of Rohan. The final battle is fought against a band of Uruk-hai Scouts who have captured a Rider of Rohan. Enemies: Warg, Orcs, Uruk-hai.
- Plains of Rohan: The challenges in this vast plain primarily involve finding Rohan Soldiers. Near the beginning, the player meets Morwen, a warrior searching for her family. Once the soldiers are gathered, they travel to the village of Snowbourne, which is besieged by Uruk-hai and Men of Dunland. The party activates switches to open the gates. They find Gríma Wormtongue and do battle against him and his two Uruk Bodyguards. After traveling through a series of caves they find Morwen's family dead as well as the final party member, a Rohan Outrider named Éaoden. The "boss" is Sharku, commander of Isengard's Warg Riders.
- Helm's Deep: The area begins with the party talking to various members of the Fellowship. Once night falls, a series of lengthy battles begin with Legolas, Gimli, and Aragorn, battling Uruks that are invading the keep. They do such things as help Legolas keep the wall free of Uruks, help Gimli defend the breach in the wall, and help Aragorn hold the main gate. The exit battle is fought against trolls and Uruk Berserkers. Once left, the area can't be restored to the daytime version.
- Osgiliath: The area begins with you fighting a series of set battles culminating with you fighting Gothmog, Orc commander, for the first time (with Faramir by your side). Then you set about helping out Faramir's Rangers who are ill equipped at this sort of fighting, You soon meet Gothmog again but Faramir is still by your side. Soon after this Idrial is kidnapped and dropped on an island in the middle of the Osgiliath river. The next part of the game shows Idrial fighting by herself and the other five fighting their way through the sewers to save her. In the end only Berethor can reach Idrial in time and they both fight the Witch-king, who has made a timely arrival to kill Idrial. During fighting, Berethor discovers he cannot hurt the Witch-king, as he still has a piece of Morgul Blade stuck inside him. After (painfully) removing it, the pair fight off the Witch-king and escape the city on a commandeered Orc landing raft.
- Minas Tirith: The party has finally reached the City of Kings, and just in time to fight the city's invaders. The party has to fight its way up the city levels to the Throne Room at the top, to recover the Banner of Elendil, to restore the morale of the defenders. Upon reaching the top level, the party witnesses Denethor (flaming) run screaming off the parapet. Before this they must fight the Witch-king again, with Gandalf's aid, to gain entry to the Throne Room. Inside the Throne Room, they fight a series of small battles with Orcs and Easterlings and finally retrieve the Banner of Elendil, just in time for the Rohirrim to arrive on the Pelennor Fields, to save the day.
- Pelennor Fields: This area sees you fighting a new tougher type of orc and coming face to face with multiple mûmakil (at one point you have to face two at the same time). You aid Éowyn in fighting the dismounted Witch-king, and kill him. You also aid Aragorn fight off the remaining eight Nazgûl, with the help of the Army of the Dead. The final battle is even more non-canon than the rest: somehow the party has gotten to the top of Barad-dûr and must square off with the Eye of Sauron itself.
The game also includes an evil mode for each area where you can fight as the scripted (not random) enemies and win unique and often powerful items for your team.
The story was not regarded as one of the game's finer points by many video game reviewers.Template:ME-fact However, the fact that the story was not more expansive or creative was due largely to the fact that the publisher and developer, EA Games, owned the rights to the The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy and not the book of the same name - thus the only devices available to the creators were what could be found in the movies, or something in neither book nor movie. Thus everything had to, in some way, be tied to the movies in order to prevent a lawsuit from the owners of the rights to the book. Each of the game's main characters was based on a minor character or extra from the films.Template:ME-fact
The game's combat system was, by and large, very similar to Final Fantasy X's Conditional Turn-Based Battle System (CTB), where the players have turns in which they can attack. It also featured a 'level-up' system much akin to Final Fantasy X-2. Once again, some reviewers thought this to be derivative and unoriginal, while others welcomed a combat system like that in Square Enix's games. Either way, the game experienced good success during the holiday season of 2004.Template:ME-fact IGN awarded the game with a score of 8.5 out of 10 and GameSpot a 7.7 out of 10
Deviations from the text
The story is intended to be original and as such is not canonical. Nonetheless, there are also some minor deviations such as Helm Hammerhand having a warhammer and the use of the term "she-elf", which never appears in the books (though it is used to refer to Liv Tyler's Arwen in the films). Other errors include the pronunciation of "Dúnedain" as rhyming with "pain" — whereas it should rhyme with "dine", as Tolkien writes in one of his appendices, and the final battle with the Eye of Sauron, which follows the films as depicting Sauron as a physical flaming eye — which the book character was actually not.
Also there are spelling differences; Arnor appears as 'Anor' in some places and Eowyn in combat is spelt Sield Maiden, not Shield. Kingsfoil and athelas are suggested to be two separate plants, but in the books they are alternate names. Also, the party is present at key plot moments, so they can participate in events which in the books are solo fights, or non-fights. Examples include interactions with the Balrog, the Witch-king, and the Eye of Sauron.
In other games
Hadhod, Berethor, Idrial and Morwen reappeared in The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II (Xbox 360 and PC special edition) as homemade heroes. Berethor and Morwen are Heroes of the 'Men of the West', while Hadhod is the hero of the Dwarves and Idrial of the Elves:
- Berethor is a Captain of Gondor.
- Morwen is a Shieldmaiden of Rohan.
- Hadhod is a Dwarven Sage.
- Idrial is a female Elven Warrior.
The two other fellowship-members of The Third Age are not in the game; they can be made in the hero-builder, though the system is very limited.