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Lord of the Rings: Conquest Hands On

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One of the franchises that’s most near and dear to me is the Lord of the Rings franchise. When I heard Pandemic Studios (of Star Wars Battle Front fame) was taking the reigns to make a similar experience around the Lord of the Rings I was genuinely excited. It would be a lot of fun to hit the famous battle grounds of Middle Earth and duke it out with hundreds of enemies and be able to take the experience online over Xbox Live.

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Lord of the Rings: Conquest delivers in spades on a number of levels for not only the gamer but the LOTR fan within. I got a chance to sit down with a one level demo of the game in the good side single player campaign. It wasn’t just any ol level either, it was one of the showcase battles of the trilogy, Minas Tirith. Visually Minas Tirith is true to the design of the movies. You start out at the gates of the White City as the trolls are charging in and work your way up from there. As you get higher and higher through the levels you can see the vast battle in Pelennor Fields. Nice little visuals additions such as catapults firing away onto the city can all be seen in real time as the battle rages. The streets and walls have that classic weathered feel to them. The orc enemies look as you remember them from the movie. However, the most impressive enemies are the trolls. There is really a sense of scale in the game so naturally an attack troll is about twice a normal man’s height and much bigger around. They carry clubs and if you get hit by one you will know, they pack heavy damage.

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In LOTR: Conquest, you play as a normal warrior, mage, archer, or scout for a majority of the game. However, there are sequences in which you get to play as main characters such as Aragorn. The game play is good old hack n slash. You can swing your sword with X and perform magic with Y. The combat is deep enough for this type of game. You can combo moves together and you can hold attack buttons to charge attacks. You can also block attacks with the left trigger. When you’re in trouble, the game will start to flash “You are out numbered” on screen in red. There are literally tens of enemies on your screen at any one time. If you get knocked down, when you get back up you perform a clearing attack that knocks back your enemies quickly in a cinematic style. You’ll be able to experience Middle Earth online with a friend in 2 player cooperative play over live. I played most of my play through as the warrior class however as the mage you can perform a “You shall not pass” on your enemies like Gandalf which was cool to see in action.

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The game is shaping up well and geeking around Middle Earth in this hack n slash should be a lot of fun. They weren’t talking much about the multiplayer during the demo time but you know with Pandemic’s track record a good amount of modes and players will be in the final build. The game is set to hit a Shire near you later this year.

E3 08: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince Wii Hands On

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As E3 wound down I decided to take one final walk of the small show floor in search of some me time games. I bolted over to the EA booth to check out Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince on the Wii. I was most interested to check out what new features were in the game and if the game play had been improved. I’m happy to report that the latest Harry Potter game on the Wii is going to be the best Potter game to date.

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E3 08: Halo Wars In Depth Hands On

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One of the games that kind of fell off the radar for a while has been Halo Wars. Its absence at May’s gamer showcase began to stir wonder as to the state of the project. At E3, Halo Wars was playable behind closed doors at the Microsoft meeting room. Halo Wars takes place 20 years before Halo: Combat Evolved. Thus far the announced races are the UNSC and the Covenant. I played for about 30 minutes as the UNSC on the map Labyrinth in a co-op game which you will also be able to experience online. Of all the recent console RTS’ I feel as though Halo Wars gets it done right in terms of the console.

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E3 08: Tom Clancy’s HAWX Hands On

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Tom Clancy’s HAWX is the game at E3 I wasn’t expecting to find. I’ve never really been a dog fighting game fan. But my hands on time with the game impressed me so much. The game is out of this world. HAWX takes place in the near Tom Clancy future. The coolest part of the game is that HAWX’s missions integrate into other Tom Clancy games. For example, the demo MP game at Cape Canaveral where you must defend a space shuttle launch is ripped from a prior Ghost Recon title where you were on the ground in the same conflict waiting for air support. In HAWX, that’s you. The game is aiming at flight sim fans but also tossing in stuff for the fans of the Clancy game fans as well.

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HAWX will feature 18 missions and over 50 planes. There will be 4 player cooperative play over live and also 8 players for PvP games. Behind closed doors there was a multiplayer dog fighting demo of the game which I played for a bit. The visuals in the game are very well done and were redrawn from satellite mapping of the locations that are being replicated in game for authenticity.

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Flying your plane is split between two modes. In the first mode the plane flies comfortably and acrobatics are disables. This allows for novice and hardcore players to be on equal footing and is referred to in game as E.R.S and assistance modes. In the MP demo however you’ll be locking on to enemies and getting locked on to. When you are locked on to, it’s time to switch views to third person view of your plane to perform aerobatic moves to avoid missiles. It adds a lot of tension to the game to try and get away from missiles heading at you in every direction by having to quickly switch to the 3rd person view. HAWX is still in development and will be out in Q1 of 09.

E3 08: Prince of Persia Walkthrough

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One of the most startling changes to a franchise at E3 is the change in art style and overall direction of the Prince of Persia franchise. Ubisoft was on hand to demo the game in one on one walk throughs. My first question to the Ubisoft representative was regarding the decision to the changes made to the game’s art style and visuals. The PoP team wanted to try something new while remaining loyal to core fans of the franchise. From what I saw in my 20 minute demo the latest PoP is going to be the most enjoyable PoP to date.

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