Lord of the Rings: Conquest Hands On

Jul 21, 2008

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.

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.

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.

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.