PC/Xbox 360 Review: LOTR Conquest

Could this be the one game to rule them all? Not exactly…

I love Lord of the Rings. The books, the films and even some of the games like LOTR Online and Return of the King…but there still hasn’t been a game that has been considered outstanding other than the MMO. EA tries again with LOTR Conquest, which borrows the gameplay from Star Wars Battlefront and tries to infuse it into Tolkien’s trilogy with mixed results.
There are two campaigns for you to go through, one for good and the other for evil. In each you choose a character class including Mage, Scout, Warrior and Archer to complete simple objectives like capturing a point on the map, killing a specific enemy or carrying an item from one area to another. The idea is simple but it falls apart quickly, combat is frustrating and unsatisfying while objectives become increasingly repetitive and tedious.

As you complete objectives, you’ll be given the chance to play as a famous character like Gandalf, Saruman, Sauron and even the Balrog. The problem with the Balrog is that he takes up most of the screen so it’s hard to see what is in front of you; he’s also very slow but makes up for it with brute strength. The other characters are more or less more powerful clones of character classes, which will earn you achievements in the Xbox 360 version for killing a specific enemy using the special character.

If there’s one thing that annoys me even more about LOTR Conquest, it’s the way they’ve screwed around with the story…inventing things that never happened or wouldn’t be able to happen such as Gandalf going back to the Mines of Moria to fight the Balrog again or for Aragorn to go to Minas Morgul to recapture it, plus Aragorn kills Saruman…all of which is just madness. The evil campaign messes things up even further with you killing Frodo in the first level and then killing off the other characters through the levels like Aragorn in Weathertop and Gandalf in the Shire. It’s just completely off the wall, I honestly don’t know how it was ever approved to mess the story up so much.
Multiplayer is probably the most fun you’ll get out of the game. It is split into a number of modes like Capture the Ring which is a CTF clone but with you dragging the ring to the enemy’s base instead of your own. Conquest is simply a case of capturing points till the enemy can’t respawn or until you reach 1000 points and then there’s the usual deathmatch/team deathmatch that you would expect. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but I spent longer on it than the single player….which I completed in a matter of hours without any challenge.
There are few differences between the PC and Xbox 360 versions other than the lack of achievements and perhaps better load times on the PC. The visuals are weak for any 360/PC game; character models are detailed nicely, but they don’t look as good as should be expected from the systems that they are on. Voice-work between levels is done by Agent Smith/Elrond actor, Hugo Weaving and does a fine job in delivering the lines, despite how badly they messed with the story.

The Verdict

When it comes down to it, LOTR Conquest is a major disappointment for fans like me. It changes the story into ridiculous situations while adding in sub-par combat and spells. Multiplayer is pretty fun, but its limited and will become more tedious as you play. It’s hard to recommend it to any Tolkien fan…I just hope their next LOTR effort could finally be the one to rule them all…