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The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Developer: Stormfront Studios | Publisher: Electronic Arts
Players: 1 to 2 Player Game | Release Date: 10/21/02 | Genre: Action

Popping the Two Towers cart into your GBA and you’re almost instantly shown a myriad of actual clips from the film. Nothing that hasn’t been shown in trailers. Just enough to get the message across that, after the last batch of lackluster Lord of The Rings games, modern fans of the films are finally getting what they want... a full movie license.

EAgames brings a genre of action game that is just starting to become popular on the GBA hardware, Dungeon crawling hack’n slash, something that started it debut with the unplayable Gauntlet Legions. But, fear not! With gameplay far more akin to Diablo and Dungeon Sage on the PC, Two Tower’s on the GameBoy Advanced hardware is easy to learn and will have you slicing your way through waves of oncoming Orc solders in no time.

The characters that EA has chosen to do this dirty job are Aragorn, Legolos, Gandolf, Frodo, and the princess of Rohen Eowyn. Gimli the Dwarf only shows up in the game as a nonplayable hero you can summon to help you clear some foes out of your way later in the game. Aside from everyone but Eowyn, the game starts in the same level that takes place after the fellowship leaves Rivindaile on the way to Moria, then… on two later plot points in the movie and books. Very much like the original stories, each of the hero characters have very different ways of using magic and fighting. Aragorn will become a strong melee fighter capable of using two swords at once. Legolos will have his deadly long-range attacks, and even Frodo can be a powerful force with his short sword and the use of the One Ring. The uses of the Ring allows for Frodo to become invisible and avoid enemies, But don’t use the ring for too long at one time! Over uses will call the RingWraths onto poor Frodo, which in this game basically equals instant death.

The game will also have the servants of Salron (things like black crows) on the lookout for you constantly in the early levels of the game. If you let too many crows getaway… your old pals the RingWraths show up again, you get the idea.

Gameplay seems lifted directly from Diablo. On the left and right on the screen are the same Red and Blue orbs that are used to gage your health and Magic. Red for Health and Blue for Mana just like in Blizzard’s games. Also very similar is your players Inventory screen. Each character has slots for things like armor, boots, and jewelry that all have there own unique property’s when equipped. Jewels act as the games money system, which comes in handy for those particular items that just can’t be found off the corpses of orc you leave in your wake. And killing a constant supply of Footmen in the same repetitive mashing of the “Bâ€? button really makes the game suffer. There is no real explanation of this amazing story’s plot in the game; So, all you get really is tons of “point A to point B action."

Graphically the game gets quite bland quickly. Usually with games like Diablo you make the sacrifice of fairly mindless gameplay for detailed impressive graphics. It's just too bad that the GBA just can’t pull this off yet. Instead levels look very much alike but with variations only on ground textures. Even the enemies will have you hoping for more variety as the standard “baddieâ€? model will only change through out the game in by swiching color. Basicly, enemies will all look the same, but will become more challenging to kill... thus, the standard gray Orc enemy will become Gold and Blue to help you decide who to dispatch first. Something that seems sloppy and a bit of a letdown in what should be the rich world of middle-earth.

Now, I know it may seem that I’m bashing GBA’s Two Towers, but it’s not a bad game. Sadly it’s just another rushed “Movie Licensedâ€? game that was pushed out before Christmas shopping. But really no matter what I’ve mention in this review you still get a class of game that is new to the GameBoy Advanced and will allow you to relive some of the films better action sequences.

So, to finalize, it’s hard to say just how long Frodo and pals will stay plugged into your GBA, but it’s in no way as deeply disappointing as the slew of Fellowship of The Ring’s batch of games. And really... You can’t go much better than with EA for a LOTR game.

If you really want to experience Tolkien action bliss, I suggest that you try the outstanding incarnations of Two Towers on the GameCube, Xbox, or PlayStation 2 first.

By Dominick Fleres - 01/21/03
ESRB Details: Blood, Violence
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Screenshots for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

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