Players: 1 to 2 Player Game | Release Date: 10/21/02 | Genre: Action
Let me first say that there is never a dull moment in this game. From the very start you are tossed into heavy battle, with terribly deformed orcs slashing at you with duel axes and archers sniping at you in the hills. But you soon find that you are a force to be reckoned with as well. You can deliver a nasty heavy blow to take out large enemies and keep them back with quick jabs. For fun you can even kick them into the lava pools and watch them burn. From this description, you see why I like this game so much: it's a perfect frustration releaser. Unlike stiff, almost robotic movements as seen in the Resident Evil series, this game will allow you to powerfully charge and knock your enemies down, delivering a optional death blow. If you think that's good, just wait.
First of all, you can play three characters: Aragorn, Legolas or Gimli (the three greatest warriors of The Lord of the Rings). It stacks up like this: If you want a powerful tank that can charge headfirst into a massive wave of enemies and raise Hell without a scratch, Gimli is your dwarf. If you are more into acrobat, swift and with less powerful motions (more of a shadow striker), then the Elven prince Legolas is at your service. But if you want a universal hero with fast, powerful and decisive movements, take Aragorn and have the ladies of Middle Earth swoon over you.
You stay with their same weapons the entire time; Aragorn has his sharp sword with good reach, Legolas his duel machetes and Gimli has his stout axe. Aragon and Legolas both have a bow and quiver for long ranged attacks while Gimli can take down his enemies with iron axes (with shorter range, however). As you travel from level to level, you are faced with Sauron's evil armies and have to ward off thousands of minions, because everyone else in the game is lazy and can't defend themselves.
The gameplay is essentially this: the three epic characters delivering fatal blows in a variety of ways. Some such as the Swift Terror can take out a few enemies while some allow you to hack a shield, strike your orc, knock them down and do a fatal deathblow all in one move. It's a ballet of death, and I think what EA wanted to do was show just how powerful and skilled these warriors were. Don't worry about dying; almost every orc and enemy drops a heath potion, and some drop arrows and axes for the ones in the hard to reach places. Parrying is very easy; arrows can be deflected, and even the tentacles of a grumpy watcher (the monster outside of the mines of Moria) can be knocked away. But even though you seem to be invincible and look very nice while doing it, Sauron makes sure that he will give you one heck of a fight.
The enemies are spectacular; they scream, taunt and move in a way of eerie realism. Cave troll's noses go up in pain as your powerful arrow gets lodged in their tough hide, Ringwraiths deflect blows and scream in pain as you light the grim-reaper like beings on fire, and terrifying Uruk-Hai run, pause to collect, and wait for you moment of weakness. The textures and modeling of the enemies are unbelievable above par, and sounds perfectly go with each bash of a sword and clank of chain mail. However, some of the homes and catapults in cut scenes are a little blocky and simplistic, like something you would expect from Spyro on the PSX. Anyway, back to sounds-- let me get one rumor out of the way: their main feature of actor's voices is there, but they are not great. Its seems as if their characters are speaking as if they have had scripts in hand and are sitting safely in a recording studio rather than in the mines of Moria. The voices are a little corny, and the real movie footage seems to be a cheap trick to make the choppy story flow a little better. But since the movie is one of the greatest in our time and the voices are that of accomplished actors, the game does not falter that much.
Like I said before, its all about swordplay. Defending, executing cool moves, hacking away at a fiendish amount of Uruk-Hai and completing simple tasks. Don't expect to play this game hours on end, however�you can complete all 13 levels with all 3 characters in one sitting, or about 6-8 hours. Its short, but the real kicker is the moves that you gain moves with each character. So when you go back to the first very easy missions, you can make them cower in fear with your devastating swings and fearless demeanor. Also includes some extra footage of interviews and such, but I'm not very interested in that. To see Lurtz without any makeup is just plain creepy.