The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age

The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age - Review PS2

The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age - Review PS2

If turn-based role playing games (RPG's) are your cup of tea then The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age will not disappoint. Although there is nothing especially different to its predecessors, or any other game of its kind, there is enough to interest any avid Lord of the Rings fan. Instead of deriving the story line directly from the books themselves like the first instalments, this sequel involves playing as new character Berethor, a Gondorian warrior showing strange similarities with Sean Bean. He is in search of the heir to the Gondorian throne, Boromir. Due to Boromir joining the fellowship, Berethor must travel through Middle Earth, gaining allies along the way in an attempt to reunite his homeland with their rightful leader.

Like all RPG's, if good old button bashing hack and slash is what you're looking for then this game is probably not for you. I, however, drew great pleasure in disposing of orks, goblins and the odd Balrog fire demon in a tactical and patient manor. The allies that Berethor encounters do show a resemblance to that

  The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age - Review PS2

of the original fellowship with an elf and a dwarf for company, but the introduction of another couple of new characters does give enough to the storyline for the game to constantly entertain. Combat involves either attacking using the individuals chosen weapon or using spiritual powers to eliminate your opponents. With new equipment regularly gained, the limited variation of individuals' chosen weapon keeps interest even with no real feel of battle. As you progress through the game your different characters' inventory expands with improved armour and weaponry coming in handy when surrounded by hungry looking Wargs.

Graphically the game is excellent even if some of the cut-scenes do look a bit wooden. The detail to the scenery and to the characters themselves is impressive, especially when disposing of two cave trolls with the sight of a manic Gandalf keeping the Balog at bay in the distance- sheer class. With the quest following that of the story you do get to see many familiar sites even if exploration is limited. You get a good feel for Middle Earth with the original movie score coming in handy and Gandalf narrating throughout adding extra authenticity in some way.

Another new addition to this game is that of 'Evil Mode'. With this title I was expecting big things. Unfortunately it is slightly disappointing. You have the choice to do short missions as henchmen of Sauron with the promise of new 'evil' equipment for Berethor et al. The missions are short and I found that sticking to the story itself was far more interesting.

The variety of 'evil-doers' is impressive with constant variation throughout. I had no real trouble in defeating most but learning tactics along the way do make it easier. Even with the elimination of the original heroes you don't miss out on beating on most of the main villains. When foes near, the 'Eye of Sauron' appears in the corner of the screen with an instantly recognizable wail indicating the start of a ruck. In rare cases, usually nearing a chest containing goodies, enemies will suddenly appear looking for an axe around the face. All this results in almost constant battle, which, as we all know, can only be a good thing.

Without coming up with this new storyline there was a risk of the Lord of the Rings' Playstation days being numbered. This game is well worth a look even if the life span will almost undoubtedly be short but, with no real avenues to explore after this title, who would deny themselves one final fling with Tolkien's world.

7 out of 10


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