Monday, April 13, 2009

The Lord of the Rings: Conquest

I've pretty much ignored LoTR, having seen only one of the movies (I can't even remember which one it was), and stopped at that.  Just never caught my interest, I guess.  But apparently, the movies have some rather large scale battles.  Which is cool.  I dunno if any of the games have tried to recreate this, but Conquest most certainly does, with EA boasting that the game will be able to handle more than 200 characters duking it out onscreen.

If you've played Star Wars: Battlefront (or, more specifically, its sequel), Conquest will immediately feel familiar, as it plays rather similarly.  Each battle begins with a cutscene prologue, then you're taken to a tactical map showing control points (or CP, for Battlefront veterans) and all units currently engaged in combat.  You choose your spawn point, then choose a character class, and jump into battle.  Just like Battlefront, you're given an objective to do, one after the other, except this time its not always just about capturing CP.  Where Battlefront basically drops you into a huge battle and says "take over all the CP", Conquest usually gives you a variety of objectives, from killing a major character, to defending an area, and back to taking CP.  As a result, the game feels much more linear than Battlefront.

Now mind you, I haven't played Battlefront II (the game I have) in a while, but while the screen wasn't exactly crowded, it did feel like an active warzone.  Conquest takes this even further.  Though at no point did it feel like there were 200 characters actively fighting (unless you count the massive armies at war outside the player boundaries of the Pelinnor Fields map).  Really, Dynasty Warriors probably does the quantity thing better.  But whereas in Dynasty Warriors  you've got crowds of retarded NPCs that just stand there, most of the AI controlled characters, both allies and enemies, take active roles in battle.  Archers will snipe others (to my annoyance), Warriors will actively seek out foes to beat down, and it is in fact very possible (and incredibly surprising) to get backstabbed by AI Scouts.

The choice of classes available to you is toned down from Battlefront though.  You have the Warrior, an armor clad fellow wielding a two handed broadsword.  As Warriors battle, their rage, or adrenaline meter fills up, allowing them to pull off devastating feats of fiery swordplay.  Basically, Warriors are your bread and butter.  They're job is simply to kill the enemy, plain and simple.  Warriors are also equipped with throwing axes.

There's also the Mage, a staff wielder that is capable of deflecting projectiles and healing both themselves and allies.  Thus, they can double as medics.  With their ground pound, Mages are capable close combat fighters, but they also have fireballs and lightning attacks at their disposal for mid range fighting.

Scouts are the Spec Ops of the crew.  Though you could say they are just as capable in an outright confrontation as any Warrior, they're better suited to attacking from the shadows.  Scouts are easily the most annoying guys to fight, because of their backstab ability.  Scouts have the ability to cloak, turning them near invisible (you can see them if you really look, but its near impossible to notice one coming up behind you in the heat of battle).  While cloaked, you can come up behind an enemy and press R1 to one hit kill them.  This applies to all playable characters, including heroes and villains (haven't tried on Sauron though), so its very satisfying to watch a lowly scout grab Gandalf from behind, throw him down, and stab him, instantly killing him.  Scouts also have satchel bombs for setting things on fire, as well as knocking foes down for a quick escape.

And finally there's the Archer, who should be self-explanatory.  The Archer has a weak little kick move for close combat, but thats it, so keep your distance.  Archers can use explosive arrows, poison arrows, and fire multiple arrows.

While there's the typical story campaign, there's also the "Rise of Sauron" campaign, which is a what-if story that ends with  Sauron as the new lord of the Middle Ages.  So if you feel Sauron was totally dealt an unfair defeat, there you have it.

Both campaigns can be played through in splitscreen coop, and there's also 16 player online (though I think you have to sign up for an EA nation account to play).  For versus modes, there's Conquest, which is simply each team battling for control of CP, like in Battlefront, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Ring (I think that's what it's called), which is a tug of war kind of capture the flag where the One Ring is set down in the middle of the map, and you have to bring it to your opponent's base.  These are all available in offline splitscreen, as well.

Lord of the Rings: Conquest, isn't a bad game.  I did encounter a few graphical glitches here and there (like special effects basically not appearing anymore, and enemies freezing in place), but the gameplay isn't bad.  But for all their boasting, the game isn't better than Battlefront II.  In fact, I think Battlefront II was much funner.  This was a decent try though.  A 7.5/10.

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