Friday, April 1, 2011

Backlog Assault: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

In the last few years I've built up a pretty crazy gaming backlog. This year, I've decided it's high time I do something about it. Join me as I begin to regret more than ever all those impulse Steam buys and 99 cent PS2 bargains:

Title: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Platform: PS2

23 July 2010
From: GameStop
Price: €0.99

04 March 2011
Final Game Time: 4:00 approx.
Price/Hour: €0.25 approx.

Backloggery Dump:
  • 01/03/11 - Thought I'd give this a spin tonight. I'm up to Fangorn Forest at the moment, mashing my way to victory.
    03/03/11 - Seriously? Not a single checkpoint in that bullshit Wall Breach level? No way I'm trying that for a third time, I'm done. :D
    04/03/11 - Turns out there was a way I was trying Mission 11 again, on easy. :D Went on to beat the final mission after that.

In my experience, EA games from this era are usually solidly-made, reasonably entertaining, but never anything really special or inspiring. The Two Towers doesn't really buck that trend.

In case you don't know, this is a hack and slash game, covering the major battles from the first two movies. I'm not exactly an expert on these types of games, but the combat seemed decent enough and there's quite a bit of depth added to it as you buy more combos with the experience points you earn. I may have been stumped by that second last level, but for the most part, the game's difficulty on Normal feels pretty well-balanced, at least for a noob like me.

Level-wise, the game's made up of (disappointingly) linear treks through enemy-infested areas and larger-scale battles taking place in more open areas like Balin's Tomb. For an early PS2 game, the amount of enemies on screen in the second type of level is quite impressive and I was pleasantly surprised by how tense and exciting those battles could get. As far as I can tell though, these levels are checkpoint-free (unlike the others), making multiple failures a controller-throwingly frustrating experience.

Presentation-wise, the game could be better. Transitioning from movie footage to the in-game action is certainly a neat idea, but when the game in question is rough-looking, even for an early PS2 game, it only serves to highlight how much of a visual gulf there is between the two. The character models fare especially poorly in this juxtaposition (Gimli's face makes him look like a deformed latex puppet), making the movie to game switch kind of hilarious. Well, at least to me anyway. The voice acting isn't too great either. Ian McKellen puts in a fine performance, but the rest of it seems pretty phoned-in. (Viggo Mortensen sounds more like he's rehearsing lines from the script to himself than delivering them.)

I'm just nitpicking now though; It's a pretty short game and it does have it's problems, but I mostly enjoyed the few hours I spent playing it. I wouldn't go out of my way to get hold of a copy, but if you see one lying around for 99 cents, you could certainly do worse.


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