So after checking all my feeds and news sites for something to blog about, I happened upon word of a demo for LotR: Conquest being available on Xbox Live. I figured it might be worthwhile to check out, as, if you’re a listener of the show, you’ll recall us discussing the game earlier on in. So after the long download, I jumped into the training mission of the demo.
This segment was done pretty well actually, letting you know how to play while also putting you into the action from the start. LotR: Conquest’s tutorial puts you into the first final battle with Sauron (don’t know what it’s called, I’m not a Lord of the Rings buff), and allows you to choose between four classes, which are focused on throughout the tutorial. The warrior, my personal favorite class, is introduced first. He can chain together some pretty cool combos and use a fire sword ability to dish out some major damage. Unfortunately, it gets boring somewhat rapidly, and you’ll soon be stuck waiting for more goblins to spawn because you are killing them off too quickly.
The next class introduced is the archer, the basic ranged unit. He can’t do too much, and has to attack from afar with his poison, fire, and multi-shot arrow attacks. His only melee attack is a weak kick, serving only to push enemies backwards so you can kite them around. Next up is the scout, a rogue-like class that can stealth himself and assassinate enemies. He’s pretty fun in the tutorial, and also in the multiplayer, but, aside from his assassination attack, he seems a bit useless. The mage, playable lastly, is a fireball throwing, shield conjuring, shockwave master. In short, he sits back and cast spells, which may seem fun at first, but due to the clunky gameplay (to be explained later), even the mage’s otherworldly powers become dull fast.
Now, these classes may or may not seem fun, but what killed this game for me was the clunkiness of this game’s actual game play. This clunkiness first makes its appearance to us in the menus, where in order to play a multiplayer match, you must register with EA. I mean really, this is Xbox Live people, we shouldn’t have to register with a third-party company just to play a game. And its even worse because EA only uses these accounts to spam out previews for all the sub-par sequels that they’re publishing.
Regarding actual game play, two battlefields will be available in the demo: Minas Tirith and The Shire. These environments are pretty well constructed, and, while the level designs could have been better, they offer a nice balanced field of play. When fighting with large amounts of players on the screen, the game gets clunky, and not in a frame-rate-dropping-sort-of-way. When I mean it gets choppy, I mean that when characters attack, their combos are so “cinematic,” that you could be executing a lengthy 5 or 6 button combo when suddenly, mid-combo, your character gets knocked flat by some random arrow and must lay around on the ground, rolling around for a few seconds, before he can get back and restart his combo. By that time, the person you were fighting will have either finished you off or will have fallen victim to the same sort of interruption.
The game is like trying to play a fighting game with 16 fighters instead of 2. The combat is slow and clunky, and the combos take entirely too long to pull off, resulting in slow moving characters that have to stop for an unimaginably long amount of time just to swing their sword at an enemy. With a game like Starwars: Battlefront under their belts, you’d think Pandemic would be able to not only make this game chaotic, but also fun to play and somewhat face-paced. Lord of the Rings: Conquest is just chaotic.
I realize that this is only a demo and therefore I’d like to remind you that this is just a demo review/ game preview, and that no final opinions have been disclosed in the above text.