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Lord Of The Rings: Conquest – not so great


January is a miserable time for gamers. If we look at the wider picture, the first seven months of the year are generally apathetic in this industry, giving publishers a chance to recover from the Christmas rush and begin to mount an assault on the following holiday season.

Some games do crawl out of the woodwork, though, and this month’s emblematic post-Christmas release is Pandemic’s Lord Of The Rings: Conquest, a Star Wars: Battlefront-style third-person action game that is conceptually an exciting proposition. The Battlefront games were heralded as licensed products done right, capturing the spirit of the source material and ensuring that the gameplay in tow was appealing to the wider market. You could get in X-Wings and kill Ewoks; it all worked very well.

The same certainly can’t be said for Conquest. The level design is atrociously base and lazy, while the combat is vacuous button bashing that rivals Dynasty Warriors‘ lack of finesse. Both good and evil campaigns are littered with appalling bits of story interludes, but it isn’t even enjoyable in a hammy way.

As a Lord Of The Rings fan, I didn’t feel particularly insulted – nobody’s making me buy the game, after all, and EA probably has to release one LOTR game a year as part of its agreement to maintain the licence. Still, the thought of somebody paying full price for it, expecting a title to the same standard as Battlefront and then regretting it makes me a little sad. Note how there aren’t many advance reviews for this one, either.

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