Battling Betwixt The Two Towers - The Third and Final Review Entry for Electronic Arts' LOTR: TTT for PS2
Battling Between the Two Towers
I have used my trusty torch to set the Nazgul ablaze and fend them away from the Ringbearer, Frodo Baggins. I have fought my way to the Gate of Moria and battled the Watcher in the Water to gain entrance to the lost Dwarven kingdom. I have slain orcs uncountable as Boromir's horn blew in desperate need and Frodo fled the forests near Amon Hen. I have tracked Merry and Pippin across the grasses of Rohan and into the dark of Fangorn and there was beset by trolls, goblins, and orcs.
It was there, under the dark canopy of ancient trees, that Gandalf the White returned to us. With his guidance and urgent advice, we made our way more deeply into Rohan. Discovering that Saruman now has some evil type of explosive device that he uses with suicide orc-bombers, we made our way with all haste to Helm's Deep. It was there that the fate of Middle Earth would be decided.
No, I'm not writing about my re-read of The Two Towers novel. No, I haven't been privy to any magical preview of Peter Jackson's upcoming second installment in the LOTR movie trilogy. I am writing about my (now completed) gameplay of Electronic Arts' Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers for PS2.
In my previous gameplay review, I had played Aragorn and Legolas through ten of the missions and was about to embark upon the defense of Helm's Deep. Helm's Deep. The movie cut scenes in the game are more than enough to get your adrenaline flowing for the three Helm's Deep missions. Orcs in the thousands gather before the walls of Helm's Deep and begin to pound their long spears upon the drenched ground in daring challenge. Upon the wall, Aragorn stands surveying the enemy. Elven arrows begin to fly as ladders are flung against the stone and the orcs begin their attempt to breach the wall's defenses.
And then you are there, the movie has transformed into game, and the battle has begun. There's little margin for error in the Helm's Deep battles in EA's game. It's a race against time and doing exactly what must be done in order to keep the orcs from gaining advantage. They are tough battles. In fact, in my opinion, they make the other missions look like a walk through the Shire, pre-Nazgul invasion. The first mission, where you defend the Deeping Wall, is a mixture of kill the orc, knock back the ladders with your kick, and deep, steady breathing. There is no time to think; no time to wonder where you should be next; it's simple survival. Well, simple survival Middle Earth style. A graphical display on the screen lets you see how much success the orcs are having in their efforts; let it grow to the blazing red of defeat, and you will see one of the most disturbing images that an LOTR fan could ever see: All three of your heroes slain, albeit heroically, in front of your very eyes. Yes, mellyn, fail to defend the wall, and you will watch, in excruciating detail, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli all fall to orc blades.
I was blessed by Eru for I successfully defended the wall on my first attempt. I was grinning like one of Queen Beruthiel's cats when it was over, and I wiped the perspiration from my hands and face. But that elation was not too last very long: the next mission nearly drove me to madness. As the women and children are quickly ushered back into the Glittering Caves and the door is closed and barred, you are left, alone, to defend it.
They are coming.
Suicidal Uruk Hai with explosives strapped to their backs; shielded orcs that will hack and pound on the door-that-must-not-fall; Uruk Hai Berserkers; a Cave Troll; and finally, a catapult that wreaks fiery havoc. It took my Legolas about ten attempts to successfully defend the door. Aragorn has yet to triumph. Gimli is far too "young" to even try. This is a tough, TOUGH battle; and, from what I read on the TORC gaming boards and the EA gaming boards, others have found it to be so as well. Stand fast on this one and do not despair. And if you fail....you will once again see your hero run through with orc weaponry. Those death images certainly keep you playing; I mean, no one wants to quit the game with the image still fresh in their mind's eye of Legolas lying dead on the ground ? Do they?
The "final" mission of the game was difficult as well, but it seemed (to me) that I was more adept at this point in the game. (Mission practice makes mission perfect?) With my nephew's coaching, ("go and rescue Aragorn; go and shoot the archers; now use your bow"), I was successful after two attempts. Don't assume that the mission is easy; it's not. However, with a little intensity, a sure aim, and knowing what to do and when, you, too, will save Helm's Deep and the Rohan people from the attempted genocide of Saruman's Uruk Hai.
And you will be rewarded with MORE scenes from the movie. Scenes of the Uruk Hai storming into the stronghold; Theoden and his mounted warriors slamming on their helmets and riding to meet them; Uruk Hai fleeing, (man, I hope that they give a good visual for why the Uruk Hai would flee at this point because Theoden and Company look like they are still vastly outnumbered); Gandalf the White and friends storming into the front lines of the Uruk Hai, despite the orcs' raised long spears, and their horses leaping into the fray. Again, it looks like military suicide, so I really hope that it's believably done when we get to see the whole finale in December.
One last tidbit: I was told yesterday by a very, VERY reliable source that the scene at the end of the game where Gandalf is speaking to Aragorn did NOT make it into the final cut of The Two Towers movie. The EA game is the only (legal) source that you will have to view the scene where Gandalf tells Aragorn that Sauron fears Aragorn and his heritage. Now, truly, that adds a whole new collector's twist to owning this EA game, doesn't it?
Do you get to fight with Gandalf the White and/or interact with him in the game? Yes, you do. There is a mission in Rohan, pre-Helm's Deep, where Gandalf is your "sidekick". Very nifty indeed.
Do you see Ents? Yep, just be very observant in Fangorn and pay attention to the shadows both on the ground and especially when you're in the river.
Are the movie-to-game transitions really seamless? Define seamless. Honestly, I was caught off guard several times when the movie would transition into the game and vice versa. Obviously, I KNEW that it had changed; but, it did take a second or two for me visually know this and then grab my controller and start my gameplay. Granted, this "seamlessness" is partially due to the game adopting the same camera angles of the preceding or succeeding movie scene, but nevertheless, it's as close to "seamless" as I've ever seen in a video game.
Secret characters and secret levels? Yes and yes. Should I spoil it for you? Well, it's not like you won't find it elsewhere on the internet, but if you don't want to know, then namarie for now and enjoy the game.
If you want to know....
I was right in my initial guess that Isildur is the secret "bonus" character. You must defeat the regular 13 missions with either Legolas, Aragorn, or Gimli, be at least level 10, and then go through 20 (yep, 20!!!) "levels" of fighting within the Tower of Orthanc against lots and lots and lots of Saruman's Minions. This sounds rather exciting, at first, as one imagines running through the Tower of Orthanc whilst slaying evil critters. Unfortunately, that's not what you experience. It's a single setting that looks like the room where Gandalf and Saruman battled and you simply kill and kill and kill until you have done it successfully 20 times. Yes, it does get to be a bit redundant. However, taking a positive attitude, you can get REALLY good with your special attacks after 20 levels.
Orthanc tidbit: You can see your character's breath in Orthanc which is rather interesting. Cold in there?
I have played Isildur in the secret level, (sorry, only one), and in a few of the regular missions. Isildur is TOUGH and fun to play. You will enjoy taking him through the 13 missions even if it makes absolutely no Hobbit-sense that he would fight in any of them. Oh, use your imagination! It IS a game after all! (That's my new LOTR mantra!)
Here's another rather amazing fact: Even though I've finished the game, I am still going back and playing my favorite missions. Why? Well, I've gotten much better in knowing how to effectively use my special attacks. I am enjoying going back and whippin monsta booty with a bit more finesse and style!
We've also had to buy a second copy of EAs TTT within the family; my nephew had begun to horde my original copy and call it "precious" so I was forced to go and buy copy number two. It'll be a cold day at Mt Doom before anyone gets this one away from me. It has become....precious to me.
Elbren's previous two review entries for EA's TTT game can be found here:
Decide the Fate of Middle Earth: http://www.theonering.com/docs/7686.html
Battling from Mordor to Helm's Deep: http://www.theonering.com/docs/7716.html