EA's Return of the King - A Virtual Journey into Middle-earth

I'd like to specifically thank the great guys at Electronic Arts for letting Jonathan and I take a look at their new offerings for the Return of the King. 

The Return of the King consol game will be released on November 4th and will be available on the PS2, Xbox, PC, GBA, and Game Cube.

The game itself will feature 10 playable characters journeying through the different areas from the Return of the King movie.  Eight of these characters will be playable off the bat, while 2 of them will need to be unlocked.   For those of you who have played the EA's Two Towers you will see several upgrades to the Return of the King.  Levels are now larger and feature dynamic loading to make game play more immersive.  Textures will be larger and each character will have power ups/upgrades which will make each character feel different and unique.  The number of levels in the game has not been set yet, but is in the neighborhood of 14. 

As with the previous EA offering this version features video from the Movies which leads into the game engine.  The music from the game is also composed by movie composer Howard Shore

New also to this addition of the game is the multiplayer version of the game where you and a friend can team up to conquer the levels you have already mastered in single player mode.

So how is the game?  Well, to start off the review, I'm going to have to say that I'm a fan of these types of games.  My type of game is either a very fast paced FPS or a in-depth RPG.  But with that said, I enjoyed playing this game.  Jonathan and I got to play both the single player and multiplayer levels of this game.

The single player map for our demo was the walls of Minas Tirith.  Gandalf is quite busy from the looks of this map.  Orcs in Siege Towers, Nazgul on fell beasts.  The walls must be defended if Minas Tirith is going to hold.  The pacing is great, and the action is intense.  I'm not all that great at the controls, so I take a beating at first, but I quickly think I get the hang of it after spamming the different attack buttons and noting the results.  Soon, I am Gandalf the White, and I'm making a major dent in the Orcs which are streaming over the wall. 

Occasionally I take a bit of input from the EA demo guy who is showing us the ropes.  I'm told that I need to head to the tower and make sure the catapult is manned, so I start hacking my way towards the tower. When I get there I find that not only is the Catapult important to us as defenders, but that the Nazgul themselves see this catapult as a key target to knock out.  They have sent a Fell Beast with a Nazgul to take care of poor Gandalf.  A battle takes place and after a handful of passes the Nazgul is shot out of the sky by Gandalf.  This of course wasn't such a great idea as now the way back is now blocked by a very large carcass of the dead beastie.   Now it is time for Gandalf to jump over the wall and make his way around the dead Fell Beast.  At this point I turn the game over to Jonathan to play. 

The next level Jonathan and I get to play is the multiplayer map they have for us.  I think the level is Osgiliath.  This time it's Gimli and Aragorn fighting their way into part of the ruined city.  The screen is not split, so Jonathan and I have to work together to go anywhere.  At first this is annoying as I want to go explore the level a bit.  But I soon change my mind.  Gimli isn't all that bad of a guy to have watching your back, and I get smacked around rather handedly.  After working out the whole Team concept, Jonathan and I are off to slay Orcs.  There are spears littering the battle field.  I pick one up and impale an orc on it.  Ever so often a rather large Troll shows up and smacks us around.  Jonathan and I are thankful for the unlimited lives feature of the demo.   After getting owned by a Troll our guide tells us that we should have saved those spears for the Troll.  Of course I should have known this because Aragorn uses the Spears in Fellows on the Troll to good effect.

So all in all, how was the game?  In a word Good!  If I owned any one of the consuls that this game was coming out on, I would purchase it.  Would I purchase it on the PC. Probably not.  This game is definitely a consol game and is a lot of fun, and I can't see playing it on a computer.  It just has that consol feel that needs a television and a living room instead of a desk.

Also I should mention that, the footage from Return of the King looks amazing, and I look forward to seeing more of the footage they have from Return of the King.  

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