There and Back Again....Too Soon - Final Segment in the UI LOTR:FOTR for XBox Review

The game has been completed. We are back again. In fact, we were back just an hour or so after I wrote my last journal entry last Sunday. Yes, the statements from various gamers that Universal Interactive's Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring for XBox is about 7-8 hours of gameplay are true. I'm an XBox novice; my nephew is an XBox guru and between the two of us holding the controllers, we were done with the game after about 7 hours of gameplay.

Yes, we were disappointed in that. Is it a critical flaw in the game? Well....yes. It is.

I have waited a lonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnng time for a Lord of the Rings graphic game that would bring Middle Earth into my computer. Nowadays, you get that option with your television as well thanks to the new consoles. So, the question is: DOES it deliver?

I was enthralled with the UI XBox game during the entire gameplay. In a GOOD way. I was amazed to see the Shire, Bree, Rivendell, Moria, Lothlorien, and the Anduin. Every praise that I gave to the game last week was sincere. You will enjoy playing the game.

Yet, after a week's contemplation, I find myself feeling that I was left holding the proverbial bag. Why? I have asked myself that question all week and hesitated to write my final review segment until I had a concrete answer to my "why".

So, as I often do, I made a list. Here it is:

PROS:

  • Lots of book dialogue in the cut scenes and character-to-character conversations
  • Many small "tidbits" that make the book fan grin like a Cheshire cat
  • Bree is wonderful
  • Playing Aragorn is really a treat
  • Rivendell is pretty cool
  • Moria is amazingly large and fun to explore
  • Balrog is skeery

CONS:

  • Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too short. You're there and back again before the day is out. This game COULD be completed within a single day of playtime. In the world of gaming, that's just WRONG.
  • Not enough of Lothlorien (ridiculously short time there)
  • Fellowship stands idle while you fight several monsters; and I DO mean stands idle
  • The finale is ridiculous. Shall I give it away? Suffice it to say that even though the final battle of this game is tough, it discredits any of the earlier "abiding by the book" points that the game has earned. Winged steeds don't breathe fire; Sam was not taken prisoner by a Winged steed. Nuff said.

In fact, it was the finale that left the bitter taste in my mouth. When I glanced down at my clock and saw that only 7 or so hours had passed since we had first started the game, the bitter taste became acidic. My first thought: "What a mathom."

For those that don't know, I shall define 'mathom' for you: An old word of the hobbit dialect, not recorded as being in use outside the Shire. It was used to refer to any item that had no particular immediate use, but whose owner had no wish to throw away.

Now, in UI's defense, owners do not wish to throw away their mathoms, and in accordance, my copy of the XBox game shall remain in my possession. Furthermore, in their defense, there was a Mathom House in the Shire where Bilbo's Mithril Coat resided for awhile. Hence, Bilbo's Mithril Coat was seen as a mathom as well.

You will enjoy playing the game, but should you wait for the PS2 and/or PC version? They are reportedly different in gameplay and play time. I'm hoping that means that the gameplay makes more sense and that the play time exceeds the 7 hours or so of the XBox game.

I have to admit that I am now really looking forward to playing the EA Two Towers game and hoping that it leaves me feeling a bit more satisfied when I'm done.

UI, you didn't fail completely with this game, but it falls way short of what it could have been. Hence, There and Back Again.....Too Soon.

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