I’m pretty excited, truth be told. I have here, right next to me as I write this, the glowing green CD case that contains Universal Interactive’s Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring for XBox. First off, I’ll be really glad when someone trims down the titles of these games. Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring is a mouthful. I know that there’s little choice in the matter, but it’s a thought process combined with a little tongue twirling nonetheless. I suppose it comes with the territory known as Middle Earth.
Ah yes, Middle Earth. With this glowing green box and the black CD inside of it, I am going to be able to find a portal into my beloved Middle Earth. At least, that’s the idea behind the games. I HOPE that’s the idea behind the games. Well, whether it is or not, that’s MY goal in playing these games. I have, for many, many, many years…been searching for a doorway into Middle Earth. So far, the only doorway that has worked (for me) is the one called THE BOOKS. And now? Now, I have a CD, a manual, and a Meriadoc “Merry” Brandybuck trading card that may just get me there as well.
But, will it?
That’s what we’re going to find out. Universal Interactive’s Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring for XBox, (there’s that long title again!), is guesstimated to be around 30 hours of gameplay. 30 hours of immersing YOU, the gameplayer, in the trials and tribulations of being Frodo, Aragorn, and Gandalf. You start in the Shire and make your way to the River Anduin. What happens in between? The books.
Yes, the Universal Interactive games are the ones based on THE BOOKS. The book fans, the Purists, the original explorers of Middle Earth already KNOW what the key to unlocking the door to Middle Earth is: THE BOOKS. Since these games are based on the books, it is logical to conclude that they probably have the strength and foundation to be doorways as well.
We shall see. Being that there are a guesstimated 30 hours of gameplay, and taking into account that I am required to participate in the “real world” on a daily basis, it’s going to take me a few days to play this game. (Just kidding! More like a few weeks, probably!) That being the case, if you so choose, you will get to enter this adventure with me and peer over my shoulder as I experience Universal Interactive’s Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring for XBox.
So, let’s begin with what all good adventures should begin with: A Prelude.
I tore through the shrink wrap last night as I was just way too excited about seeing what my trading card was going to be. Yes, there are trading cards, (well, one, anyhow), inside of the glowing green XBox CD case. I’m not real sure what you’re supposed to do with them. After looking over the manual and the promotion sheet that came with the game, I’m still not sure. However, the card is very nice. Mine is Merry. He’s a VERY cute Merry. I just don’t know what to do with Merry (the card).
Being a technical writer in the real world, I actually do peruse game manuals before I play a game. I read them to see what buttons I need to put my fingers and thumbs on, find where the pause gizmo is, and where the jump button is, (don’t ask, I just like to jump my characters around..and sometimes it pays off!) So, how does the Universal Interactive Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring for XBox shape up? Based on three “look throughs” so far, it shapes up pretty well. It’s pretty, but I expected that. Dwarven Runes on the cover with the super duper nice Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring UI font makes you want to keep this manual clean and tidy. Spill a Coke on this manual and it’s sacrilege. Dog-ear the pages, and you will suffer. Basically, hands off my manual (especially if you haven’t washed them); it IS now a part of the Lord of the Rings universe. Sort of.
The warnings on the first page rather worry me, though. I’m primarily a PC gamer so TV consoles are new to me, (okay, they’re pretty much new to everyone, especially these high tech babies). The first warning seems valid: If you start having seizures, stop playing. Makes sense. Although, if you see a Ringwraith coming and you can’t get away, having a seizure seems pretty normal to me. Yet, UI is correct: Turn off the game, Ringwraith dissipates and seizure stops. I like this strategy.
Universal Interactive Game Manual
The next warning is about how to protect your television; some images from this game apparently can burn into your tv screen. Hmmm, sounds like a plot worthy of Sauron’s authoring. Could UI be in league with the Dark Lord? Read this line, “….static images….may ‘burn in’ to the screen, causing a permanent shadow…” Yep, that’s a plot from the Dark Lord; I’m sure of it. Careful of this one, mellyn, we don’t want any permanent shadows lingering once the gameplay stops.
The manual is clear and concise, at least, it is without having played the game yet. (THAT commences tonight!) From what I can gather, I can expect to begin as Frodo, in the Shire, with rocks and apples for range weapons. I pray that no Ringwraiths show up and/or that their horseys like apples. Frodo can put on the One Ring but I had better be careful as my purity will be tainted by this action. BUT… I will also enter some kind of “shadow world” with secret areas if I DO put on the One Ring. AAAA! What to do!? What to do?! Secret areas to explore that can only be accessed when I put on the One Ring; but, if I do, my purity is in danger! Well, my purity is pretty much shot anyhow….(Actually, I saw what this does to Frodo at DragonCon during UI’s demonstration of the game and you DON’T want your purity going South…to Mordor…bad juju….get it?)
Universal Interactive Game Manual
What else? You can get Sting, (it glows when orcs are around!); you can get Anduril; you can get Glamdring, (it glows when orcs are around!); you get magic with Gandalf, ( I can’t wait to blast some oogie boogies with Staff Strike and Chain Lightning!); and Aragorn has a bow and arrows. From the back cover, it looks like orcs have green blood, (yuck), and that some other nasty has green breath. Green breath, I’m guessing, can’t be good.
So, that’s it for our prelude. I will enter UI’s Middle Earth tonight, in the Shire, and see how far I can get. Will I have to use the One Ring? Will I make it as far as Tom Bombadil’s? How many sidequests will I get in the Shire? I will be sure to keep you updated! So, come along with me to Middle Earth and we’ll see how tainted we become!