The Chaos of a Besieged Minas Tirith or How I Keep Killing Gandalf – Review of the EA ROTK Game Demo

by Oct 1, 2003Games

I am not a happy Elf tonight. I must confess that I alone am responsible for the multiple and horrific deaths of Gandalf the White.

Yes, Gandalf the White.

Beyond that, I have also allowed countless Minas Tirith females to be slaughtered by orcs. Oh, and while I’m at it, quite a few Gondorian soldiers, too.

I, Elbren the Mallorn Nut, am guilty of these atrocities.

How did it come to this, you may ask. Well, I rushed out to the local gaming store and bought a copy of PCGamer magazine. Inside was a treasure that I had been waiting and plotting to take as my own: The new Electonic Arts Return of the King demo for PC.

I almost regret it. ALMOST.

Oh, never fear, the graphics, as was expected, are phenomenal. From the game trailer to the game demo itself, we must again bow down to the magic of the EA game developers. Yes, it is indeed like you are IN the Peter Jackson movie. The music and sound effects will raise your heart rate and have your fingers flying across the keyboard in your attempt to defend the ladies of Minas Tirith, (yes, you are trying to get as many into the safety of an unknown building as you can…amidst a horde, and I mean HORDE of orcses.)

And then enter the trolls. BIG TROLLS. Ugly trolls. Skeery trolls.

As Gandalf, you must use Glamdring and your amazing blazing balls of silvery light to hold the orcses at bay. (Here’s a hint: You must use the left shift key to enable Gandalf’s “ranged” weapon–which is, of course, his amazing blazing balls of silvery light.) Gandalf’s killing move, like all of the killing moves of the Two Towers EA game, is awesome. Simply awesome. Twirl Glamdring around a few times and WHAM down it goes into the prostrate orc. WOOT! It’s a good thing that Gandalf is taller than I am, and I would not recommend that you try to imitate this killing move at home…for if you do, your toes are in extreme danger as are any folkses standing nearby.

And speaking of Gandalf, when I spoke to Neil Young last year about the ROTK game, they weren’t certain that the White Wizard would even make it into this particular game. I’m glad to see that he did, and I am most sorry for all of the pointless deaths that he has suffered at my hands.

What I most look forward to in this new game isn’t in the demo, but it’s enough to make the LOTR gamer fan start drooling uncontrollably: cooperative multiplayer mode. Yes, form your own fellowship with your gaming pals and go and kick some Mordor backside! Now, really, how COOL is that? Tell me that your eyes didn’t just widen a wee bit.

In the full game, you can play as six characters, Aragorn, Gandalf, and Sam among them. You also get sidekicks, (Legolas and Frodo are two), and when you are with Sam and Frodo, Gollum tags along. I wonder….will Gollum be a help or a hindrance, m’preciousss? You can unlock THREE hidden characters. I wonder….Eowyn? Eomer? Theoden? My heart races at the prospect of playing Eowyn against the Witch King on the Pelennor Fields…EA, are you listening? At any rate, you DO get to face Shelob and the Witch King, and that in itself is enough to make me start camping out to buy this game as soon as it is released! Add all the above with 12 locations, from Minas Tirith to the Gates of Mordor, and this game becomes a MUST have for LOTR gaming fans.

I remember renting a PS2 when The Two Towers game was released and nearly ruining my fingers as I fought for my life as Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli. Congratulations, EA, you’ve invented a new type of battle wound for Middle Earth warriors: phingerkrampe…better known as finger cramp.

With the PC version of this ROTK demo, I can now add carpal tunnel for my right wrist to this list of battle wounds. But I kept playing…despite Gandalf’s numerous deaths, (where are the cheats for this!?) and despite the dozens of Minas Tirith ladies falling to the orcses’ blades. I was dismayed, believe me,and I was scouring the ground for those precious green bottles of health. Alas, there were never enough. And still I kept playing. In fact, once I finish this review and publish it, I am going BACK to Minas Tirith to face more orcs and more trolls.

Personally, I am more interested in playing as Aragorn or Legolas, but I can wait for that. I’ve already packed my bags and some lembas for the campout down the street at the gaming store’s doorway. I only have a little over a month to wait, and I am sure that I can hold out that long.

I’m primarily a PC gamer, but I think that my purchase of the ROTK game will be for my XBox. No real reason for this other than I can hang with fingercramp more readily than I can with carpal tunnel syndrome.

EA, bless ya for making another spectacular LOTR game! I can only hope that I will rise to the occasion and help defend Middle Earth. I really can’t take the guilt of another Gandalf death…


Join the Fellowship – Ten playable characters, including Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Sam, and Frodo, with exclusive voice-over provided by the films’ actors.

Form Your Own Fellowship – Team up with a companion in all-new co-op Multiplayer mode-fight side-by-side to defeat Sauron’s horde and ensure the destruction of The One Ring.

Explore Middle-earth – Featuring over twelve environments authentically reproduced from the The Lord of the Rings films. Traverse the Paths of the Dead, defend Minas Tirith, and battle Sauron’s forces on the Pelennor Fields before the final confrontations at the Black Gate and the Crack of Doom.

Wide-Open Action – Third-person action/adventure gameplay incorporates unique character paths for different members of the Fellowship.

Fully Interactive Worlds – Incorporate environmental elements into your strategies for both melee and ranged combat. Jump and swing from ropes, fire catapults, pick up and use weapons lying in the field, and more.

Control the Battle,Control Your Fate – Upgrade each of your characters with a set of unique abilities, and choose which combination attacks and special moves you will employ on the battlefield.

Battle the Forces of Evil – Fight vicious foes including Shelob, the Witch King, and many more.

Play the Movie – Live out the final installment in the trilogy with seamless movie-to-game transitions and exclusive, never-before-seen footage from the upcoming The Return of the King movie.


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