Reviews: The Lord Of The Rings The Third Age

My Favourite Game of all Time!

Yes, The Third Age is my #1 favourite game. I've played through it at least 20 times — the only reason I stopped is that my PS2 broke. And now that we have a new PS2, I'm playing through it again!

Let's start with the bad stuff. Despite taking place in Middle-earth, the game's plot and characters...aren't great. The story has plot holes you can drive a Mumak through (how did Berethor get entranced both by Saruman AND the Witch-king? And why didn't Morwen ever recognize him until the end of the game?), and thanks to being exclusively based on the films, doesn't utilize Tolkien's fiction as well as it could. The characters are little more than a face and a name, with little real development.

Once in a while you'll get something that's a complete Game Breaker. Save for a few specific fights, unless you have no idea what you're doing, the game becomes laughably easy. Whether it's Berethor casting War Cry to get his allies a free attack, or Idrial preemptively rezzing you with Aura of the Valar, or Hadhod bringing down the wrath of Aule himself with Flames of Ruin, 99/100 times your enemies are Elite Mook-level at best.

And...that's where the flaws end. The game's graphics are amazing for the time (fun fact: at a time when consoles choked if a model reached 10k pixels, EA managed to squeeze 30k pixels into the character models), it's awe-inspiring just running around seeing all these iconic locations from the films (Argonath, anyone?), and the gameplay is just. Plain. Fun. The turn-based combat gives you incredible control, and makes tactical precision key. It's great unlocking new skills for your characters.

And then there's Evil Mode. Although it's just a minigame, it's a fun change of pace, and it can be a real challenge since the good characters often have you at a disadvantage.

But Wait, There's More!! If you're getting lonely in your adventure, you can have a friend join you in coop mode! Just enter options, hit Co-op, insert a controller, and your friend will join you! It's easy and fun.

The Third Age isn't the best representation of Tolkien's fiction. But it is a wonderful experience. My advice? Play the Game, Skip the Story.
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