First look: Lord of the Rings Part I

The Lord of the Rings series is heading to the Game Boy Advance, courtesy of Vivendi Universal. First screenshots inside.

At the recent press event in Paris, Vivendi Universal unveiled the first material on Lord of the Rings Part I, a single-player RPG for the GBA that is based on the first two books in J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy. In the game, players follow the full storyline of The Fellowship of the Ring and the first half of The Two Towers. Players will have control over members of the fellowship, which can include up to nine members. Vivendi Universal doesn't want to overwhelm casual gamers with an incredibly in-depth RPG, so the RPG elements in Lord of the Rings Part I will be very simple, with most of the statistics and numbers being presented in the background. The combat will be turn-based, but it will provide a default AI that will control the characters' actions if the player so chooses.

The game is set in vast areas based on various Middle Earth locations from Tolkien's books. Vivendi Universal promises that each location will be as faithful to Tolkien's descriptions as possible. According to the publisher, the game features a semi-linear structure that will allow the player to explore and experiment while still taking part in the narrative events of the books.

Controllable characters consist of Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and Boromir. The characters all have unique abilities such as spellcasting and healing, and each character will gain new abilities and skills and improve on existing ones throughout the course of the game.

Lord of the Rings Part I is in development for the Game Boy Advance at Pocket Studios in the UK, and it will be published by Universal Interactive. It's currently slated for release in Q4 2002.

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