The Lord of the Rings: Conquest Hands-On

In Pandemic's upcoming action game, it is not your fate to sit in peace, even in the fair house of Elrond.

Towering oliphants loom over the battlefield, raging toward the Rohirrim. Orcs swarm around, brandishing rusty blades and thirsting for blood. Yes indeed, developer Pandemic Studios seems to be taking great pains to create a hack-and-slash game that stays true to its source material. Expect to see these sights and many others in The Lord of the Rings: Conquest. Two famed settings, Pelennor Fields and Minas Tirith, are home to some levels that we recently explored, and we're here to report on the experience.

YOU SHALL NOT PASS!

First, we should mention that in each of the campaign missions that we played, we could choose from four total character classes, both at the outset and within the missions: scout, warrior, archer, and mage. The warrior's broadsword may be the most obviously authoritative, but the other three classes have obvious advantages. Scouts wield daggers and are swift to attack, so if you like quick, stylish moves, you'll gravitate to this class. Archers, of course, are equipped with a bow and arrows, and you may find their triple-shot and poison-arrow skills particularly handy. Or if you're a fan of Gandalf, perhaps you'd rather test out the mage class, which uses lightning bolts as its main attack.

The first mission that we tackled was Pelennor Fields. The initial goal was to destroy some siege towers. There were a few ways of doing so, but we took the sneaky route: sabotaging them by setting them on fire. However, even as a warrior, we found that slicing our way through the hordes to get to the towers was harder than it looked. The field was simply swarming with angry orcs, and we were able to dispatch a good number of them with our sword, using both standard attacks and a variety of violent-looking combo moves. Trolls, on the other hand, were a much greater threat, and just getting near one could mean instant death. The best solution was simply to avoid the fight altogether, leaving plenty of elbow room for the hulking trolls. Eventually we were able to maneuver into position and set the towers aflame, though in each case, we had to lure a nearby troll away from our destination. The sequence was challenging and surprisingly strategic.

The next portion of the level involved getting close to enough to some oliphants to climb them and take them down. Getting into position was a bit of challenge, considering that the stomping heel of a pillaging pachyderm generally means instant death in almost any scenario. Once we were in the right spot, a flip of the trigger initiated a short climbing sequence that was vaguely reminiscent of Shadow of the Colossus, and once we'd climbed far enough, a God of War-style button-mashing sequence felled the behemoth once and for all.

The Minas Tirith level that we checked out was more straightforward, and we got to see multiple classes in action. Here, the main goal was simply to fend off a stream of invading enemies as they spilled into the stronghold. Seeing the mage in action was probably the most interesting sequence. Flashes of lightning and fire filled the screen, and orcs and trolls alike fell at the power of such commanding magic. Playing a scout during this section was rather fun too, given that the steady rush of foes was complemented by the quick dagger play. The controls seemed fluid, so it was easy to pull off impressive-looking combos and slice up familiar, menacing meanies in the process.

Ringwraiths will figure prominently in one of the more interesting online modes.

We didn't get to take part in any multiplayer action, though the game will include two-player cooperative play. More intriguingly, the game will support online 16-player adversarial modes. The most familiar of these modes is Conquest, a mode that fans of Pandemic's own Star Wars: Battlefront games will recognize. Here, teams will attempt to capture control points across the map while defending their own. However, you won't be stuck roaming around with just your teammates; battles will remain large in scale, and non-player combatants will join you in the fray. You will also be able to mount a horse (and even better, a warg!) to aid you in your travels. Two other modes sound equally interesting. In Ringbearer mode, one player will begin the match as Frodo, who must deliver the ring. Other players will join the match as ringwraiths, fighting each other as they search for the diminutive hobbit. Should a wraith capture Frodo, that player will turn into Frodo and take over. The other mode that we heard about was Stronghold mode, which is a Risk-style strategic mode in which teams fight one another on various maps to take over the various territories of Middle-Earth.

If you like the setting and look forward to getting your own hands on The Lord of the Rings: Conquest, you won't need to wait too long: It is due to be released for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC in 2008 during the holiday season. If you prefer your action to be more portable, you will be glad to hear that a Nintendo DS version is also in the works, though we have no details to share at this point. We will bring you more information on The Lord of the Rings: Conquest as it becomes available.

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Discussion

145 comments
Shadowdude1234
Shadowdude1234

Well, to be honest i'm an LOTR freak, (book freak that is) and this game is what i would expect for a game. Pretty decent and it can be addictive for people who like this genre, otherwise it's another shoot 'em up, (except with swords and arrows etc.) The only things that annoy me in the game are the mages. Gondor and Rohan shouldn't have them (I know it wouldnt then be fair) and there are too many on the field. MORE WARRIORS AND ARCHERS!!!! Otherwise, the armour for the warriors is close to book descriptions and drawings, the storyline flows well. although it doesn't go out of the movie storyline like some other games do (Battle for middle earth has some references to the books) The campaign could be larger and some maps such as Minas Morgul and Moria are ridiculas (maps to be included could be the plains of rohan. And maybe more maps for instant action. Otherwise pretty good (on PS3 anyway) ;)

masteryoung
masteryoung

I was expecting this to be awsome but after playing the demo I was disappointed, the graphics were average, the gameplay not that great and character identically on both sides, but the worst thing fo me is that its only sixteen player having 8vs8, battles just doesn't quite live up to the epic movie battles! as for non-player combatants making up the numbers, there are NONE! hope final version is a bit better but without long till release I doubt it.

goodiesam
goodiesam

What version is the best? Xbox 360 or pc? I have a silver accaunt so i can't play online but still split-screen. And on pc the otherwise: play online and not split-screen. tnx

pakcikkantin
pakcikkantin

I've tried the demo version today, and seemed addict. But still waiting for other player responses

Outer_Raven
Outer_Raven

@Oz Pvt Parts Elves that shoot lightning? What are you talking about? Mages shoot lightning, not elves :P

justinday15
justinday15

Is the onlilne multiplayer very fun?

ttam01
ttam01

maybe but i don't think so

Oz_Pvt_Parts
Oz_Pvt_Parts

Elves that shoot lightning? Oh God, what have Pandemic done?

macejowsk1
macejowsk1

I've played the ps3 demo for about 8 hours now and honestly I'm not impressed. A demo is suposed to showcase a titles biggest, best (insert any adjective applicable here) features, so having said that, the two maps (the Shire and Minas Tirith) were smaller than Endor from SWBF2. Units had about the same variety of actions they could perform on previous generation consoles. Where's the beef? this was Pandemics "Next Gen. Battlefront" unfortunately I think it is fun as I'm a fan of the genre, but in my humble opinion this game lacks anything oter the the LOTR license to set it apart from other games. Without the license this might be a rent!

patriotbrewer1
patriotbrewer1

Pandemic is garbage, dont believe me?, go play mercenaries 2. Do us all a favor and go bankrupt already.

Scooter_6_7
Scooter_6_7

Sounds great, can't wait for it to come out. I love TLOTR especially the moves so I can't wait for a game like this to come out since it looks like it's shaping up to be a good game.

FIRE-WARRI0R
FIRE-WARRI0R

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

StJimmy15
StJimmy15

at first i was siked for a LOTR battlefront. but, lets just say they may as well have ported the xbox graphics over to this game... and as far as fluid controls, ive only played online, but i have an perfect connection, and the controls were kinda slow and clunky... try it out, demos on XBL.

datniccah187
datniccah187

definately going to try the demo, actually i'm downloading it right now

ace244
ace244

sweet i can play this online for free on my ps3 :P

ahhhh
ahhhh

the demo was awesome, a few balance issues and the occasional lag, and a lot more fast paced than i expected, but i wish it was atleast 12v12, cant wait to get this!

IIFoxmanII
IIFoxmanII

i downloaded the demo today, and Conquest seems like a very good game. anyone who enjoyed battlefront on the original xbox will feel welcome playing this game.

patrushton
patrushton

hmmm same makers as battlefront sign me up!

Boozer11
Boozer11

Looks like a good concept but just like the battlefront games it will have some annoying flaws im sure

malkeyor40
malkeyor40

I just played the game on xbox 360 its great but... I found that after a players found tones of kinks in the game such as lines of players standing behind trolls to climb up the back and causing instant death there were many problems like this the worst being that and the fact there was no class cap in the game which makes it the worst game ever when there's a team of 8 scouts backstabbing one after another other then that highly enjoyable occasional giant lag problems (what do you expect from ea) 7/10

Masterdj1992
Masterdj1992

Just played demo = lots of fun shanking people from behind as well as pulling a "you shall not pass" style move.

killzone_gamer
killzone_gamer

You see, this is why the PSP is failing a bit at the moment. This is on the DS and not the PSP, along with so many other multiplat games. This game looks like it'll be pretty fun, and I might actually buy it :) Oh and Pandemic? Start making Battlefront 3 please :D Online Star Wars with like 60 players and vehicles? YES PLEASE!

rybread13
rybread13

the demo was fun....of course the real game is gunna be epic, as the demo is not even close to wat the finished product will be like.

RiversKid
RiversKid

the demos pretty good but the graphics arent anything special

rokman83
rokman83

From the creators of battlefront? hell yeah!

jedi-gamer
jedi-gamer

I'm looking forward to this game and I'm hoping it'll be a lot like the battlefront series

perifanos
perifanos

i think that it should be better to make something new.....they recycling the same story again and again.....the hobbit story perhaps....

Solid_Azeus
Solid_Azeus

same as PS2 versions of LOTR just with HD support and online multiplayer. there's nothing innovative in the demo to catch my attention. The AI is crappy, the graphics are buggy and unimpressive, non interactive environment..phew i smell epic fail

spanky333
spanky333

Are the screenshots from Return Of The King for PC? Because I am really having a hard time telling the difference.. Not flaming, actually asking.

muzza93
muzza93

if its the same as battle front but with LOTR it better b good cos it sounds good

DarkGhost32
DarkGhost32

wow this game sounds really good but i hope it doesnt fall apart...i just hope it doesn't because ive been waiting for a good LOTR since return of the king (LOTR T3A was a pathetic excuse for a game) too bad it cant support 32 people at once

Fazz4430
Fazz4430

Oh, I really, REALLY hope this turns out well... I'm already thinking about all of the ways to kill orcs... Mmm...

Yeley718
Yeley718

i might pick this one up.

Thundergrave
Thundergrave

I hope there is a Assault (from battlefront) type of game.

lamepunk
lamepunk

I love LOTR so I'm glad something new is finally coming out. It better be awesome. It has a lot to live up to.

noirsake
noirsake

sounds promising, but hopefully its not a let down. This could be something that LOTR fans, like myself, have been waiting for.

Dangerdog2000
Dangerdog2000

If this is like "Lord of the Rings" battlefront it's going to be freakin sweet.

GreekSpartan21
GreekSpartan21

u kno the first day this game comes out i am so getting because...WOOO ITS AWESOME I SO CANT WAIT FOR THIS GAME!!!!!

tsyunami
tsyunami

looks likes it has some great potential

unbentonslaught
unbentonslaught

my favorite style of game set in Lord of the Rings? PERFECT!!

kitchingiscool
kitchingiscool

WOW looking good, i hope it wont be a let down like the movie games! But yeh awesome