The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age Preshow Impressions

EA's free-roaming RPG will span all three <i>Lord of the Rings</i> movies.

After producing games that closely followed the events of the last two Lord of the Rings movies, EA is now at work on a free-roaming role-playing game that will let you play as all-new characters. Travel through familiar and rarely seen locations as you take your own path and periodically meet with some of the trilogy's biggest events. Proof of the game's free-roaming approach comes in the fact that you can either align yourself with Sauron or with the people of Middle-earth by fighting against his forces of evil.

With a party of fully upgradable heroes or villains, you can pursue main objectives or linger on side quests. Memorable high points will have you encountering the Balrog in the Mines of Moria, defending the city of Osgiliath, or attempting to destroy Helm's Deep. Along the way, you can discover hidden characters, weapons, and items.

Fighting alongside Aragorn, Gandalf, or even the Balrog, you'll take on the forces of light or shadow in a turn-based combat system featuring a controllable 3D camera for extra situational awareness. Have your party ride horses or wargs to charge foes, and use leadership skills to maximize characters' attacks. Despite the free-roaming gameplay, key moments will feature voice-overs from the original actors and assets from the movies.

The Third Age is scheduled for release late this year.

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