The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers Preview

Is the next Diablo killer on the Game Boy Advance? Maybe not, but you'll be surprised with the amount of depth that this similarly themed game has.

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Lord of the Rings fever has certainly been at an all-time high recently. With Peter Jackson's second movie based on J.R.R. Tolkien's classic trilogy, The Two Towers, only a few months away from hitting the big screen, fans of the author's literary works have a lot to be excited about, including a handful of games based on those movies from Electronic Arts. The company is planning on releasing a pair of games based on The Two Towers initially, one for the PlayStation 2 and one for the Game Boy Advance. While some may write off the latter of the two games as a quick conversion of its PS2 cousin, many will be pleased to find out that it contains a surprising amount of depth, especially for a GBA game--we certainly were.

Gandalf, Aragorn, and the rest of the fellowship are playable characters in the game.

The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers for the GBA can best be described as Diablo meets Middle-earth. Like the PlayStation 2 version, the game initially takes place during the events of The Fellowship of the Ring and eventually follows the course of the second movie. The Two Towers is split up into five unique acts, each of which lets you assume the role of one of the five main characters from the forthcoming movie: Eowyn, Legolas, Aragorn, Gandalf, and Frodo. Producer Josh Hendren anticipates that it will take the average player approximately 16 hours to finish each of the five character's 35 missions. Crunch some numbers and you'll see that this game will supposedly hold more gameplay value than most console games. The Two Towers has a recommended order in which to play the different characters, but you're free to jump around as you see fit.

The game's control scheme is fairly straightforward, even though the characters behave completely differently. Aragorn, for instance, attacks with his sword, while Legolas uses his bow and arrows to engage enemies from a safe distance. The Two Towers also has a skill system similar to the one found in the Diablo series. Each character has 15 active and passive skills that you can unlock and drop points into as you gain experience. One of these active skills is the ability to summon. Gandalf summons his massive eagle, which strikes at enemies with its sharp talons. Aragorn will summon either Legolas or Gimli; Legolas can summon Gimli; Frodo summons his friend Sam; and Eowyn summons her uncle's Rohan guards. Passive skills include the ability for Aragorn to wield two swords at once, to bash enemies with his shield, and to throw his sword at nearby foes. Legolas can gain a quickdraw skill, as well as the ability to shoot multiple arrows at once. With every level, you'll also be able to attribute points to your character's strength, accuracy, health, defense, and courage.

The Two Towers' close resemblance to the Diablo games doesn't stop at the skill system, either. According to Hendren, the game makes use of a similar suffix and prefix system in creating the many weapons you'll come across in the game. Specifically, The Two Towers has 30 suffixes and 30 prefixes that it randomly combines in order to generate literally hundreds of different swords, bows, armor, helms, amulets, and other items. And while Hendren says that the game won't have any armor and weapon sets like the Diablo series did, The Two Towers will have a handful of very hard to find unique weapons taken from the Tolkien fiction, like Bilbo's mystical sword, Sting. Of course, the game will also have The One Ring, which will always be in Frodo's possession. When worn, the ring will cause the corners of the screen to become hazy in an attempt to mimic the visual effect of the movie. While on Frodo's finger, The One Ring will also fill up a corruption meter of sorts, and the higher Frodo's corruption, the stronger the presence of Sauron's eye and the ring wraiths will be.

You'll relive famous scenes from the movies, like the cave troll battle.

The game's multiplayer component will let two players play through two of the five single-player missions cooperatively using the GBA's link cable. You'll even be able to play this mode using one of your existing saved characters, and there's even an option that'll let you trade weapons and items with the other player. Adding to The Two Towers' depth is its artifact system, which will unlock a third co-op multiplayer path once you've collected all the artifacts in the game's five single-player acts.

The Two Towers for the Game Boy Advance is scheduled to release alongside the PlayStation 2 game, and like its console cousin, it will feature actual footage from the movie (about 30 seconds of FMV) and the voices of the various actors themselves. Whether you're a fan of The Lord of the Rings or are just looking for a portable Diablo-esque game, this game is definitely one to watch out for.

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