This game's royal production values stand out in a crowded field, as does its lengthy, challenging campaign.
- Great presentation
- Great gameplay
- Good length
- Captures the feel of the movie.
- Erratically placed save points
- Unforgiving deathtraps.
Aragorn, son of Arathorn, is an ideal action hero. Though he has been dispossessed of his rightful kingship over the realm of Gondor, the pensive champion stands tall against the forces of darkness throughout Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings movies, bringing his noble countenance and exquisite swordsmanship to bear on Sauron's shock troops. The Strider is also the right man for the job in Jamdat's The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, an excellent side-scrolling action game that hits all the important battle scenes in the saga's storyline. This game's royal production values stand out in a crowded field, as does its lengthy, challenging campaign.
Playing as Aragorn, you must battle through some of the series' tensest moments, from the confrontation with the ringwraiths on Weathertop, through the Mines of Moria, to the sieges of Helm's Deep and Minas Tirith, and all the way to the final confrontation at the gates of Mordor. This road is fraught with hazards. For one thing, there are armies of standard-issue goblins in your path, ready to swipe at you with their blades or send volleys of arrows in your direction. And they're backed up by other, bigger nasties, like orcs and cave trolls. As in any strong 2D action game, there are also plenty of death traps to avoid and tricky jumps to perform while you hunt for switches and levers to open up a level's next area.
Your protagonist is a hardened veteran, so he knows how to use his sword and bow for maximum effect. A single clean blow from either weapon will kill a goblin, although they might block your initial thrust. Jamdat's done wonders with the bow controls in particular--you toggle it on with any of the several buttons that don't perform movements or sword attacks, and then aim all around in 45-degree increments. Your arrows will also bounce once off of walls and ceilings, allowing for some pretty awesome trick shots to hit out-of-the-way enemies and switches. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy also makes effective use of some limited stealth and platforming elements. For instance, you'll need to sneak up on the larger enemies to get through their defenses, hiding Aragorn behind certain background debris to mount attacks. He's also surprisingly nimble for his size, so he can leap over chasms and scamper up ledges with ease.
Aragorn can withstand three hits from his enemies before collapsing, and there are occasional elven potions placed around the levels that will refill one of his hearts. He doesn't do nearly as well when he's crushed by falling boulders or scorched by fires, however, so there's little margin for error in some areas of the game. We had to try a few sequences in particular up to a dozen times to get the precise timing down. You may find that the save checkpoints--which take the form of the sought-after Ring of Power--are a little too sparse before especially difficult jump and timing puzzles, and too liberally placed in easier areas. On the other hand, the game never seems unfair, and even the fiendishly difficult spots are well designed enough to keep you coming back as many times as it takes. The game takes about three hours to beat on the first play-through, and it also times your performance and tracks your deaths on each level, so you can work to improve.
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy is a strong audiovisual experience on the LG VX7000. Although the graphics aren't brimming over with detail, all of the animation is realistic, and the frame rate never slows down during gameplay. You'll basically feel like you're playing a good first-generation SNES game, complete with parallax scrolling in the background. There is also a good selection of music from the movies, as well as a smattering of sound effects that'll help you dodge offscreen arrows and the like.
Overall, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy is a great action game that plays more like a 16-bit console game than a mobile game. Although it focuses on finding switches and navigating mazes rather than platforming, it's very much in the same class as Gameloft's Splinter Cell games, the genre's de facto gold standard. We highly recommend it, even to nonfans.