E3 2002: The Two Towers impressions

We get a chance to play through a brief demo of Electronic Arts' upcoming Lord of the Rings game.


Electronic Arts has a small demo of The Two Towers, a game based on the upcoming Lord of the Rings film of the same name. Interestingly, the demo actually starts with a teaser from the film, showing three characters from the film--Legolas, Aragorn, Gimli-and a large army standing at the top of the city walls before the orcs lay siege. The trailer then transitions into actual gameplay where you assume the role of Aragorn, battling orcs on top of the city walls and down in a small courtyard area.

Controlling Aragorn is quite simple as buttons the PlayStation 2 controller have been mapped to different actions. One button lets you use his powerful slash, in which Aragorn lifts an orc with one slash and then hits it yet again when it falls to the ground. He also has a less powerful sword slash combination, which can be useful when surrounded by multiple orcs. Of course, he can also use his sword to parry enemy attacks.

In the build of the game we played, you have to learn these skills very fast as your literally placed in a group of what appears to be nine or 10 orcs. But the orcs aren't the only thing to worry about in this particular level because Legolas and Gimli both need help. Rescuing Legolas can be a little difficult because he's surrounded by urak-hai (the orcs that are capable of moving in sunlight) that are can parry most of Aragorn's attacks, so you have to switch between his powerful slashes and his weaker, but faster, slashes.

At this point, you get a really good idea of the visual quality in The Two Towers. As you run across the walls, you'll see massive amounts of orcs roaming through the, debris flying everywhere, and spectacular explosions. Despite the large number of characters on-screen at once, both the hero and enemy character models are pretty detailed and the game doesn't seem to suffer from any noticeable framerate problems.

Once Gimli was rescued, the demo ended with boulder launched from a catapult crashing in the courtyard. In other levels of the game, you can play as the two other characters as well as access the game's RPG-like feature that lets these characters learn new skills by defeating a certain number of enemies. The Two Towers seems like a fairly straightforward game that should appeal to fans of beat-em ups as well as those looking forward to the film.

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