War of the Ring Impressions

We take a look at Liquid Entertainment's upcoming real-time strategy game at Gen Con Indy 2003.

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We were graciously received by publisher Vivendi Universal at the Gen Con consumer show in Indianapolis and shown an updated version of The Lord of the Rings: War of the Ring, the colorful real-time strategy game based on J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy novel series. War of the Ring has come along well since E3--we were informed that all of the game's levels are complete and implemented, and that much more of the game's units and scenery have been added, including the gigantic fortress of Dol'Godor, which lies at the heart of Mirkwood Forest. A representative explained that several of the game's single-player maps may appear more than once during the campaign, since the single-player game will require you to play as both the forces of good and the forces of evil.

The gameplay itself will feature many of the trappings of traditional real-time strategy games, such as resource gathering, base building, and unit production, though in War of the Ring, you'll often lead your armies with a unique hero unit taken right out of the novels, such as Gimli, Legolas, Aragorn, or Boromir. And in keeping with the agreement between Vivendi Universal and The Tolkien Group (the official group charged with responsibility for the author's intellectual property), many of the game's battles will actually be based on conflicts from the novels.

However, since War of the Rings is also a new real-time strategy game, it will have modern real-time strategy features, such as "aura" effects for each hero unit that improve the strength, speed, or some other aspect of any nearby friendly troops, similar to the "auras" of Warlords Battlecry and Warcraft III. Accomplished heroes can accumulate power points that they can save up to use hero abilities, such as summoning a balrog, the gigantic fiery demon that Gandalf did battle with at the end of The Fellowship of the Ring. The balrog is impressively huge and carries a flaming sword that burns and smolders, but it can be maintained in the game only for a limited time. Hero powers such as these may likely turn the tide of battle and are to be used carefully. War of the Ring is scheduled for release later this year.

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