The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Review

This is one adventure all gaming fans should seek out.

The first thing you must do to best enjoy this game is to set aside your obsessive fandom. The BREW port of The Return of the King, from Jamdat and Imaginengine, is a great game on its own merits. But if you're like me, you'll compare every little aspect to the book and movie, and that will only serve to distract you. You won't be paying attention to the clever movements of your enemies or experimenting with your character's special abilities. You'll be noticing that instead of rallying the ghostly troops on the Paths of the Dead, Aragorn is battling them so that he may defeat the King of the Dead at the end of the level. You'll be scoffing over the choice between Gandalf, an all-powerful immortal wizard, and Pippin, a clumsy but clever little hobbit, as potential player characters to fight off orc intruders in Minas Tirith.

If you are able to overcome this initial obsessing hurdle, however, you'll begin to notice the little things that make the mobile game version of ROTK a worthy member of Tolkien's ever-growing epic franchise. While it is in the traditional form of a side-scrolling action RPG with a lot of maze-solving and enemy-slashing, ROTK has significant replay value by allowing you to select from a few appropriate characters for that specific mission and being able to revisit that level at any time to try another character or just improve your score. Currently, you also have the option of entering the Battle for Middle-earth Tournament (details at or uploading scores for each level--just to see how they measure up on the current high-scores list.

In general, the graphics are quite impressive, and the character representation is pretty accurate (although the Gandalf headshot is more reminiscent of Saruman, and the hobbits' action figures are too similar to one another). The terrain and enemies really bring you into that specific area of Middle-earth and, along with the individuality of the player characters, make this third-person adventure as immersive as most any RPG.

There are a few minor setbacks on your journeys to Mount Doom and the Black Gate. One that some might not even notice is an ingredient crucial to any epic adventure: a soaring soundtrack. The ROTK start screen features a lilting Celtic melody, but as soon as you select that Start Game option, all goes quiet. With only the occasional repetitive sword-swiping swoosh or little chime when receiving a helpful item (however accurate and clear in quality), the game lacks the film's Enya-like musical score. I will admit, however, that this might be a blessing to some.

A more important annoyance is the control setup and its interaction with the onscreen environment. Despite many levels' diagonal land boundaries, you may only move at right angles with the traditional 2-4-6-8 key (or directional keypad) setup. In addition, the attacks (melee or ranged) can only be right/left, and hits have to be pretty accurately in-line to count.

While there are only eight levels in Return of the King, thanks to its challenging nature and multiple selectable characters you will find yourself picking up your phone just to play this game again and again. And even if you're not a huge fan of the movies, this offspring is still worthy of your time. Whether you decide to rid Middle-earth of its pesky orc infestation with Gandalf's staff or sneak Frodo through the caves of Mordor with the One Ring's gift of invisibility, this is one adventure all gaming fans should seek out.

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    The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Jamdat) More Info

  • First Released Dec 3, 2003
    • Mobile
    This is one adventure all gaming fans should seek out.
    Average Rating39 Rating(s)
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    Published by:
    Jamdat Mobile
    3D, Action, Adventure, Open-World