Could have been great if the developer cared more.

User Rating: 6.5 | The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age XBOX
I've passed this game about 6 times now,so I figured I'd review it. The Third Age (TTA from here on) is an RPG based on Peter Jackson's film trilogy.
This sounds awesome on paper,but the game isn't as great as you'd think.
It follows the story closely,but instead of playing as the actual LOTR characters,TTA uses carbon copy wannabes that are following in the wake of
the actual fellowship of the ring for no clear reason other than to provide the
player with the semblance of a game.How does it work out? Read on...

TTA's gameplay engine and world map borrow heavily from Final Fantasy X.
We all know FFX was a great game so it sounds like a good idea.However,
even though FFX was pretty linear,TTA is even more so.Like FFX,you can use
save points to travel back to previous areas.Unlike FFX,there is no reason to do so.

The characters in this game have no good backstory to them and are not very interesting at all.They trade quips with each other in cutscenes,but nothing to really involve you.Your party starts with Berethor,a Gondorian soldier,and Idrial,a female elf who rescues him and then travels with him.It later grows to include Elegost,a Dunedain ranger,Hadhod,a dwarf,and Eaoden and Morwen,
both fighters from Rohan.These characters have no clear reason to be travelling with each other,they just are.They finally try to cobble some semblance of story together after the battle of Helm's Deep,but they might as well not have bothered.

Well,the story is weak,but how is the fighting? Well, it tries to utilize the CTB
(Conditional turn-based) style of FFX.Tries-and fails.They should have just made it pure turn-based and it would have been better.Like FFX only three characters at once that can be switched in and out at will. Also like FFX the characters speed rating (supposedly)governs how many turns they have.Unlike FFX the enemy party always seems faster than you and they will average 2-3 turns for every 1 turn of your party.Oh,did I mention a lot of the enemies like to use stun/stagger attacks,delaying you more? Combine this with the fact that the healing items are a joke and taste the frustration.Only when you find a spirit elfstone and equip it on a character will healing items do anything worthwhile.
You are better off just letting them die and bringing them back with elf medicine than trying to heal.Seriously,it is quite possible in this game to die on a random world map battle against orcs if they get the jump on you and just decide to spam their stagger attacks.This kind of lameness is inexcusable.CTB was over EA's heads-if you can't do it right,don't do it.

Like any RPG, your characters level up and get stronger through experience gained by defeating enemies.Enemies also drop items and,less often,equipment for your characters.All characters also have passive skills that they acquire automatically by levelling.The characters also have active skills that they acquire skill points towards learning by using the skills they already have.This is kind of like Final Fantasy 9,except the skills are not tied to a piece of equipment-they are just on a list-you learn them and move on to the next.Pretty simple.

Unlike other RPG's,there is no form of currency in TTA,and therefore no need for towns and shops.I think this could probably turn off some players,but it didn't really bother me.

Also borrowing from the FF concept of limit-break,desperation attack,trance and overdrive,TTA has perfect mode which is a gauge that fills as your party takes actions in combat,but not from being attacked.Anyway,once it is full any
character in the party has the option to unleash a perfect mode attack.Sadly,these are the same for everyone.It would have been cooler if everyone had their own gauge and attacks IMO.They meant to copy FFX so why not overdrives as well? Dissappointing...

GRAPHICS/SOUND 6/10(graphics) 9/10(sound)
The graphics in this game look exactly like the other two EA LOTR games,
decent but nothing really exceptional.Definitely average.Lighting and shadow effects are good.The sound is definitely a good point of the game, as most of the sound effects for the enemies were taken right from the films and work really well.Also all the music used is from Howard Shore's original score for the films.

OVERALL 6.5/10
This is a game that, despite the unpolished and very linear gameplay,can still be called a good rpg.But with a little more time,caring and effort put into it,(esp. story)it could have been exceptional.