Although the story isn't quite there, the gameplay for LOTR:TTA is based on a tried-and-true formula RP'ers will love.
GAMEPLAY - I eluded to this game being similar to a certain series of RPGs. This is entirely true, as you might notice that this game's engine is very reminiscent of Final Fantasy X. Battles are completely turn-based, and you control 3 members of your party at a time. While not everything is the exact same, the actual battle system is almost identical to that Final Fantasy. Otherwise you run around in an overworld that contains familiar settings and locations from the LOTR stories. You get 6 characters in your party over the course of the game, and I would say all but one are all very useful once they've had time devoted to them. Characters level up similarly to just about all RPGs, but you have to use moves from different specialty areas in order to learn other moves from that specialty. For example, there is a character named Hadhod the Dwarf. He knows axe attacks and spirit attacks. The more attacks you use from either of these specialties yields unlocking new moves from these skill trees. You may decide what moves you learn, and you have to learn certain moves before learning more advanced ones. If you grind enough, you can eventually learn them all. Still, this is a fun leveling system, and along with the whole game makes a very fun and addictive experience. Finally, there is evil mode. Once you have beaten a chapter of the game, you can relive that chapter in evil mode, where you replay certain battles you experienced, but from the other side of the field. Doing these gives you special items that you normally wouldn't find in the actual game, and can be a nice little change of pace for when you're bored of the regular story. Overall this is a great experience, despite the blatant rip-offs from Final Fantasy. - 9.5/10
STORY - You play as 6 adventurers who are trailing the Fellowship from the actual LOTR stories. You always seem to be one step behind them, but you do meet up with them in certain instances like the battle at Helm's Deep or during the Minas Tirith battle. The dialogue is a little cheesy at times, but this is easily ignorable with how great the gameplay is. - 7/10
GRAPHICS - Graphics are obviously outdated by today's standards, but I never thought they were terrible. Characters, especially those you play as, could have looked better, but overall these graphics are acceptable. - 7/10
SOUND - Lots of music from the movies, as well as most of the original actors making cameos in this game for their characters. The characters you control tend to have mediocre voice-acting, but again, this is easily overlooked with how great the gameplay is. - 7.5/10
LENGTH/REPLAY VALUE - Like Final Fantasy X, this is quite a lengthy game. Maybe not as long as the source material, but you'll definitely get about 25 hours or so out of a single playthrough. Not only that, but I found that this was a game that always felt like one that could be replayed. Not right away, of course, but if you set this game down for a couple of months, you'll definitely want to come right back to it. It may not be as exciting as the movies, but you'll definitely want to play this one again after you've beaten it. - 9/10
BOTTOM LINE - While not everything is as up to snuff as the gameplay is, The Third Age is a LOTR game that shouldn't be missed. Even those who haven't necessarily played Final Fantasy should catch onto the gameplay rather quickly, and most should enjoy it for what it is. It's a tad bit disappointing that this game wasn't made to follow the characters from the movies, but at the same time it's a refreshing change to see different faces that are based on the LOTR universe. So whether you're an RPG fan or a fan of turn-based strategy games, The Third Age is definitely one worth trying. It may be a little older now, but with how cheap you can get it nowadays, there's no reason you shouldn't want to play it. - 8/10