Product Type: Electronic Arts PS2 games
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Member Name: mattsterrr
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (PS2)
Date: 05/01/04, updated on 05/01/04 (29 review reads)
Advantages: Film Footage (at first), three characters, Beautiful graphics. Except Legolas's tache.
Disadvantages: Film Footage (in the end), only three characters, too short
Let's face it, film portrayals in games are usually pants. You know what I mean, you watch a film like Blade and you think to yourself, the game is bound to be just as good, because software producers aren't really just trying to cash in on the incredibly lucrative Film Merchandise market, they actually, genuinely, truthfully want to produce a game which is accurate to the film and that I'm really going to enjoy. Hmm.
I've been disappointed time and time again by film portrayals, so I was understandably twitchy when stood in my local game shop with LOTR: TTT in hand hoping, no... praying that it would excite me as much as the film did.
Add my disgust at the first LOTR game, Fellowship of the Ring, you might be wondering why I even considered buying it. Well, it's Lord of the Rings isn't it? And the film was brilliant after all. Besides, the developers probably weren't just trying to cash in on the massive success of the fil... I think you get the idea. Despite being twenty five years old, I still get sucked in by Hype.
So, imagine my genuine surprise when I get the game home, throw the instructions and the box into the 'Home for unused boxes' pile, and take SSX3 out (placing that in the 'Games which I've taken out of the console and didn't put back in the box' pile gathering dust next to the PS2) and sit down ready for three minutes of entertainment and a trip to the dust bin; and after initially thinking I'd paid £35 for a DVD, and I started to play the game. It was good, in fact it was bordering on 'pretty bloody good, actually'.
The game itself is a mission based beat/hack/slash/stab/axe 'em up. After an initial level where you play Gimlet, and another level playing Legolas protecting Frodo, and an age of Film footage beautifully intermingled with game graphics, you start the game in earnest plaing as three of the fellowship (Aragorn, Legolas and G
imlet). Even if you haven't watched the film, there strengths and weaknesses become apparent pretty quickly. Legolas, being an elf, is a 'master bowmen', and whilst quite quick he's also about as strong as a piece of string in a mild breeze. Then there's Gimlet, the dwarf, who could slice his axe through six passers by trying to wave at their mums, but couldn't hit a mine entrance from the inside when trying to throw his battle axes. That leaves Aragorn, pretty damn good at all attributes.
As you move along within the game, you get the 'choice' of characters to use for each level, although, as each character gains experience points only when they finish a level, you will probably end up finishing each level three times before you move onto the next. Each foe you kill, earns you a kill rating ranging from Fair to Excellent, and at the end of the level you gain experience points determined on how many of each kill rating you got. With these experience points, you can buy new move combos but as the game goes on, you'll probably find yourself randomly alternating between walloping the triangle and the x button, occasionally throwing in a square button to parry.
As well as gaining you new moves, the number of experience points you get increases your level. When you get certain characters to certain levels you get the opportunity to watch Interviews, Look at Production Photos and finally unlock the 'secret level' for each character. To be honest, they don't really do anything for the game, as normal with such 'extras' but if you're a real boffin of the film, you'll probably watch them when you've finished the game.
I feel I should mention the 'Extra Level' although normally I'd leave this for you to find out yourselves. Quite honestly, it's awful. Twenty floors of fighting people. I couldn't even be bothered finishing this bit but the rest of the l
evels are nothing short of brilliant.
As far as game play goes, the film footage ends up detracting from the game play a little, you end up clicking the x button over and over again, wanting to get back to the fighting. The extra moves are a bit too cumbersome and there aren't enough levels.
I don't mean to completely rubbish the game, as whilst you're in game and in the fray of the somewhat panicked fights, you will be glued to your seats. The actors have done the voice overs for the game especially, and it really gives you that little extra atmosphere but when you're not fighting there isn't all that much to listen to.
Loading takes a while, but this is pretty much the norm for PS2 games now, but there doesn't seem to be any slowdown during the game itself. I, like many of the other reviewers, don't feel that this game is worth full price purchase, but if it was a £20 game, it would be worth at least 4.5 out of 5.
Rent it for a few nights and finish it, take it back and wait for the next one, would be my opinion because I strongly doubt that you would play it again once you've completed it.
But, to EA Sports, I send a Thank You (not a big Thank You, but a thank you none the less), for restoring a small part of my faith in games producers for actually trying to make a good game. I will at least look at the back of Film Portrayal boxes from now on.