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I've always enjoyed turn based games but was a little hesitant at buying this as it's a movie tie in and they aren't exactly known for their quality. However, after the first battle I was hooked and glad I took the plunge.
Plot: Tactics involves you playing through different parts from the three films. Before you start each battle, you're shown a clip from the film and then you're off. The clip showing helps move the story along easily and does well with helping you keep track of where you are within the plot.
Graphics: The game graphics look just like a quality PS2 game and film clips are the quality of a DVD. Not much to fault here.
Gameplay: There a multiple requirements for the battles. Sometimes it may be a simple way like capturing the flag or survive so many turns and sometimes a little harder like escaping the enemy or wiping them off the grid. The variety helps keep the game fresh.
Controls: They make use of the PSP layout well. You use the analogue stick for the camera and the direction buttons to move. The bumper keys are used to select enemies and the shape buttons for use of different abilities. Nice and easy to learn and for once doesn't suffer from the usual camera problem most PSP games are plagued with.
Lifespan: Not a huge game but there is varying difficulties to complete it on, the option to play the game as the enemy and a multiplayer option too which apparently gives the option of four people to battle each other across WiFi.
Overall: Don't be put off by the film tie in as for once it actually makes the game better. I enjoyed it immensely and would say it's one of the best PSP games I've played.
Lord of the Rings: Tactics is a solid adaptation of the LOTR films, recreating the film's scenarios in an RPG format. The game is notable especially for allowing you to play as not only the Fellowship, but also the baddies from Mordor. Though not entirely successful due to its fairly sedate form, it's a fun enough strategy title for fans of LOTR.
The gameplay consists of you attempting to navigate across a map, having to fight enemies along the way. Your success in these fights dictates your movement, and there is also a chess-like element to the game, in which you must attempt to predict how the opponents are going to move, so you can circumvent them, and if you're lucky, avoid a battle altogether. Ultimately, your goal is to complete one map, level up, upgrade your stats, be rewarded with gold, and then move onto another, and it is a lot more tedious and repetitive than it should be.
Visually, the game is pretty good; the character models and environments are decently rendered for a PSP game, and the elemental effects from the magic are especially diverting. The frame rate does drop a bit if there is a lot on the screen, though, which is disappointing if not unexpected. Aurally, there are a few tracks from the film's scores, but not enough of them.
Though the chess-esque gameplay is a novel idea, it's not executed with enough depth to be truly satisfying, and for a game based on one of the most acclaimed trilogies of films ever made, it's a surprise that this doesn't pop with more freneticism and urgency. Still, LOTR diehards will probably get a kick out of it, and there are a few nice concepts.
Let me start this review by saying that I have played turn based combat games previously on various consoles but this was my first experience of one on the Sony PSP. The game is as the name would suggest another of the Lord of the Rings games to have been released on consoles following the huge success of the games released on the PS2 and is not the first of these games to have a turn based combat style (Lord of the Rings the Third Age also had this but was a massive let down (based on the PS2 version)) and is a real breath of fresh air in the catalogue. This game is a game which I picked up for the PSP expecting to hardly ever play but was pleasantly shocked to find that I absolutely loved this game. The game looks fantastic on the PSP and the control system is really well sorted to the console which I found with some games to not be the case. The gameplay is very simple in that you simply pick your move that you want to do during your battle and attempt to defeat your opponent which is a simple theory but the battles do get more difficult as the game progresses and so the game has good re-playability.
Learning Curve: 30 - 60 minutes.
With the increasingly amount of tactics based games being released on the PSP platform, the lord of the rings franchise finally sticks their finger in this pie and create Lord of the Rings: Tactics. For one player offline, and offering versus battles online, this game will intrigue those tactical gamers out there.
You have a choice of fighting for good, or evil, both with their own unique stories that intertwine with each other. The entire battlefields you fight on are all grid-like, allowing further tactics and strategy in your fighting. You will play through the legendary battles from the novels/movies, and control heroes from both sides, you will also control low class warriors to assist you in your endeavours. You move your units from square to square, and attacking and destroying those enemy forces.
After each battle, it will tally up your kills and experienced earned from it. You will gain experience from achieving objectives and killing foes. Once you've acquired your experience, you can then spend them on stats, to increase your characters even further.
Having said all that, Lord of the Rings: Tactics does have some down-sides, such as the slowdowns, and the constant game crashes, that just are shy of being frustrating. It is quite easy to look past these mishaps, as the game play is involving enough.
Gameplay - 7.2/10
With this turn based tactic game, where you choose where your characters go, and anticipate your enemies footsteps, and prepare strategic plans to devastate them, this really is quite a fun game to get involved with.
Design - 5/10
The graphics are really drab compared to what the PSP can really offer, and most of the environments seem too much alike each other to bring much variety.
Sound - 7/10
With clips and music from the movies, this game is pretty 'epic'.
Value - 6/10
With the straight forward story, it won't leave much for replay value, at least there is plenty to do with going through the Good story and the Evil story. However, online mode isn't good enough to be of any real value.
Overall - 6.5/10
With most Lord of the Rings games being sub-par, this really brings a unique spin to the series for the PSP, and brings something new to the table for gamers, but with the crashes and dull environments, it could have been far better.
Return to Middle-earth in this tactical RPG and decide the fate of The Third Age. Build a Fellowship of heroes or create a force of evil with hundreds of skill, weapon, and ability upgrades. Send your armies into battle across legendary locations from the film trilogy and J.R.R. Tolkien's fiction. A simultaneous turn-based multiplayer system delivers a combat unrivalled by any Tactics game. The board is set, the pieces are in motion. Middle-earth awaits you.