Lord Of The Rings – The Third Age
With Peter Jackson’s vision of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy finished millions of us have been left feeling a somewhat empty without any fresh tales of Middle-Earth and its inhabitants. But don’t stress too much since EA’s brand new Lord of the Rings epic The Third Age should fill the void of any Middle-Earth fan.
Complete with a fresh(ish) plot The Third Age deliberately prevents players from following the adventures of Frodo and friends simply because this new epic is set during the same time period as the literary masterpiece. Instead players control a posse of new and diverse warriors whose story runs in parallel with the Fellowship of the original trilogy. However there will be times when your paths cross and you meet with familiar faces from the earlier games and this helps remind players that they are still living in Tolkien’s world.
In the role-playing trilogy of games based upon the films action-based combat was the order of the day. However those expecting a similar adventure here will be disappointed. Instead The Third Age has a very obvious Final Fantasy flavour that sees the return of turn-based combat – something that Electronic Arts has very little experience with.
But the American giant’s efforts are commendable pulling off classic old-school RPG gameplay to a tee. Battles are menu driven characters are supplied with a growing supply of Hit Points Ability Points and magic and they can even gain levels and learn new skills with experience.
Though much of your time will be spent slaying Orcs and other fictional nasties there is gameplay to be had outside the battle arena. Interaction with NPCs and the ability to acquire new team members also plays its part. And even though the adventure is linear on paper The Third Age has been divided into several chapters in which players can choose what they do and when. A clever move.
When all is said and done The Third Age is a game that both RPG purists and Tolkien fans alike can enjoy. A real pleasure.——
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