It's a game based on the epic movie, Return of the King, which was based on Tolkien's literature classic, Lord of the Rings. A game based on the movie that recently won 11 Academy Awards including Best Picture! If you've played The Two Towers, don't expect too much innovation though.
Return of the King starts off, not at the beginning of the third movie, but
at the end of the second. The game begins, literally, at the battle of
Helm's Deep, just as Gandalf rides in to save the day. Without even seeing a
menu screen, when you first load the game, you are treated to a short
cinematic. Then battle commences.
The first battle successfully sums up the hectic nature of ROTK, as you,
Gandalf, must fight through a never-ending throng of enemies, scale a wall,
help out your allies, and use some ballistae to destroy a box of explosives.
It's fast paced, never giving a moment's rest, and this definately appeals
The game is very much like the Two Towers, with the addition of co-op mode,
and so therefore it seems like it's the same game, which is annoying because
if I shell out $50+ dollars for it, I don't feel like playing Two Towers.
However, to it's credit, it has a co-op mode, as mentioned before, as well
as a slew of new characters to play as.
The game is short, make no mistake of that though, and can probably be
beaten on a quiet day. There are three different "paths" to take, that of
the King, the Wizard, and the Hobbits, and each symbolizes the different
paths that the characters took in the movie. The Hobbit and the Wizard paths
are shorter than the King path, but all three must be completed in order to
face the evil of Mount Doom.
The combat in the game is relatively simplistic. You have quick, fierce, and
physical attacks, the latter being one which knocks enemies to the ground.
Quick attacks are okay, but some enemies have shields that will
automaticallly block attacks. Using a fierce attack, however, will shatter
the shield, leaving them open to any attack. I found this incredibly
annoying. Most of the time, you can't distinguish whether or not an enemy
has a shield, and since combat is so frantic, you rarely have time to. When
they block your attack, you are stunned for half a second, but that's just
enough time for an enemy to attack you and deplete your precious health.
Over and over again.
An aspect of the game that definitely sets it apart from a button masher is
the addition of 'fair', 'good', 'excellent', and 'perfect' kills, which are
received after every kill depending on the finesse. The
better the kill, the more experience you get. When you get enough
experience, you level up, enabling new abilities and combos. ROTK has more
higher-level moves than Two Towers did, which adds more replayability to the
game. However, I found that many of the best combos and moves were in the
lowest levels, such as my most-used combo, the orc hewer, at level one.
While other combos may do a little more damage, they are tougher to get off,
and open yourself much more to attack, making them pretty useless. This
definitely should have been noticed and altered.
With the nine characters available in the game, one would expect nine
different styles of fighting combos, etc. Well..... one would be wrong. The
characters, except maybe being a little weaker than another, have the same
moves and fighting styles. This shouldn't be, because it is implausible to
see Samwise Gamgee slaughtering Uruk-Hai on par with the future king of Men.
And I see no reason as to why Legolas can't fire his arrows faster or more
powerful than Aragorn. However, each character does have one ability that is
either unique to them or one other as well. Aragorn and Legolas, for
example, can power up their attacks for a short time. Sam can become
invisible under his cloak. And Gandalf can erect a barrier around him that
deflects enemies and their attacks.
The co-op mode is definitely enjoyable. Me and a friend battled the hordes
(and I really do mean HORDES) of enemies as Legolas and Aragorn, back to
back, helping the other when needed. This mode of play makes the game
incredibly easy, as two are always better than one. For example, as I drew
arrow fire from a stomping Oliphaunt, my friend fired arrow after arrow into
its thick hide. However, I found one problem. While in single
player, the camera angle is good enough. However, when two people are on...well, it creates
problems. Often the angle is wrong entirely, blocking off one character, or
one might be in the distance and one in the foreground, etc. Many game
overs were brought upon my friend and I because of these camera woes.
With lots and lots of unlockable specials in the game, including interviews
with the cast, still shots, and three extra characters, Return of the King
can keep players going for longer than a normal hack-n-slash. Not much
longer, but longer nonetheless. It's a game that will appeal to those who
long for quick action, but calling it an RPG is like calling Jax 2 a
First-Person Shooter. While there are elements of an RPG in it, it's
basically an action game at heart. Pure action.