Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Xbox)

Review

posted 10/22/2002 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: Xbox
I’ve been faced with the unfortunate task of reviewing Black Label and WXP’s latest title, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring for the Xbox. I’m in a lose-lose situation here, it’s impossible to remain unbiased against something that has such a large fanbase. In the end I’ll eventually end up offending someone, sure does suck to be me eh?

Anyways, you may have heard the story about the upcoming games based on the Lord of the Rings franchise. Vivendi/Black Label have earned the right to publish games based on the literary works while EA owns the rights to the motion pictures, and while the motion pictures are indeed based on the novels, there are minor storylines and sequences that must be taken out in order to create a fascinating story. Since Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Rings is based on the novel, you can expect it to include far more storylines and scenes than the movie did, but does that necessarily equate to a better experience?

I was forced to read the book back in high school and I’ll say it now, I hate it. Tolkien’s stories seemed to be too long-winded and drawn out for me. I’m not going to take the time to explain the story but here’s a brief overview. Hobbit gets ring, old guy tells him to go to forge to destroy it, hobbit sets out on quest with other hobbits. Dwarf, ranger, elf and sorcerer come together, story has no end. Sorry if I spoiled it for the people who have yet to read it.

I’m going to give this game credit right now, but don’t get used to it because it won’t be happening very often in this review. The storyline remains rather faithful to the novel. Not an easy task, especially when you consider the scope of Tolkien’s novel. Of course this also means that the game is entirely linear. Even though there are certain sequences in the game where you will be offered a choice, it doesn’t really matter which selection you choose because the outcome will be the same anyways. Some of the environments may be large an expanse but they’re all for naught because eventually you’ll be forced to follow the set path. Mountains and extremely shallow creeks serve as your artificial boundaries in this adventure. I also found it rather odd that although the rest of the Fellowship travels along with you on your quest, they only appear during cutscenes. The rest of the time you’ll only see your character, kind of like the old traditional RPGs of yore. The only times they’ll appear are during large events or boss battles. They’re not much help though and seem to only be along for the ride.

Of course you’ll assume control of Frodo Baggins, Tolkien’s version of a midget. You’ll wander around the lands in search of this forge so that you can demolish the ring once and for all. Via a 3rd person action/adventure (with a heavy emphasis on action) you’ll be able to freely roam the lands and interact with the inhabitants, as well as the environment (nothing beats hitting chickens with clubs for no apparent reason). There are no RPG elements so don’t expect to level up or advance your character here, you’ll be playing the exact same character throughout the course of the game. LotR gets mediocre rather quickly, it’s always do this or do that, especially in the beginning. Being everyone’s errand boy isn’t as glamorous as TV makes it seem, damn them for lying to us!
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