I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the biggest fan of the Lord of the Rings. I've never read the trilogy and to be honest, had it not been for the instruction manual I don't know any of the primary player's names. I don't quite understand the lore behind the entire story nor do I care to learn more about it. I am
a huge fan of hack'n'slash style gameplay though and I've got a pretty clear idea of what a great slasher should be. You know something? I may not know anything about this ring crap, but the game based on the movie based on his book really isn't half bad.
Plain and simple, EA's Lord of the Rings The Two Towers
is the best film to video game adaptation that I have ever played. It doesn't come off feeling like a cheap piece of memorabilia that was meant to ride the coattails of the major motion picture. Instead it feels like a stand alone title that can reside on its own merits that doesn't need to rely on some big name movie licensing. Instead, it exploits that license to the fullest extent to create one of the best hack'n'slash games of the year 2002.
Because EA opted to head straight to the second movie in the trilogy (to coincide with the movie's release) Two Towers
actually encompasses both the first and second movies, also the second movie receives top billing. The game belongs with an elongated intro detailing the history and mystique behind the "one ring." You'll see the actual full length intro to the major motion picture and then the game seamlessly blends into gameplay, suffice to say I was very impressed. After that you'll assume control of one of the movie's three pivotal characters, Aragorn, Legolas or Gimli. Each of the levels can be played with either of the three characters with little to no change, completing a level unlocks the next level en route to the game's finale. Thankfully you don't need to complete each level with every character in order to progress through the game, completing one level with Gimli will allow you to play the next with Legolas and so forth. When you get far enough through the game you'll unlock a secret level (a fight up a 20 story tower) which upon completion will unlock a secret character.
While the game may look like a mindless slasher it's actually much deeper than you might initially expect. Rushing headlong into the battle will generally result in your death, instead you'll have to use some tactics in order to be sucessful. You'll have three types of attacks, a quick attack, a strong attack, a kick, a ranged attack, a finishing manuever and a parrying manuever. You'll need to do much more blocking in Two Towers
than the other games of this genre, in fact blocking/parrying plays a vital role in your success. You'll be able to block nearly all attacks, leaving your enemies open to a counteract. Then there are the finishing manuevers that can be performed after a succesful attack that will instantly kill your opponents.
In addition, you'll be able to perform combos that will also help you dispose of your enemies. In a nice touch your characters will increase in level as you beat more and more opponents. How much experience you receive depends on how effectively dispatch of your enemies, beat them with cheap tactics and you'll receive little experience. Take them out swiftly and quickly you'll be rewarded with more experience points. The points then can be used to purchase upgrades for your characters including new combos and manuevers. Learning how and when to use the proper combos and tactics really plays a key role in your success throughout the duration of the game. Best of all the combat is actually entertaining and while it can get repetitive at times, there's enough variation to keep you on your toes from time to time.
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