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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

Stormfront Studios

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q4 2002

 

 

- The best movie-to-game conversion in recent memory
- Great combat and relentless action
- RPG elements are very welcome
- Wicked soundtrack
- Solid control

 

 

- Combat can get repetitive
- Cinematic camera sometimes causes frustration
- Oodles of enemies make fineness combat difficult

 

 

Review: Enclave (XB)

Review: Spider-Man: The Movie (PS2)

AFR: Gimli

 

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The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Score: 8.8 / 10

 

lord of the rings the two towers xbox review          lord of the rings the two towers xbox review

 

Movie-to-game conversions are almost always hit and miss – never landing on a comfortable middle ground. And unfortunately there’s no real template of success.

Platformers have benchmark games like Mario Sunshine and Jak & Daxter; sports games have models like EA Sports and any 2K series. Movie-to-game conversions don’t have many titles to look up to… until now.

Before I begin my glowing appraisal of Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, I have to admit there’s room for improvement.

The action moves at a fast pace from beginning to end, complete with cinematic camera angles, wherein lies my biggest beef. At points the camera it too zoomed to

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be of any use – enemies remain unseen until they’ve landed a few blows. This bogs the play into frustration at crucial junctures. There’s also a problem with the camera cuts. For large sections the action moves along like the classic Golden Axe then shifts to another perspective, which is fine – it really acts to draw you in – but if you’re on one of these switch lines while taking on a group of orcs, it’s a

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wonder it you don’t succumb to epileptic seizures. The camera will continually jump back and forth between the two angles. This forces you to go back or rush forward to break through the line so you don’t have to deal with the shifting perspective. But these detractions seem minor compared to what the game does right.

The same high-intensity battles of the first two movies are present and accounted for, accompanied by additional ones not seen in the movies. The opening level puts you in control of Isildur who famously cuts off the ring finger of the evil Sauron. Then you get to play some of the most intense battles ever committed to celluloid. But no matter how far I progressed, I always found myself drawn back to Balin’s Tomb (even though it has one of the best examples of the “too zoomed” phenomenon) for it’s shear intensity and faithfulness to the movie. The place literally crawls with orcs! Which brings me to problem #2.

The action is so filled with bodies, arrows and swords that it can often be difficult to see what you’re doing. This too often leads to intense button mashing, which is not as rewarded as finesse fighting.

 

lord of the rings the two towers xbox review          lord of the rings the two towers xbox review


In a nod to RPG’s, your fighter earns experience points that allow access to higher-level attacks, equipment, and health. The higher-level attacks require button combinations and maybe a split-second longer to fully execute a move. In large fights, trying to perform finesse moves will get you killed. The attacking ranks have to be thinned by button mashing. The one-on-one and two-on-one encounters allow for greater combos and more experience points. Overall though, this method of increasing your attributes works.

Most levels give you the option of choosing between Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli. Each have their own considerations. Aragorn’s the balanced fighter, while Gimli is the most powerful and Legolas is the speediest but weakest character. (You’d think that if anyone was packing mithril it would be Legolas!) Each has access to ranged weapons, which are easily accessed thanks to the solid control.

The story generally follows the action of the first two movies right up to Helm’s Deep, meshing the audio and video to the game in a very pleasing way. (The actors even chipped in extra dialogue.) There are some liberties taken with the story but nothing that makes you want to question what the developers were thinking. And the developers, bless them, have included a raft of extra levels (and Easter Eggs) to unlock. There are enough challenging levels to keep any action fan happy, but with the extra levels, Two Towers should easily keep you gaming for a month. (Be warned though, when you die – and you will – you have to restart from the beginning of the level.)

Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is a very good game in its own right, the best movie-to-game conversion in recent memory, and establishes a benchmark all other movie-to-game titles can aspire to. In short, play it.

- Omni
(March 30, 2003)

 

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