This Christmas season might be confusing for some gamers. Because of the odd way licensing works, two different companies have acquired the rights to THE LORD OF THE RINGS franchise. Vivindi Universal has the rights to the Tolkien novels, whereas Electronic Arts has the rights to the Peter Jackson films. In the Vivindi games (the first is titled THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING), gamers can expect an adventure game that so far hasn't been hailed by critics. The Electronic Arts title is THE TWO TOWERS, and is an action game based on the movies. It is tied together by movie clips and tons of extras from the films.
THE TWO TOWERS starts off exactly like last year's hit film, THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING. The intro is drawn directly from the movie, but as the opening battle at the foot of Mount Doom is shown, suddenly gamers find themselves in the role of Isildur, fighting the armies of Sauron. There they will learn the basics of swordplay and how to fight in the game. What was impressive was that there is no "front-end". You get right into it. The second battle occurs on Weathertop as gamers take the roll of Aragorn fending off Nazgul.
Throughout the game, gamers can choose between Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas. Each has distinct differences, and their own moves that you can purchase with the experience points in battle. Each character has a standard set of moves, quick attack, fierce attack, block, and some sort of ranged attack (throwing hatchet in the case of Gimli, and bow in the case of Legolas and Gimli). While the missions don't vary to an extreme degree, playing through them with different characters yields more experience for that character and a different experience.
Now let this be said, don't expect this game to be a breeze. While there aren't that many levels, even on its normal difficulty gamers will have trouble with some of the more powerful orcs. The easy difficulty is pretty easy, while the normal difficulty will give a typical gamer a good challenge. I don't even want to get into the hard level.
The gameplay is pretty simple, though. Imagine running through the levels and being attacked by swarms of orcs. It does seem to get a little repetitive after a while, but it's still a lot of fun. The combos add much to the game and you'll need to make use of them if you're going to make it through the higher difficulty levels successfully. There are some boss characters that have a trick to beating them. The later levels also bring in some other elements like objectives (protecting the door of the Great Hall etc.).
While the game is fairly short, there is plenty of replay value. Besides the unlockable moves, leveling up will also give dedicated players some neat extras. Interviews with the cast, production stills, but the best of all, a hidden character and level are all awaiting those diligent enough to get through the game with all the characters. Not to mention there are movie clips between the levels that show a few precious seconds of new footage.
It's a shame though that there is no two-player mode. I would have KILLED for a co-op mode in this game. I mean, it was built for it! Imagine being able to go through the game with your buddy who was playing as Legolas while you play as Gimli! It was have been incredible, but unfortunately, it didn't quite happen, and it does hurt the life of the title.
The graphics are incredible. You'll easily recognize your favorite areas from the movies and the background and textures are gorgeous and filled with color. The animation is also second-to-none as there are tons of moves for each character and you'll get to fight off swarms of orcs that act just like they should. Even the effects such as the water and fire have been done well and add life to the game.
The sound is drawn from the movie THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING. The epic soundtrack from the movie is included as the in-game music and all of the sound effects have been pulled to create the authentic experience. Fans of the movie will be delighted.
THE TWO TOWERS is a great game for even those who aren't a fan of Tolkien's epic, or the films. It's filled with action, and has enough RPG elements to keep it interesting (although the replay value would be subdued for a non-fan because the extras are for the fans). A LORD OF THE RINGS fan will dig this up though and it's a definite must-own this holiday season.