|System: X360, PS3, PC, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Pandemic Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jan. 13, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-16||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Joseph Catalanotto
If I happened to be playing a word association game and my adversary mentioned the Lord of the Rings films, inevitably the first word to come to my mind would be epic. When compiled, these films account for one of the biggest box office pulls of all time, in no small part due to their incredible source material, talented casts and director, and massive scope. Nowhere is this scale more prevalent than in the numerous warfare scenes that litter the trilogy.
These enormous battles full of thousands of orcs, elves, and men desperately fighting for their very existences make the Lord of the Rings films a close to perfect foundation for combat-intensive video games to be based upon. Now imagine boiling the entirety of the films' epic conflicts down to six encounters of capture-the-flag and you have the basic idea of what to expect from Lord of the Rings: Conquest on the DS.
In this 3D polygonal button-masher, players are given their choice of three different character types to control. One could play as the warrior unit, having the most strength and power of the characters but no ranged attack to speak of. Of course, the polar opposite is the archer unit who attacks quickly and from a distance but deals less damage and is more susceptible to death. Lastly, the gel that holds groups of these two character types together are the mages. Mages have a moderate attack power, ranged attacks, and make up for their lack of strength and speed with their ability to heal themselves and others.
Since each character type has its own specific strengths and weaknesses, choosing the right character for each situation can be important to progressing through Conquest's campaign mode. While having a mage handy when trying to survive a timed onslaught is probably a good idea, controlling a warrior would be better for your own direct assaults. Players will even gain access to some special units to control including Ents and Cave Trolls during specific battles. Luckily, players are also able to switch between their available character types at any point to help them complete their ever-changing objectives.
Each mission in the campaign mode is made up of several smaller objectives that need to be completed in order to achieve victory. These tasks can range anywhere from protecting a specific character to eliminating a certain number of enemies. While there is a good assortment of tasks to complete, most will revolve around command points. Several command points are located throughout each map in the game, serving as indicators for who is in control of certain locations.
If a command point is red it is currently under the control of Sauron, while the good guys are displayed as blue. Players can, and will need to, gain control of enemy command points by standing within their colored circles until their color changes. Once under your army's control, friendly command points add more soldiers to your cause as well as a new place for players to respawn after meeting their untimely demise. While command points can be taken over at any point during a mission, they will often quickly fall back under enemy control unless capturing them is a specific objective to complete. Waiting around to see what fate befalls your freshly captured command point usually results in witnessing constantly respawning enemy characters, at least until the point has been recaptured by the enemy.