|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|
Sadly, this is just one example of how the A.I. ruins your experience. As a game based on battles that take place between massive armies, one would rightfully expect some form of teamwork.
Teamwork seems to be the last thing on any of your teammate's minds, as they will blindly run from one objective to the next, not giving a second thought to formation, working together with other units, or even their own personal safety. However, bad A.I. isn't exclusive to just your teammates either, as many enemies will remain unaware of your presence, even while being hit by ranged attacks. You will also often come upon groups of enemies just standing around while the battle is supposed to be raging on all sides.
While the stupidity of the characters in the game will likely frustrate you, the game's presentation won't do much to alleviate your anger. Much of the time, telling the difference between your teammates and foes is next to impossible. From the game's isometric 3D view, orcs and humans look about the same even with the small circles of color at their feet that are meant to be used to differentiate between them. This view also makes it incredibly difficult to tell where you are and where you need to go, making players almost exclusively rely on their top screen maps for direction.
Both of these issues are only made worse by Conquest's excessive character pop-in and horrendous slowdown. Groups of enemies will often appear on all sides of you as you move about because you've somehow walked right into the center of them before they decided to become visible. This gets annoying rather quickly, since being surrounded by enemies usually results in death, respawning, and the inevitable long walk back to where you were located just before the pop-in ambush. Usually, as a direct result of these appearing forces, or just too many characters/too much action onscreen at once, Conquest's action will slow to a crawl. These dips in speed won't necessarily affect the gameplay, but they definitely make the already lethargic pace of the game feel that much more sluggish.
These problems, combined with its relatively short length, help to keep players from having what should have been a truly enjoyable Lord of the Rings experience. Playing through the campaign mode as both the good and bad guys will only take you around four hours total. The conquest mode doesn't add much to the game either, as it is essentially the campaign mode but without the objectives. While the multiplayer can add some longevity to the title, the game itself just isn't that much fun to play due to its nagging issues. Perhaps the overall brevity of Conquest is for the best as this is one that seems best left for rabid fans hungry for any portable Tolkien fix.
CCC Freelance Writer