The Return of the King Review

Review Format:

Playstation 2

Based on the books by J. R. R. Tolkien, Peter Jackson’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ Trilogy are amongst the most successful films of the 21st Century. To coincide with the theatrical release of the third film, EA Games has released a game tie-in for ‘The Return of the King’. Continuing the style of the last game ‘The Two Towers’, the sequel is also of the Hack and Slash genre.

While games of this type are normally uninspired, sloppy and forgettable, EA has done it’s best to capture your attention from the very beginning. When the disc has loaded, you are treated to some pre-title screen footage from ‘The Two Towers’ movie. Focusing on the dramatic closing battle at ‘Helms Deep’, the footage serves to briefly summarise the key events from the last film and game. As I sat back and watched Gandolf the Wizard appearing over the hill with reinforcements, the video seamlessly merged into in-game graphics. Evidentially the game had begun, causing me to scramble for my controller, which was still on the floor.

The action is suitably fast paced, with swarms of enemies attacking simultaneously. You must also contend with long distance projectiles, toppling ruins, explosions and falling debris. I think its fair to say that the creators have captured the spirit of the film well. You can choose one of three paths to follow throughout the game, each offering different characters and levels. You can change paths at any time, and explore a different root. All levels must however be completed before you attempt the final level. You are rewarded with various extras on completion of certain levels, including Cast and Crew interviews, and Movie and Game concept art.

Playable characters include Aragorn, Frodo, Gandalf, Gimli, Legolas, and Sam. More are also available to unlock as you progress through the game. As you use each character, they will build up points dependent on how successful you are. They can be used to purchase upgrades including new combos, magic, and increased strength and defences. All of the characters and locations are accurately recreated, offering some of the most recognisable graphics from a movie tie-in.

Two players can also team up in a co-operative multiplayer mode. Here you can work your way through the game with additional help. Both players feature on the same screen, as opposed to split screen action. Characters strengths and attributes that have been built up in Single Player Mode can be used in the multiplayer option.

While the game contains footage from all three Lord of the Rings movies, it doesn’t contain any spoilers that could ruin your enjoyment of the forthcoming ‘Return of the King’ film. Clips are blended with the in-game footage to serve as an introduction to levels. The Cast also lent their voices to the game, providing sound bytes and narrative to progress the story.

While ‘Return of the King’ is a highly polished production, it is still a button-basher at its core. Some levels are very difficult, and it takes some dedication and a lot of patience to get to the end of the game.
While the hack-and-slash style may become repetitive, it’s hard to imagine the huge battles from the film being represented accurately in any other way.

Fans of the series will relish every axe-swinging second of ‘Return of the King’, and the arcade action will appeal to casual gamers. Upgradeable characters, unlockable movies and multiplayer modes prolong the lifespan of the game. ‘Return of the King’ serves as a great appetiser to the forthcoming film, and is recommended to anyone who isn’t already ‘Bored of the rings’.

To conclude, ‘Return of the Rings’ is a generally satisfying movie adaptation with an impressive amount of detail and action. Check it out!

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