If you’re one of the millions who have read the books or seen the movies, The Lord of the Rings has a deep, intricate story that follows the trials of many different characters in the fight against the Dark Lord Sauron. If you haven’t done either, then what the hell are you doing here?! Go now and complete this task!
Okay, so where does your character fit into the story? As a hobbit, elf, dwarf or human, you are one of the many people of the free races of Middle-Earth. Your character’s path doesn’t follow in the footsteps of the books’ characters. Instead it takes you down a different path that was probably only shown in Tolkien’s notes and appendices. Without spoiling much of the story you’ll see in LotRO, there is a dark force rising in Angmar, and it is up to you and any friends you make in the game to thwart it.
Your start in the game depends only on which race you choose during character creation. As an elf, your first steps will be taken centuries before the Fellowship from the books is formed, and as a dwarf you’ll begin just before The Hobbit’s events take place. The cinematic of each race’s beginning quests will bring you up to date, along with the men and hobbits, just as Frodo and Sam are leaving the Shire. It’s at this point that the game’s story truly begins.
As a lover of the books and overall story of Lord of the Rings, there’s no way I could fail to enjoy the story and setting of the game. Even so, I think that because of the slow speed that the storyline in game is progressing, I will definitely have to mark it down.
One of the most important elements when it comes to game immersion is also one of the easiest to overlook. Turbine certainly didn’t drop the ball when they selected the sounds and music for Middle-Earth. The audio of the game exists outside the active listening realm until it’s needed to drive a point home.
This is probably helped by the game being a by-product of not only a well described story, but also Peter Jacksons films which had some excellent ambient music and sounds of its own.
Several of the more central NPCs, ones often overlooked in the film, are even given their own soundtracks – which allows the game to help tell the tale, and also to enhance it.
The sound, I think, is definitely one of the most well made parts of this game and most definitely worth the time spent listening.
Most modern MMO’s fall into 1 of 2 different sets. Those with super high quality graphics made only for those with high spec systems or those that use stylized graphics to maximise the amount of compatible systems. LotRO successfully covers the middle-ground of these 2 sets, which in turn gives it a flair that other MMO’s often miss.
Mixing stylized avatars with intricately detailed environments gives it a unique look that is at times strikingly beautiful. This has put me in the situation many times where I’ve been engrossed in watching the horizon and taking in the scenery, only to fall off a cliff to my characters death. A small price to pay to enjoy the visuals around me.
The real beauty of the look of LotRO is how well everything flows together to create a vibrant world. A world that can easily be ignored and go unnoticed or grab and hold your attention to the detriment of other important things in game such as levelling or staying alive.
LotRO definitely caters to pretty much every gamer with its graphics and should be played so you can experience the surroundings in all their glory, at least once anyway…
There is nothing new or extremely different about the gameplay in LotRO as mentioned by the rest of the lads in their reviews. Experienced and novice MMO players will feel equally at home with the UI and gameplay mechanics in LotRO. Combat is straightforward, easy to understand and everything is laid out clearly and cleanly.
Before playing LotRO, the only other MMO I had played was Guild Wars (although many don’t see this as a true MMO) and as such it was my sole comparison when first starting the game. Even so, I picked up the controls quickly and easily. Choosing a Captain (a class which has mostly been screwed entirely to hell because of nerfs and bad updates) as my starting class was the perfect decision for me and suited my preferred gaming style of support perfectly. Having the ability to fight in close combat and heal myself was an excellent ability to have. Since I first started playing the game, many of the combat systems and abilities of all classes have changed, not always for the better, but that’s a different story for maybe another time.
The main features to keep you busy in game are player housing, crafting, PvP, exploration, questing, raids, dungeon crawls and gear hording. All of which, having spent the last 4 years doing a little of each, are now boring to me and hold no more ability to keep me interested. Any new players entering the game however, will have plenty to do and at no time will they feel bored for many months/years to come.
The sheer quantity of things to do throughout the game and at end-game are what makes LotRO stand apart from most other MMO’s that I can think of. There’s a little something for everyone in there especially if you can find a quality kinship to share it with (such as I somehow fell into…), it will make the game that little bit more enjoyable.
I don’t mean to put anyone off by displaying my dis-interest for the game. It is merely a product of it no longer being the same MMO that I came to know and love. I urge anyone reading this to at least try the game and hopefully they will come to love it as I used to. It is after all, still a quality game and deserves to live for as long as possible.