History Lessons
lord of the rings thing
History Lesson: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

I’d like to indulge you with a game I thought was good. No, it wasn’t Mario or Sonic before their hanging. It was something much, much better. I’m speaking of course about The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Now, while some may think that movie licensed games are horrible (and I’m not inclined to disagree), this one is a diamond in the sea of messy, brown poo.

Made by the now defunct Stormfront Studios and published by Electronic Arts, The Two Towers covered both the first movie and the second movie. While a slight bit confusing, I’d say it was a good call considering the game they made on the first movie sucked my balls. The Two Towers may be the best Lord of the Rings game I’ve played, besides the PC series Battle for Middle Earth, and it far surpasses any other game featuring Viggo Mortenson.

Now, I want to make it known that I hate the “hack and slash” genre of games that polluted 2001 through 2006. I guess “hack and slash” came from the “beat ‘em up” games of the early arcade days, and anyone can see that considering the similarities of both kinds of games. Both games suck, but The Two Towers does nearly everything right.

The game takes you to the two film’s locations, but staying true to its genre, it makes you fight every enemy ever. Who you fight with though is your choice, be it Aragorn, Legolas or Gimli. In the prologue however, you’re forced to play as Isildur and fight in the first movie’s opening scene. Oh, and you also have to play as Aragorn during the attack on Weathertop where Frodo is stabbed by a Morgul blade.

After that, you’re tasked with continuing the Quest of the Ring where the Council of Elrond has already taken place, and you’re now a member of the Fellowship. You follow the path of the movies, but you’re given a lot more actions, and then a boss fight through each level. While the enemies are just normal orcs and goblins, the bosses are actually quite fun, ranging from the Watcher in the Water to a cave troll and, even Saruman at the end-game bonus level.

It follows the first movie until the Fellowship splits up, and then follows the path of the three hunters all the way to Helm’s Deep. I’d say it follows the movies pretty well, but I honestly have no idea how Aragorn, Legolas or Gimli were there to defend the Westfold of Rohan since King Theoden said it happened before Eomer was banished, and that’s when they meet the three.  So basically, if you’ve seen the movies or read the books, you know what’s going on.

The gameplay is well done, and although the levels feel linear, I liked playing them and often did more than once. Of course, you could take in the fact that I was fourteen when I first played the game, and that was two years after it was released. But, I did play it again earlier, and I still find it to be one of the greatest games I’ve played.

I guess the only things I could really say about this game are just nit-picky and modernized, but I’m still going to state them. The graphics back then were lauded well and even won Stormfront a wholly deserved award for visual engineering by the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences in 2003, but now the presentation looks very dated. While you could say that about any game before 2009, I feel it’s especially true for The Two Towers, even on the Xbox (which arguably had the best visuals). The role play elements (progression system) could have been a bit better, considering I still have no idea how to kill anything perfectly, but that could be because I’m bad at games. You were rated for killing enemies, and I don’t think that may have been the best thing for the game. Sure, it makes it seem a little more like an arcade game, but I just think they added it in for you to get more combos. The game was also a bit buggy, but what game has zero bugs? The fact that you couldn’t play as Boromir for at least the first part of the game was also a disappointment, but maybe I’m petty.

In summation, I will reiterate that this is one of the greatest games I’ve played. If you can get past the few flaws it has, and you’re not a total cock, then you’ll play the best movie licensed game released.  Too bad Return of the King had to piss all over the greatness.