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The Lord of the Rings Online: Mines of Moria Complete Edition - PC - Review

Gw

Posted by: jkdmedia

Gamezone Review Rating 9.0 Amazing

The moment you ride up alongside the Black Pool (that body of water near the gateway to the mines of Moria) and see those dwarves throwing pebbles into the water, you may feel the need to yell at them, in a very commanding voice …

“What do you think you are doing?!? Don’t you know what’s out there?? Haven’t you read the book or seen the movies??”

But alas, they are unresponsive to the screaming at the computer monitor and rather dense when it comes to the danger lurking beneath the surface of that dark water. Of course, you know the creature is going to attack and when it does, you don’t stand and fight, you take a cue from Monty Python’s Holy Grail and “run away.” Not really. You are going to find weapons that stand a chance of standing up to this beast, and perhaps other monsters you will find lurking in the darkened tunnels of what was once the great dwarven city of Kazad-dum.

Moria, for those wanting to know, means the ‘black pit,’ and it houses the balrog, which is also known as Durin’s Bane.

Lord of the Rings Online: Mines of Moria is an expansion that does exactly what an expansion should do. It caters to the upper-level characters with quest lines that are very linear, and not very well explained in places, but that pull you along and immerse the player in the story that was key to J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic work.

The Complete Edition (the version received for this review) contains both the original 15 books (each new content patch was referred to as a Book) for the Shadows of Angmar, plus the next six books in the Mines of Moria adventure. But there is other new stuff here as well – like two new classes that may appeal to the veteran MMO games. Not recommended for new players, the Rune-Keeper and the Warden are spell-casters and melee, respectively. There are three zones to explore – Eregion and Lothlorien as well as the crowning glory that are the mines themselves. Seriously, Moria is one of those environments that will have you stopping, staring and then (occasionally) picking your jaw up off the desk.

Before you actually get to enter the Mines of Moria, there are several prerequisite quests you have to undertake. And there are some side quests, like entering the Brackwater caves in search of missing dwarves. And with regards to the Brackwater, the caves are menacing with great theme music. Just as it is in Filgogan. Sooner or later, though, you get back to the main quest line that will drive you along the path to enter the mines.

To enter Moria, you have to replay the fall of Moria session, and this is the first treat of the interior of the once-proud dwarven hold. You play the part of Nafni, called before Durin VI on the eve of a visit from the elves in Kazad-dum. This is the beginning of the grandeur that is the Mines of Moria expansion. It tells how Kazad-dum became known as Moria, the Black Pit. Sure, there is lots of running back and forth, but the reasoning is to create the sense of the scope of the Tolkien work. This is not just about running about and shooting or stabbing things. Oh, don’t worry, there is plenty of room for that. But most of the entry quest is obeying instructions and being treated to a visual display that is quite impressive – even up to and including the death of Durin at the hands of the balrog.

In addition to the quest load that is the prelude to the mines, the quests also help you upgrade armor, equipment and adornments. And you will need them all. Moria is a deadly adventure, full of twisting tunnels that can have you turned around and completely lost in minutes. The denizens of this dark kingdom are plentiful and very deadly, especially when they attack in a pack.

Turbine should be extremely proud of what it has created here. This is a visual treat that sparks dreams and nightmares. Yes, there may well be things that go bump in the night, but usually that bump means its getting closer and hunting you. It is wise to not venture too far into this cavernous kingdom without a group.

The vision of the dev team is truly impressive and it is backed up with a musical score that is magnificent and totally in tune with the surroundings and circumstances. Yes, there are a lot of cut scenes, but LotRO is one of those games that does have numerous side quests, but the main goal is to make you a part of the living adventure that comprised Tolkien’s classic trilogy. In that regard, the cut scenes are bliss.

The Mines of Moria expansion is a great reason to play LotRO – more so if you are a Tolkien fan. Sure, there have been other expansions for existing MMOs that have gotten a lot of hype, but Mines of Moria certainly has to rank up there with the best MMO expansions of 2008.

Review Scoring Details for Lord of the Rings Online: Mines of Moria

Gameplay: 8.8
There is a linear progression that you must go through that is not too well explained at times. And the new upper-level content is fraught with cut scenes, but if you enjoy the fantasy the lore of Tolkien, you will likely eat this up.

Graphics: 9.0
The halls are magnificent to behold, and the lighting effects are very well rendered.

Sound: 9.0
The musical score is sweeping and grand, epic in nature, and the voice work is very good.  

Difficulty: Medium/Hard

Concept: 9.0
The overall design does not deviate from what has been seen before in other dungeons, but the graphical realization of this region and these mines is – at times – breathtaking.

Multiplayer: 8.3
The community seems relatively sparse and while reasonably helpful, it too seems to be exploring this new region.

Overall: 9.0
Ok, it is a tad linear, and there are a fair amount of run here and talk to this person quests, but if you are a LotRO player, this is a must-have expansion. There is a lot to do here and Turbine has done a very good job in expanding the game.

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