reviews\ Jan 25, 2009 at 7:00 pm

The Lord of the Rings: Conquest - 360 - Review

Oh, beware the evil eye of Sauron that is always open and fixed on bringing destruction to the world around him. Many a noble man and woman have fallen victim to the One Ring that drains the life of anyone foolish enough to be sucked in by its allure. Alas, the forces of good have put up a brave fight but The Lord of the Rings: Conquest for the Xbox 360 just isn’t able to be that fun game that will have you glad to be riding into the Pelennor Fields with Aragon and Legolas. Yes, it must be the work of that evil Sauron.

One ring to rule them all ... 

Then again, there are a number of other reasons that keep Conquest from being that straight-up action game that takes most of the elements from Star Wars: Battlefront but adds The Lord of the Rings’ director Peter Jackson’s vision into the mix. With a few scenes from the films, the trilogy’s wonderful art design as well as the likeness of the actors, Conquest allows gamers to participate in a number of memorable battles across all three movies. You’ll even get to play as familiar heroes as well when the option comes up during a battle.


Like Star Wars: Battlefront, the game contains a Quick Play mode with a few game match types you can add to any of the available maps. There are also different classes to pick such as an archer, a mage, a warrior and even a backstabbing scout. The good news is that there’s not only one campaign mode but actually two that allow you to play as the heroes (War of the Ring) and the other - Rise of Sauron - as the evil side.

War of the Ring goes through a rather lengthy campaign that puts you in the role of those brave warriors that fought to save Middle-earth from the forces of Sauron. It is here that we experience memorable battles such as battle for Helm’s Deep, the assault on Saruman’s tower in Isengard as well as the massive battle of Pelennor Fields. You’ll fight through the orc and troll hordes in the Mines of Moria as well as fight onwards towards the Black Gates. To top it all off, you just won’t be taking up the role of no-name warriors but also heroes such as Gandalf, Gimli and Elrond just to name a few of heroes. There are even moments when you can become a Tree Ent.

I would have followed you to the ends of Mordor

While War of the Ring is fun, it’s also great to be on the side of evil and that’s exactly what you get to do in Rise of Sauron. Played as a “what if” scenario, you see the battle through the eyes of evil orcs or the Balrog itself as you attempt to destroy the forces of good in the name of Sauron. What if Frodo had kept the ring instead of destroying it? Well, we get to see this scenario played out in an attack on the Shire itself just like in Frodo’s vision of what might happen if they were to fail in their task. It’s good stuff.


Unfortunately, the game is riddled with a number of annoying and oftentimes game crippling issues. One glaring annoyance comes in the form of the controls that are often unresponsive and sometimes there’s even a delay. This is seen more when you play as a warrior, which is why I prefer taking up the role of archer. Then again, there are moments when a warrior is needed and the fact that warriors are so clunky you will find yourself dying often or suffering a defeat. In the game mode Capture the One Ring, I accidentally dropped to my death, which led to allies and enemies jumping to their deaths to get a ring that fell in the bottom of a river of lava. I had to restart the match or just select Quit in the main menu.

Speaking of allies and enemies, the AI is another of the game’s flawed features. Your allies are hardly helpful or willing to defend you when you carry an important item to its destination. Even your enemies are prone to falling to their deaths on bridge when they overcrowd it and for some reason they all seem to target only you even when you don’t have anything important with you. Then there are the instant deaths that will have you restarting from the very beginning.  

Run, fools.

Thanks to the awful controls, it’s hard to really enjoy the more interesting battles and decently designed maps that also include wargs and horses you can ride. Quick Play also has some great modes such as Conquest, Capture the One Ring (which plays like a typical Capture the Flag match), Team Deathmatch and Deathmatch modes. Up to 16 players can take each another on via Xbox Live and there is also a co-op mode that allows you and a friend to take on computer-controlled enemies.

On the visual front, Conquest features some murky textures and clunky-looking characters that would feel right at home if this were an original Xbox game. Some of the maps, such as the Mines of Moria, look horrible while maps such as the Black Gates or Isengard are not bad at all seeing as they use the trilogy’s set design. At least the visual effects are nice and the heroes look just like the actors that portray them in the film.


At least the game’s sound fairs a lot better than the unimpressive graphics. It’s great to hear actor Hugo Weaving (who plays Elrond in the movies) narrating the campaign mode’s story. Even better, there’s also the trilogy’s Howard Shore score that plays throughout the game. The overall voice acting isn’t bad at all and the sound effects are plentiful and good.

In the end, The Lord of the Rings: Conquest just doesn’t quite capture the fun and grandeur of the epic trilogy. Yes, it does have all the right essentials and yes it’s great to see a Rings game that’s almost identical to Star Wars: Battlefront, but there’s just too much working against this game. This is too bad seeing as the trilogy has many truly memorable battles. If you’re a hardcore fan then I suggest you give this one a try. Otherwise, it’s best to simply dust off past Rings favorites that don’t feel like they’re under the evil spell of Sauron.

Review Scoring Details for The Lord of the Rings: Conquest

Gameplay: 6.5
Using the fun Star Wars: Battlefront style, Conquest has all the right elements but they’re not implemented as smoothly or as it should have been on the Xbox 360. The controls make for some frustrating button-mashing battles even with some fun match types or the various heroes you can use on the many battlefields.

Graphics: 6.5
Unattractive character models and an occasionally jerky framerate will make the characters move like clunky robots. Sure, the backgrounds look all right and there’s some solid visual effects, but this looks more like an original Xbox game.

Sound: 8.5
The brilliant and unforgettable score from the trilogy plays throughout the game including the pause menu so you can’t ask for a better soundtrack. The overall background noises and sound effects are awesome and the voice acting is excellent.

Difficulty: Medium/Hard
As a single-player game, you will find that the uneven AI and the poor controls will play a role in your defeat and you will definitely die way too many times so very easily during the game’s campaign modes.

Concept: 7.0
The Lord of the Ring fans will definitely like the idea of raiding the Shire in the Rise of Sauron campaign or taking down Olephants as Legolas in a game that plays much like Star Wars: Battlefront. There are also some interesting modes including a decent online multiplayer mode.

Multiplayer: 7.5
Playing the game online does fix many of the annoying AI issues seeing as you’ll have actual players taking up the roles of allies as well as enemies. The many game modes, including Capture the One Ring was definitely made for multiplayer fun.

Overall: 6.5
It’s sad to see such great potential go so wrong and while The Lord of the Rings: Conquest isn’t awful, it just isn’t as amazing as the trilogy itself. If you’re a huge fan of the films who is patient enough to put up with a number of annoyances, then this game might be for you. Those who can’t are better off skipping this one.

Above Average

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