The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers – XB – Review

A long time ago, in a galaxy
far, far – whoops, wrong movie.  As you very well may know, J.R.R. Tolkien’s
classic trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, are being remade in movie
format.  Peter Jackson, the director, has done a fantastic job filming the first
two episodes, and this game attempts to turn them into a game.

 

Despite the name The Two
Towers
, this game actually covers both The Fellowship of the Ring and
The Two Towers
.  The developers had access to things like blueprints for
sets in the movies, which allowed them to do nifty things like craft stages just
like the ones in the movies.  At times, it actually feels like you’re a part of
the movie.  This is helped in part by the way which levels are introduced.  We
usually get to watch a piece of the movie, which at one point fades into actual
cinemas created by the developer.  While these clips aren’t nearly as impressive
as the film, they take us right into the gameplay.  It’s very nice, as there are
no loading times whatsoever while this is going on.

 

And, thankfully, the actual
game isn’t bad at all.  It generally takes a beat-em’-up approach, where you
have to kill so many enemies.  But it’s not just plain old killing–there are
twists.  Some missions will have you defending things like a gate, or townsfolk,
while others have time limits, and one particular one features you fighting up
on a wall, where enemies throw up their ladders and try to climb up.  While you
can fight them, your job is to go around and knock down the ladders so the
enemies don’t even have a chance to come up.

 

Of course, it’s not as easy
as it sounds.  The game can, at times, be very frustrating.  This is often
because of the erratic camera.  Sometimes it is good, following you at a neat
angle while you fight.  But other times, especially when turning corners, it
will cut to a different position very quickly.  The direction you had just been
pressing now causes you to turn around.  Or perhaps you’ll get stuck on the
corner.  All too often I died in a heated fight because of this.

 

And boy, those fights can
get pretty hectic.  It’s a good thing you have a nice arsenal of moves and
upgrades available to you.  The game sports a cool leveling up system where you
can buy combos and more powerful weapons and arrows with points you earn by
killing enemies.  Also, you are graded for each kill: fair, good, excellent, and
perfect.  You receive more points for better kills, so there’s actually
motivation to fight better.

 

The only other real problem
I have with the game is its length and lack of replay value.  One trip through
the game takes only a few hours.  It can be beaten with a little determination
in less than a day.  While you can go through the game with a few different
characters, the differences are mostly aesthetic, and the game itself doesn’t
differ.  I know Tolkien fans will appreciate the extra stuff you can get by
playing with everyone, but you might not want to go through the game several
times just to unlock some concept art or interviews with cast members.  The
unlockable character is admittedly pretty cool, but that’s only because he’s
really powerful.  The unlockable stage is a joke – it’s basically a survival
challenge, where you have to last through twenty waves of enemies.

 

The graphics in the game are
by no means horrible.  The environments are definitely well-done, and animation
is realistic.  Character models don’t look bad either.  However, the in-game cut
scenes are really pretty pathetic compared to the film, and nothing was
optimized for the Xbox’s graphics power.  As it is, it is above average, but
could have been better.

 

The sound isn’t bad either,
as they sometimes use music straight from the movies.  It is implemented nicely
– you could be walking along alone one moment, but when enemies pop out at you,
the music really kicks in.  This dynamic system is pretty cool.  It’s just too
bad more of the music isn’t so memorable.  The voices are good, too, and voiced
by the real actors themselves.  Sound effects hold up just fine.

 

Overall, I recommend renting
The Two Towers.  It would make nicely for a good way to spend a weekend. 
The reasons to play through again may not be worth it, considering the lack of
differences each time through.  It’s still worth checking out though, and I am
certain Tolkien fans will absolutely love this title.  Bring on The Return of
the King
, I say…just make it a little longer, please! 

 

 


Gameplay: 8.0

The game is fun to play,
with a wide variety of moves and ways to fight.  The game is quite short,
however, and some areas can be frustrating, often because of the camera.


 


Graphics: 7.5

The graphics are more than
bearable during gameplay, with nice animation.  The transitions from film
footage to game cutscenes are well-implemented, but there’s an obvious
difference.


 


Sound: 7.5

The sound works well,
kicking up at exciting points and slowing down when the action dies down.  The
musical score itself isn’t too bad either, as some of it was taken straight from
the films.


 


Difficulty: Medium

The game definitely has some
frustrating areas, but usually nothing that can’t be overcome in a relatively
short amount of time.


 


Concept: 7.0

The idea behind the gameplay
is very much "beat-’em-up"-esque, but thankfully, there is a nice control scheme
worked out.  Other neat elements include a leveling up system and very nice
looking transitions from film footage, to in-game cutscenes, right into gameplay,
with no loading spots.


 


Multiplayer: N/A

There is no multiplayer mode
in The Two Towers, but I feel that the game could have greatly benefited from a
co-op system.  You end up fighting with other members of the fellowship during
many missions, so it would have been a nice touch to have a friend able to
control them.


 


Overall: 7.5

The Two Towers is a fun
experience that is probably best played over a rental due to its length and lack
of replay value.  There are some incentives for Ring fans to keep playing
though, so anyone interested in Tolkien’s work would not do wrong picking this
up.