Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is a new and exciting game based around the battles in the Fellowship of the Ring and Two Towers movies. I will be honest, I was surprised by how good this game actually is. It reminds me a lot of Streets of Rage with a lot more enemies on-screen at one time. There is also a plethora of extras contained within this game as well that might make you want to go through the game more than once.
In The Two Towers you can play as Aragorn (the human king), Legolas (the elf bowman) or Gimli (the axe-wielding dwarf). As you go through the 12 levels (there may be more, I did not count) you can choose which character you want to play in that level. They go up in levels and can buy more abilities at the end of the level depending on the number of experience points gained through how well you disposed of the Orcs.
This game is a beat-em up game at its heart. You mow down many Orcs on your ways through the levels. You are given a rating on each Orc as you beat them: Fair, Good, Excellent and Perfect. The higher you get, the more experience points you get at the end of the level. The key to getting a higher level is to utilize the combos in the game that you have when you begin and that you buy as you go through the game.
Controls are pretty simple. Triangle is a fierce attack, which is a slower attack but is used to break shields of orcs that have them. The X button is your speed attack, which you can use in conjunction with other buttons to perform combos. The Circle button is used to shove an enemy back and Square is used to parry enemy strikes. You can also use the L1 button along with X to fire your bow (Aragorn and Legolas) or throw an axe (Gimli). The R2 and L2 buttons are used to hop back. When you get into the thick of battle is where it becomes difficult (at least for me) to pull of combos. Fact is you are trying to defeat everything you can within a short amount of time.
There are lots of cutscenes in this game. They even use scenes from the movie and then they bleed into the in-game characters. The difference is startling of course. Then again Electronic Arts brought in all the actors to do voiceovers for the game. EA probably put some more lines of dialogue in that is not contained in the film elements from either movie. It is great to hear the actual actor’s voices in the game. There are also extras with interviews with some of the cast. Sir Ian McKellan’s interview is especially interesting as he says he has never played a video game in his life and that his mind-eye coordination is too poor to do so. Although he sounds glad to have been able to do the voiceover for the game.
If there is one downside to the game, it is a relatively short game. I believe I beat it in under 5 hours. There is enough there for you to go through the game multiple times. Playing as the different characters and unlocking their secret levels (they have to be at level 10 for it to unlock) and unlocking a secret character as the final objective. There is enough replay opportunities here, I just do not know how many will go to those lengths.
I would like to point out that the Helm’s Deep battles are easily the most interesting in the whole game. I know it took me several times to get through the last stage as it has you running around everywhere while trying to guard a door. There are tons of Orcs everywhere and you just seem so outclassed. Eventually I beat the game though.
The level graphics are also very good. The trees look lifelike and the whole movie world seems to have transferred to the game quite well. It is apparent that EA and New Line were working hand-in-hand with this game. Movies with game appeal should do more of this kind of thing in my opinion. It would probably make more movie-to-game transitions better. You get the music from the movies, which is excellent to begin with. EA has also brought back all the actors to do voiceovers for their characters. The clanging of swords sounds real and the surround speakers were used quite a bit. Even when you die your bass gets pretty loud as the sound of Sauron come on the screen with the eye. Overall this is one of the best aural experiences ever. I cannot wait to hear the X-Box version in Dolby Digital 5.1 (I hope). Controlling the game is easy, pulling off combos is not as easy. This is why the score is a bit lower than usual. I basically used my fierce and speed attacks throughout most of the game. I enjoyed using the bow and axe as well for long-range attacks. The combos should have been a bit easier or there should have been less enemies on the screen so you had more ample time to pull of the combos. This game is simply fun. It is pretty much a button-masher, but it is a very good button-masher. There are a few boss battles in this game and some of them are quite interesting. You have to use a different strategy when fighting some of the bosses. In some cases the other characters help you in your quest, but for the most part you are all alone.
One of the biggest strikes against this game is that it is not 2-player. It would have given this game more depth if the option were here. I think the game would work well that way and we could even have a true Streets of Rage type game. This all depends on how much you like DVD movie type extras. At certain levels with certain characters you unlock different extras such as interviews, sketches, game production, extra levels, etc. The trouble is once you go through the game once are you going to want to go through the game again? I would play it again just for the Helm’s Deep missions, but not for the rest of it.