The Lord of the Rings: Tactics
The Lord of the Rings doesn’t really need an introduction so I won’t give any. Let’s take Anduril by the hand and start with the review of Lord of the Rings: Tactics, a turn-based strategy game for the PSP.
The first downpoint of the game is that the makers didn’t really try to put the spirit of the books and movies into a game. They’ve rather settled with simple copy/pasting of pieces of movie as introduction of missions without adding anything. The same goes for the menus which are very simple and never tend to drag you into that typical Middle-Earth atmosphere. Even the menus from the DVD’s are more atmospheric than these.
The cliumsy way of handling the franchise also expresses itself in the fact that in some mission you can loose heroes which later on suddenly return. This can be forgiven to some degree but what cannot is the fact that these same heroes are being used very simplistic and without inspiration. There’s a lot more that could be done here and it’s sad to see that you’ll never get into the campaigns where you can choose either the side of the fellowship or Morder.
During the missions you’ll mostly be playing with these heroes so there’s at no point large numbers of units on your screen and the fights are concentrated to a handful of characters. All memorable moments and accompanying monsters like the Ring spirits and the Balrog are present though.
Each encounter goes the same: first you move all your units to the place you want them to go and after giving all your commands, all these moves are done in one turn, together with the orders of the enemy. After this, the combat phase follows in which you give orders to attack. These are also done at the same time. This mechanism works pretty good and plays swiftly, although you’ll have to stand by and watch how things end up. There are also some more subtle rules like the fact you can’t use an arrow when you’re too close to an opponent, just like you can’t run away at that time either.
What also gets noticed here as a downer is the clumsy way the units find their way and how you need to control stear them. On top of that also the interface and buttons are unhandy, so that most certainly in the beginning, you’ll open wrong commands and menus. The difficulty degree isn’t easy and the AI doesn’t get caught on big shortcomings. Especially novice players will need some luck to progress. Luckily there are extra, unlockable missions, saving isn’t a problem, and you can reply earlier parts to gain some additional experience so that you’re stronger for future fights.
Noticeable, and adding to what I said above, is the fact that the units are less diverse than you would think. Of course I used Gandalf behind my group and Gimli in front of it, but in the end, after some playing around with the starts, it didn’t matter much and everyone feels equal. Too bad, especially with such legendary main characters!
Each characters has its own basic attacks and of course some special powers and possibilities, just like the statistics of Frodo, Sam, Gandalf, Sauron, Legolas, etc. The necessary purchases can be done as well for weapons, upgrades and potions to regain some health during combat or to use a special power. The necessary experience and gold are earned by completing missions. Little new under the sun here and certainly nothing that’s spectactularly different from what we’re used to.
Spectacular isn’t the word you’ll use when thinking about the graphics either. Of course it remains fun to see your favorite heroes back on the PSP, but the models, textures and surroundings could have been a lot more detailed and vivid than they are now. Also the animations disappoint deerly, something that doesn’t tamper the gameplay, but certainly doesn’t add anything either. Also the sound effects and soundtrack are plain and have the same disease: there was a lot more that could have been done.
I couldn’t extensively test the multiplayer mode but it doesn’t add much to the whole. On top of that, this is a game you’ll mostly be playing by yourself, something that isn’t too bad due to the quite challenging AI.
The Lord of the Rings: Tactics is certainly not a bad strategic game. All necessary ingredients for a fun fighting sequence are present and the presentation is reasonable. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t use the o so thankful Middle-Earth universe enough. The dry menus and uninspired gameplay result in a feeling of mediocricy that remains