LoTR: The Third Age Preview

By Socvazius

In the last decade, we’ve seen a huge surge of LoTR-based Role-Playing Games such as Everquest and Baldur’s Gate, many of which have been tremendously popular. Where’s the Role-Playing LoTR game? I mean, hell, why isn’t there a game made specifically for the story that started it all? Well, Electronic Arts has finally heard the desires of the fans and has addressed that desire with The Third Age.

Sparkly lights surrounding a character has gotta be good.

For those unfamiliar with LoTR, the time periods of Middle Earth are separated by “Ages” (no, not like in Age of Empires, though that’d be awfully cool), with key historical events separating each age. Your adventure will take place in the time period of the movies, just prior to the end of the Third Age of Middle Earth. And since this is an RPG that takes place during the time period of the movies, you’re going to be playing as The Fellowship, right? No comrade, you shall not; instead, you’ll play an end total of 6 characters that initially start to just follow the Fellowship around but will eventually diverge into their own, separate story lines of events leading up to the end of the Third Age.

The first thing you’ll notice upon starting the game will be that you’ll instinctively want to defeat Sin in an epic battle. In other words, it looks and feels exactly like Final Fantasy X. The interface, visuals, and battle system all look like the 10th edition of Squaresoft’s legendary RPG series. With the executive producer of the project – Steve Gray – having previously worked for Squaresoft, that’s not particularly surprising.

Burn burn burn!

While the interface and feel is similar, the storyline is obviously different. Rather than starting out with Tidus, you get Barathor, soldier of Gondor, as he fights a couple ringwraiths. Not too long after that, you’ll come across Idrial, Elf servant to Galadriel. Throughout the entire game you’ll meet 6 different characters: Barathor, Idrial, Hadhod (Dwarf from Moria), Elogast (Human ranger), Eaoden (Rohan soldier from the Riddemark), and Morwain (Rohan woman). Each character actually comes from the movies (as extras that you probably didn’t even notice) and has its own style of fighting, special abilities, and theme. Hadhod is a stout fighter, Morwain excels in theft and ability manipulation, Elogast excels in ranged combat…you get the idea.

Next: Playing the game