The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring Review

All right, I’ll cut straight to the chase. If you have set aside $50 to buy this game use the cash to pick up the excellent Platinum Series Extended Edition DVD for about $25 and use the rest to get tickets for the Two Towers instead. It’s not that Fellowship is that bad of a game, but there are just better options for your donation to the Tolkien Estate.

Fellowship is based on the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien instead of the blockbuster movie. This actually allows for more freedom in the story as it can bring out elements, characters and places that are in the book but were left out of the movie. For example, you visit the Ancient Forest and run across Tom Bombadil. It is parts like this that true Ring fans will get a big kick out of. There is something to be said about playing areas of the game that you can remember from the book.

ScreenshotsBy now everyone knows the general story line of Fellowship, so I won’t delve too much into that. The game is kind of a mix between a stealthy adventure game and an action game. In a way this is actually a weakness with the game trying to be a jack-of-all-trades while not fully successful in either.

You play three of the main characters from the book Frodo, Aragorn and Gandalf. Each of these have there own strengths. For example Frodo can be very sneaky, Aragorn is excellent with swordplay and Gandalf the Grey is, as you would fully expect, a wiz at…well, being a wizard. The game itself decides whom you will be playing at any given time. I personally thought it would be nice to make that type of decision myself and have the ability to unleash Gandalf whenever I wanted.

You start off as Frodo in the Shire. This part of the game is the most adventure-like. There are a couple of tasks you must complete with several opportunities for very small side quests. This part is the freest section of the game. But even this is pretty limited and this brings up a very big pet peeve of mine. Few things are as frustrating to me in a game as seeing a wonderful open field or hill that is just begging to be explored so I go running over only to bump into the invisible wall! Come on developers, surely you can be a little more creative in your level designs and avoid the embarrassment of having your game character doing the Running Man dance! It just seems sloppy and looks to me to be a sign of a rush job. Anyway, of all the characters Frodo is the most agile and maneuverable with the ability to sneak (which I wonder how he is so good with those big feet), jump, lift, etc. Frodo is also the keeper of The One Ring to Rule Them All. Using The Ring, Frodo has the ability to become invisible. This becomes a handy way to avoid being noticed and is also the only way to discover some hidden areas. Naturally there is a price to pay for using something this useful and here it is Frodo’s Purity. Used too much and Frodo becomes completely corrupted thus ending the game. A major problem with this feature of the game is that there just isn’t enough ways or opportunities in regenerate Frodo’s Purity. As interesting as The Ring is, you can actually play the entire game without even using it. That really takes away the mystic of the all-powerful Ring.