Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Bill Dungsroman 12/19/2002 

Mind If I Put The One True Ring On My Middle Finger, You Whoring Bastards?

Hey Frodo, is this game fun?

As it turns out, Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (FotR; I'll underline it for clarity) is based on get this the book, whereas The Two Towers (TTT) is based on the film. You see, Black Label (via Universal/Vivendi) has the book license, and EA has the film license. Or something; who fucking cares? The only upshot is that TTT, being created by another company, might not suck as much hot horseshit as FotR does. Either way, the point of FotR is to hurry you through the book as fast as possible, allowing you to get hit by a lot of monsters and watch stupid rendered movies along the way. Like jacking off with a thumbtack in your hand, as the pointed end doesn't always puncture your skin with every stroke, it's occasionally bearable in places, outright painful in most others. But I persevered to review this bomb; read of my epic tale.

What, You Thought You'd Get To Be Legolas?

Outnumbered and about to die, as usual. Maybe I should kick them?
Gameplay breaks down thusly. You get to play, in different points of the game, Frodo, Aragorn, and Gandalf, from a third-person perspective. No, you don't get to choose whom you play and when. That might constitute fun and/or strategy, and this game will have none of that. Each character has their own weapons and certain abilities, none of which are particularly interesting or unique. Frodo can throw rocks, jump and climb, and eventually gets Sting and it sings to him in his own private little concert. Aragorn has a sword and a bow, and he can kick people. Why you would choose to kick an armed assailant instead of stab him with your fucking sword is beyond me. Gandalf has his staff and his sword, Glamdring, plus a few spells that require mana excuse me, spirit. Frodo can use the Ring, too, but it also requires mana excuse me, virtue. You can zoom into a first person view, which is utterly worthless for Gandalf and Frodo, but you can snipe with your bow (it has unlimited arrows!) as Aragorn.

Lord of the Sneak Button

FotR assigns you quests as you progress through the game, which appear in your quest log and are checked off as you complete them. Most of them are stupid. They get fewer and less insipid as the game progresses. So in the Shire, you get dozens of lame, boring quests. The first one is to sell Bag End to the Sackville-Bagginses. It's as fun as it sounds. No wait, it's less fun than that, since you get embroiled in the pointless affairs of the rest of the Shire along the way. Why does every motherfucking adventure or RPG game insist you to do the gayest, most fucking banal tasks imaginable at the beginning? Go ahead and attack me with Black Riders right off the bat, motherfucker; I'm ready.

Rock 'n' roll heroes save Middle Earth -- with rock!
Conversing with people requires you to stand just so in front of them to get them to engage in conversation with you. This becomes even more trying when you factor in that most people you need to talk to are meandering around for no reason other than to make it harder for you to talk to them. Oh well, they rarely have anything to say of interest or importance anyway, unless you like listening to some little asshole Hobbit boast of his recent childhood pranks. Is this an epic adventure game, or am I back at my uncle's house on Thanksgiving, 13 years old and still stuck at the kid's table? Close-ups of characters' faces during conversations allows you to see how stupid they all look. Frodo looks like Noel Gallagher of Oasis, Aragorn looks like Trent Reznor, except in the movies where he looks like Keanu Reeves. You lose either way. He also speaks in a gravelly snarl that is reminiscent of monster truck rally advertisements. For that matter, they all sound like fags. The few bits that Sam spoke made me want to seal off my ears with hot wax, and Gimli sounded like a high school drama student fumbling over Shakespeare. Naturally, he talks a lot throughout the game.

Characters require items to heal, as well as replenish their mana (I don't give a fuck what the game calls it for which character, it's fucking mana). Frodo can regain health by picking and eating mushrooms (Aragorn and Gandalf usually eat a type of biscuit or something called cram, of all things). Items that may be picked up sparkle, which isn't nearly the gayest thing about this game, unfortunately. Exploring the Shire fully will bag you dozens of mushrooms, which I took to be foreshadowing that I was going to get my ass kicked a lot. I was right. Frodo's combat abilities are accurately rendered in the game, so when you're not throwing rocks to distract Ringwraiths to sneak by them, you're being eaten by wolves. Yes, sneaking. The game has a "feature" which is a weird little yellow disc that appears in the upper left hand corner of the screen that turns red if you have been spotted by an enemy. It doesn't always work; enemies way up high or far away will "see" you but will be too far away to attack. Hiding and sneaking by enemies is easily the most frustrating part of the game early on, so naturally you have to do it a lot. Presumably, you can use the ring, but your mana runs out in a few seconds, and I never thought I was at a part of the game important enough to squander it. As such, I never ended up using the stupid ring at all (except at The Prancing Pony Inn and Weathertop, but those were cut scenes and they don't count).

The One True (Useless) Ring
That's right, you can play this entire game and NEVER USE THE FUCKING RING. The only places where you would really need to use it are when you're trying to sneak by the Ringwraiths, and of course they'll sense it right away. Fighting gets worse when you become Aragorn and have to do battle with evil humans (?) in Bree as well as orcs, both of which typically require a dozen hits or so before they finally die. They also usually fall down and appear to be dead once or twice, only to get back up and attack you some more. Spiders, wolves, and orcs, with the occasional troll, that's about it for your enemies. You get to fight a lot, I guess, which quickly gets boring, since all you'll ever get for your effort is a smaller health bar and a crust of cram every so often. At certain points of the game, I just said "Why the fuck am I bothering?" and ran headlong past all the monsters to the area exit, without fighting one of them. Later, fags.

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