A Look Back At The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age
Next year will arguably be the busiest and most awesome year in my life to date; I’m getting married to my amazing fiancé and jetting off on what’ll hopefully be a fantastic honeymoon to the Maldives. Not to mention my elder sister’s wedding and future sister-in-law’s weddings a few months after, thrown in for good measure.
However, these things cost money and in this case a hell of a lot of it, I mean… a ridiculous amount. Ok well maybe not ridiculous as I am spending it on things I want, though I swear we don’t need half the stuff we’ve bought. Anyway, I digress. All this hubbub has meant gaming has taken a huge backseat in recent months – indeed I have not bought a game since Kingdoms of Amalur (a great purchase) back in March. For someone who, up until last year, bought every AAA title that got released this has been somewhat of a hard change in gaming lifestyle for me.
It has led to me cashing in on my old games just to raise funds for elsewhere. It’s true I don’t have the same sentimental attachments to most games I buy and I’m not interested in having a remarkable game collection (though that would be great), but I still found it tough to trade away many a game that have given me hundreds of hours of fun and escapism over the years. There was however a few titles I just could not part with; these being FFVII through to FFX and one other, my precious Lord of The Rings: The Third Age – the original Xbox version.
So when I got home from work recently after two weeks off it occurred to me that I was desperate to play a new game, anything different from Football Manager, Civilization or endless prestiges on Call of Duty (don’t hate me, love that game). A game that would excite and intrigue as well as throw my emotions around like a rag doll, a game that I could dump a fat number of hours into at will without realising. Unfortunately, funds are limited and there was no new game to hand, so I turned to an old friend; The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age.
The game was released back in November 2004 – a year after the final film in the Lord of the Rings trilogy was released. As an avid fan of the books and films it was nailed on that I would pick up this game on release. Safe to say I had no idea if it would be any good, but my love for the franchise was so great it triumphed over all else. Gladly, the game did not disappoint and went on to be one of my favourite gaming titles.
The game is based around the films, not the books, as EA only had the rights to the films so therefore had to tread carefully. You follow the story of Berethor, a handsome young Gondorian Captain and his journey through Middle Earth. You immediately meet a young female Elf, Idrial, who saves your life after getting your ass kicked by some Nazgul. As you journey through the game adds more companions to help you fight the evil minions of Saruman and Sauron; Elegost – a Dunedain ranger from the north, Hadhod – a stoic dwarf, Morwen – a bad-ass maiden of Rohan and Eoaden – a spear wielding Horselord. As you can tell, these characters all vaguely resemble characters from the film series in some way.
One of the main reasons I loved this game was its likeness to Final Fantasy X – my favourite game ever. It uses the same turn-based fighting system, random battles and linear world with minor exploration. Your characters level-up the more Wargs and Uruk-hai you lobotomise, treasure chests and loot will uncover items, weapons and armour to better equip your companions and along the way Gandalf will guide you, through the power of telepathy. He will update you on your destiny to save Middle Earth and how the more well-known characters from the films are getting on.
The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age provides a steady increase in difficulty as you go through the game and you quickly realise battles are far more tactical than just clubbing away with a sword until their HP reaches 0. You get to assist Gandalf battle the Balrog, share the battlefield with Aragorn, Gimli & Legolas at Helms Deep and Pelennor Fields with the moments being made to feel all the more epic with regular cut scenes from the three movies. In its day this game was up there with the best RPG’s available to consoles, yet was criticised by some for its lack of ingenuity. For fans of the series it was a fantastic escape into Middle Earth and my first play through took me 35hours. If you have yet to play it to this day then god bless you as you’ve missed a treat.
It’s great to have old games to fall back on in times of need – do you have a stash of games you can turn to when the current crop just aren’t cutting it for you, or when money’s tight? If you don’t, snap this one up on the cheap and say goodbye to the outside world for a while.