Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Yes, this is an announcement rant.
Lord of the Rings: War in the North is gonna be released November 1,2 or 4, depending on your region, and I am going to play that game. And crush it for twisting the lore and not being in line with it for the most part.
I hate to see Videogame Publishers trying to push more and more crappy additions to the Lord of the Rings franchise, adding and mutating established Lore that's been written over half a century ago. The original works have so much room for cool games, yet they fail to adapt them and instead fill games with their own crappy wet dreams.
Only company that's twisted the lore more than WB and associates is Games Workshop, but those at least do some interesting miniatures and write out actual character background to justify their additions.
You see, this is personal. I've always adored the works of J.R.R.Tolkien. All of them. From The Hobbit to Roverandom, over the Children of Húrin and the Silmarillion. My shelf got quite a lot of Tolkien's works standing on it.
Yet, instead of retelling the Nírnaeth Arnoediad, the tale of Túrin Turambar, the fall of Gondolin or other epic tales already written, they decide to stick to the War of the Ring era, fill it with copy-pasted characters they send into different directions fighting fictional enemy forces and make things seem like they're essential to how the war ended.
The first Battle for Middle Earth (EA) game was great, the second twisted the lore like hell (again, EA), and Aragorn's Quest was just plain horrible.
Yes, people are familiar with the story of the Ring, and while that reduces the need for proper introductions of the scenario, it also ensures that people grow tired of recycleware.
If you want to use the licenses, use them with respect and think about what to do with them.
See, Vivendi released "The Hobbit" in 2003. I'm not gonna lie, I loved that one. It wasn't as artistically refined and mature as the movie-licensed games, but it fulfilled the purpose of the original novel just great - that was a book for children!
It was colorful, with the Orcs looking weird but it had riddles all around, and especially late in the game you had to actually think and take care. It was a great game for its time.
Critics bashed it in unison, but that's to be expected. It was different.
EA's "The Third Age" tried to tell a slightly different story alongside the original fellowship, combined with a Final Fantasy X-influenced Battle system. Sadly, that game had heavy flaws in its mechanics, and the end was just horribly architecture. Suddenly you're standing on top of Barad-dûr, fighting the Eye of Sauron with sword and axe. Hello?
Fighting Mûmakil on the Pellenor Fields who try to trample you in turn-based combat just felt wrong. But at least they tried something and got an average game out of it which, despite its flaws, was able to captivate me for a while.
Now we're getting another new fellowship created by WB. Dúnedain, Elf and Dwarf. Cliché ahoi! This is getting so old...
They're not directly giving you access to the wizard they had in early footage, but they're involving Radagast the Brown, one of the 5 Istari aka Wizards. Radagast only had a minor role in the trilogy, so I hope they integrate him well and believable. Good thing they seemingly scratched drawing a new wizard out of their hats.
The antagonist seems forced from what I've seen and read, and I predict him to lack character depth and impact, but let's hope for the better.
I have to admit, the Art around the game is stunning. Locations are beautifully depicted, concepts are neatly worked out.
However, it is questionable if they'll be able to carry this style over into the game.
Fact is, this game is on my list. I'm gonna play it. And I'm gonna be harsh. Harsh yet fair regarding the actual gameplay.
If the gameplay is good enough to enjoy playing this game, it won't score too badly, but it will suffer if the plot integration is inconsistent and rejecting established lore.
I'm more than willing to give this one a chance, but disappointment will be punished for sure.