Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Lord of the Rings Online Review

I posted a little while ago about Star Trek online, but lately I've been much more enamored with another online roleplaying game: Lord of the Rings online. I don't believe that there are many people throughout the world who have never heard of this monumental achievement in literature. The books almost single-handedly established the modern genre of fantasy and I am hard-pressed to name ANY fantasy novels published since that don't have a core that shares elements with Tolkien's work. The amount of history that he was able to pack into his fiction is inspirational for anyone who has ever considered sitting down and writing.

Because of this insane amount of detail that Tolkien included in his writings, which include more than just the trilogy, the creators of the Lord of the Rings Online didn't need to stretch too far to find inspiration for this game. From the moment I set foot, figuratively of course, inside the world created on the computer I was mesmerized by the scale of it all. With the help of my new memory card, which finally started working thank God, it looks absolutely amazing on my 22" widescreen monitor. All I want to do is visit all the places that I loved from the books and the movies (though this game legally has no ties with Warner Bros and the movies) but this isn't possible right away except through pictures and clips posted all over the internet.

The gameplay is fairly standard for anybody who has played World of Warcraft, they borrowed a great deal of the mechanics from this industry giant. I was pleasantly surprised by the writing and the polish that seems evident throughout the game and I can only imagine that it gets even better throughout the rest of the game. There are a few technical issues that I have noticed that seem to make certain things difficult to accomplish such as finding one Quest giver out of a sea of NPCs (Non-player characters) and there doesn't appear to be an option to zoom IN on the little mini-map in the corner of the screen.

Another thing that gives me some pause is that the world doesn't seem as populated as I would have hoped with human players. However, I did see enough and from browsing the internet I have no cause for alarm as the game appears to be going quite strong and the latest expansion, "The Mines of Moria" sold quite well and even garnered a few awards with its content.

I have yet to meet anyone from the movies, with the exception of a brief appearance from Elrond, or interact with any scenes straight from the novels but I have been assured by many articles that it is only a matter of time. This brings me to what I think is the single greatest strength of this game: longevity in the market. So many people are knowledgeable about the books (thank you Peter Jackson!) and they know the plotline that Turbine's decision to have the game parallel the events is absolutely inspired. What is even more inspired is how they have chosen to do it.

When the game first came out about two years ago the epic storyline (which loosely follows the plot of the trilogy) ended around the same time period as the council of Elrond. Through a series of free updates (nice!!) and larger expansions to the game, the developers would seem to have a very long timeframe in mind. For instance, they just released "The Mines of Moria" which sees the Fellowship into Lothlorien where they meet Galadriel for the first time which is still within the first book of the trilogy and it has been out for two years!! At this pace, they won't get anywhere near the conclusion of the saga for at least a decade which is simultaneously scary and really fun to consider.

In the end, I really like this game and am looking forward to being able to feel a part of this preeminent fantasy epic. Anyone who likes WOW should at least try this and get away from the potty-mouthed children who always seem to play World of Warcraft. The people playing seem more mature and willing to help a noob like me.

1 comment:

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