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Lord of the Rings Conquest demo impressions.

January 10, 2009

I do like free demos don’t you? A chance to take games you aren’t even going to buy for a spin just to find out how unbelievably uninterested you are in the final product and further cement your mind firmly in the ‘I’m not going to buy that, it is shit’ camp. At least that’s what I thought after wasting thirty minutes with the single player part of Dynasty Warriors of the Rings Conquest and I was all ready to categorise it as ‘complete dump’ when I went and tried the multiplayer and an hour and a half later, I’m not sure that was a justified opinion.

This game with a long name comes from Pandemic, the people behind the Star Wars Battlefront games and since the third game has been in the obviously incapable hands of Free Radical for a few years the chaps previously responsible for making epic multiplayer sci-fi battles have turned their hand to the fantastical with another mahoosive license in Lord of the Rings.

It plays the same as Battlefront, which consequentially played the same as Battlefield, which sees you controlling a specific type of grunt as you and the other grunts on your team push against control points, take them, and eventually deplete your opponent’s pool of reinforcements, or lose trying. The format has always been lacklustre when alone but incomparably epic with human opponents and comrades and Conquest is no different.

The Warrior is your basic melee class who you might think would suck in the face of all the arrows and magic that would get spammed his way but you are wrong thanks to a handy axe he carries on his back that, when thrown with precision, will knock targets to the ground letting you get up to them and start slicing them into tonight’s salad. The Mage is the best team player, sending short sharp bolts of magic in to help with damage, healing wounded allies, and holding up a damage reducing barrier are their key skills and mean you will be popular, and very deadly as a mage.

The archer is only player by pussies who don’t like to think about what they are doing, volleying powerful arrow barrages into the obviously braver than you warriors and using poison to slow down anything that looks slightly big or menacing, the pussy class. The last class is the rogue of the group who aside from dealing cheap insta-kill attacks to the camping archers makes the best anti monster class in the game with attacks that can take half a health bar off our next point of interest as the mechanical death dealers of the Star Wars universe are gone and in their place are Horses, Worgs, Ents, and Cave Trolls.

Horses and Worgs are just infantry transport but Ents and Cave Trolls are limited on a map and taking control of one means you are going to deal a lot of pain very quickly, sweeping attacks will leave countless players unconscious while the ability to heal yourself when safe means a proficient player can really deal some insane damage with one of Conquest’s vehicle substitutes.

The two levels available in the demo are the Shire and a random interior castle section so no  epic battles of Helms Deep or expansive field combat for demo players, but what’s on offer works to the gameplay’s strengths giving melee classes a lot of room to manoeuvre out of fire and get up and personal with ranged characters while the action is always intense even with only half the player count in a match and even a Balrog tearing up the field getting peppered with arrows couldn’t put a dent in the solid framerate or cause lag issues on my dire connection.

I’ve seen a lot of hate for the demo already and heard bad things about the final build of the game but all these complaints are being levelled at the single player and I hate to sound rather rude or offend anyone but there’s a reason that multiplayer is the first option on the menu and that’s because Lord of the Rings Conquest is a multiplayer class based game in which you get to play as a grunt in epic battles from the rich lore of Middle Earth with other like minded nerds, and from playing the demo I can tell that I would thoroughly enjoy playing the full game in multiplayer, and no dodgy Dynasty Warriors style single player could ruin that.

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