Have you ever played Star Wars: Battlefront? You have? Good, then you know exactly what to expect from Lord of the Rings: Conquest.
If you haven't, go to YouTube, watch a Battlefront video and when you see Obi-Wan Konobi, just picture Gandalf the Wizard instead. There you go; you know pretty much what to expect now.
Lord of the Rings: Conquest feels like a very well put together mod for Battlefront. This makes a lot of sense, considering it was made by the same team.
You play on either the side of good or evil, choose which class you want to be (Warrior, Scout, Archer or Mage – they are all exactly the same on both sides) and go forth with your fellow combatants to fight against the other side. Occasionally one player on each side will get to play as a hero character. The heroes all play as buffed versions of a certain class, sometimes with a few different animations.
The game consists of two single-player campaigns (which can be played in split-screen co-op). The first is the good side, which tells the movie-based story from Helm's Deep through to the end at the Black Gate. Once you complete this you get to play the evil side, which is a "what if" scenario where Frodo failed to destroy the ring, and was instead killed. You get to go through the same levels from the good side, but as the bad guys, and kill all the heroes (and hobbits).
It's definitely a treat that these two campaigns are included, and from a cinematic perspective they are put together very well. The game takes clips and music from the films and uses them to effectively re-tell the story. Plus you have Hugo Weaving (Elrond from the movies) doing narration with additional dialogue, which is always nice.
The downside to the single-player portion of the game is that firstly, the levels aren't very inspired. The design is fine, but you never really have to do anything particularly clever or interesting, so it all becomes extremely repetitive pretty quickly. Worse than that, it's frustrating as all hell! I don't mind a challenge in a game, but when you have to repeat an entire stage eight times because you keep dying and running out of lives at the last minute - that's just not fun any more. Especially when the reason for your death is getting knocked down by unavoidable attacks and then killed before you're able to stand back up.
Also, the difficulty is not consistent with the story or facts of the world. On this particular stage you constantly have two Ring Wraiths fighting you at all times. Whenever you manage to kill one, another is spawned near by and is soon on your heels. I may be wrong, but the movies gave me the impression that there were only about nine of these Ring Wraiths in the world right? So how the hell did I kill twelve of them and yet still had more coming to kill me… again?
As frustrating as that was, it's fair to remember that this game is primarily more about multiplayer than single-player. So how does it play online? Well that depends on your tastes really. There are three main modes, Deathmatch (which can either be regular, or straight up Hero Deathmatch), Conquest mode - where each time is trying to capture and hold certain points on the map for longer than the other team - and Capture the Ring, which is basically capture the flag, except the flag is a… well you get it right?
Unfortunately, Lord of the Rings: Conquest just isn't very inspiring. The four main classes are all well balanced and the best team will always have a healthy amount of each. They are all fairly fun to play and require different strategies. But at the same time, they all don't have a lot to do and you will find yourself doing the same things over and over again. Another sad thing is the graphics. This really just isn't a very good looking game. The textures are all pretty low quality, the models don't have too much detail and the animations, while good, never make everything feel alive.
If you just take a look at the recently leaked footage of Star Wars: Battlefront 3 you can see where the expectations should lie and that was a game in its Alpha stage. A large problem is that it just never feels like you're ever really connecting with the enemy players. Swords never sound like they are clashing. It all feels very artificial.
Lord of the Rings: Conquest isn't a bad game, it's just disappointing. It also doesn't offer anything for non-fans of the Battlefront series. That does however make the recommendation criteria easier; if you liked Star Wars: Battlefront and are a fan of Lord of the Rings, then you will probably enjoy this very much.
If the Battlefront games weren't your thing, then this probably won't be either.