Enthusiasm for The Lord of the Rings is sweeping the country all over again as the DVD hits store shelves. Fast forward to late December and it will be time to repeat the cycle, however as well as the sequel and the collectors edition of the DVD vying for your attention Electronic Arts will also be trying to sell PlayStation 2 owners a copy of their game based on the movie. The good news is that it actually looks like it could be pretty good.

As a rule most games based on movie licenses are total crap. It's unfortunate but it's true. Of course there are a few gems but for every good one we could show you ten duds. From what we've seen so far it looks like The Lord of the Rings:The Two Towers has certainly worked it's way out of the dud pile. It doesn't look like a classic at this stage but it's early days yet. We played a small portion of the game at E3 and more recently had a chance to check out early code at Electronic Arts New Zealand's offices.

The first thing that struck us when we saw the game running is how well it captures the feel of the movies. The colours are just right and the characters have been modelled with plenty of detail. Basing a game on the movie also means that the developers are freed from the tremendously weighty expectations that would exist if they were basing the game solely on the book. Instead of trying to cram the variety of different experiences from the book into a game EA have instead focused on key sequences and created an action game around them. Our description of what we have played so far would be 'a more cinematic version of Dynasty Warriors 3' and that's a good thing!

You control Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli, and (based on what we have seen so far) smack seven shades of hell out of the forces of Sauron and Saruman in a series of the movies locales. In some places you will be able to switch between characters, while in others you will have to stick with an assigned member of the fellowship. Each of the game's different missions is based heavily on scenes from the movies and they seem to have been reproduced exceptionally well. Interestingly some of the pre-alpha code we saw at EA's offices had a game sequence based on the battle sequence at the very beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring. We don't know whether this will make it to the final game or not.

[indent]Key Features

* Three playable characters: Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli.
* Third person action/adventure gameplay with an emphasis on tactical sword fighting.
* Hundreds of unique combat animations.
Battle five boss monsters from the first two movies, including the Cave Troll and Saruman.
* Sixteen levels consisting of memorable movie moments from the first two films.
* Face the evil forces of Sauron in over 10 environments from the movies, including the Mines of Moria and the walls of Helm's Deep.
* Musical score taken from Academy Award-winning The Fellowship of the Ring.


It's far too early to say whether The Two Towers will be a great game but it's certainly looking like it won't disappoint. At the very worst it looks like will be an exciting arcade action take on the movie and it promises to deliver so much more. We'll certainly be sniffing out a copy straight after we've seen the movie that's for sure.

*Editor's Note* The story about sitting behind the producers of the game and eavesdropping is true. We aren't going to risk being sued though ... you'll just have to take our word for it.