Lord of the Rings Online Review
Lord of the Rings Online
Developer: Turbine, Inc.
Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
The Lord of the Rings Online is a story driven, free to play fantasy MMORPG based in the realm of Middle Earth from J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel series. Even if you aren’t a fan of the story, LotRO has a lot to offer you. There are 4 races to choose from: Hobbit, Dwarf, Man, and Elf, and 9 classes with multipurpose roles. An immersive reputation system, housing system, a music system with a dedicated website to find songs to play, epic book quests from levels, role play enforced and encouraged servers, and player vs monster player are available to all players in this free to play game.
The combat is fairly simple: click on an enemy to target, though there are a good number of battles that require some strategy. All classes are able to participate in the end game mounted combat system which offers brand new skill sets to learn for both hero and war steed.
The downside to combat is that the game developers enjoy changing up what the skills do yearly (or sometimes halfway through the year) during updates, so it could possibly make it harder to ‘master’ a class or to keep enjoying it if your favorite aspect is taken away.
Once you start the game you are lead to a tutorial and introduction area. As you work your way down the path to learning the game your starting area will vary depending on the race that’s you chose. The Elves and Dwarves introduction is around the Thorin’s Hall area and the Hobbits and Man will start in Archet, a small town near the main city of Bree. The tutorials and introductions do a fantastic job introducing you to the lore of the world and the controls.
In the Man and Hobbit introduction, you are aiding Strider and his injured friend Amdir in Archet. Amdir has been cut with a Morgul blade and is in need of medicine. You are instructed to ask Captain Brackenbrook if there are Kingsfoil plants nearby and to ask him if the town needs any aid. He dislikes the rangers but needs the extra help so he sends you to his top man Calder Cob to remedy a wolf problem.
After gathering the leaves while climbing atop the ruins to discover where the wolf issue is coming from, you are ambushed by a Blackwold Wolf Master. Once you defeat him you return to Cob whom is astonished that you defeated the adversary. You had been set up, but Calder Cob is not worried about being discovered for his true intentions because Captain Brackenbrook would never think he would turn on the town. As Cob had foretold, it is hard to convince Captain Brackenbrook that Cob is a bad man who is planning to burn down Archet because of the loyalty Cob has shown throughout his whole life protecting the town. Strider asks you to go talk to John Brackenbrook, the banished son of the Captain, to get aid for the town if no one else will believe the town is in any danger.
Eventually you have to aid John Brackenbrook in an instance to fight off the Blackwolds from the now burning and ruined town of Archet. At the end the Cargul arrive with Calder Cob. The Cargul take Amdir as their servant to Mordor and Cob kills Captain Brackenbrook. You then must defeat Calder Cob to finish the introduction.
The Dwarves and Elves are near Edhelion searching for clues to riddles in Lord Elrond’s dreams. The clues eventually lead you to discover that Gormr Doursmith, the dwarf left in charge when ruler Thorin Oakenshield left with Bilbo Baggins to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from Smaug the dragon, has been trying to resurrect his old Dourhand Dwarf King Skorgrím. Skorgrím had destroyed Edhelion many years ago looking for relics to make him immortal, but died instead. Now, forces of evil have gotten together to raise him from the dead and it is your job to try to stop it.
Throughout the intro, you aid the Longbeards in trying to save their dying people while uncovering Gormr’s plans. The Longbeards have been poisoned by a polluted river, overcome with vile dogs called Barghests which are usually only found where the dead linger, and they are trying to reclaim their land as their own from the oppression of the Dourhands.
At the end of this introduction, you are entering Skorgrím’s tomb to try to stop Gormr from resurrecting him. You are too late. Ivar the Bloodhand resurrects Skorgrím but instead of staying to lead his people, he abandons Gormr and all of the Dourhands in the tomb to search for immortality and power elsewhere. You must defeat Gormr and the Dourhands all while escaping a collapsing tomb. Once you reach the end, you are finished with the introduction.
There is plenty to do in game such as festivals 6 times a year, role play, fishing hobby, meta-deed steeds to earn, lots of titles to earn, free turbine points for every ‘deed’ finished to help accumulate purchasing power for the gamers who do not want to (or cannot) spend money on the game, the list goes on and on.
The player vs monster player not only sucks now, but it will suck in the future as well. The skills for both Creeps (Wargs, Orcs, etc.) and Freeps (heros of Middle Earth) are constantly changed, commendations (points to earn skills) are much lower with every person you invite to your group and I’d say 90% of the time in my experience you’d be dead soloing so earning points takes forever, and the player community in that area sucks and I personally thank any God that exists that those crybabies mostly stay there in the Ettenmoors for PVMP.
Oh, and there is this statement from Turbine ticks me off because it’s a blatant money grab for Creep skills: “Place a cap on Commendations as part of a move to create a “PvMP Seasons” mechanic that encourages/requires player investment with each content update”.
The music track is to die for; I could listen to this sound track instead of regular bands and not know that I’m listening to game music.
The in game sounds (combat sounds, I’m looking at you here) are nowhere near what other games have. The voice overs are decent, when the NPCs decide to actually say something to you. They only say one or two sentences so you’ll be doing a lot of reading, more reading than English lit class in high school…
The in game voice chat chooses when it will work. From my experience most raiding groups use Ventrilo servers for their voice chat during raids.
Lord of the Rings Online is a casual gamer’s dream, but a hardcore raider’s nightmare. I’m sad to say that server disconnects and lag ruins any game and Lord of the Rings Online can be too full of both of those sometimes.
It is worth the download (if you can wait over 7 hours for it) to try out because it is free to play and if you like the books you will absolutely adore this whole game. But unfortunately I’m doing this review from a ‘gamer’ standpoint and not a book worm or LotR nerd’s point of view (which I am all 3 thank you) and therefore this game is not recommended.
Verdict 3 out of 6
(6 out of 6 from the nerd in me who loves helping Frodo…)