Title The Lord of the Rings Game Type Adventure Publisher Electronic Arts (1991) Players 1 Compatibility OCS/AGA HD Installable Yes Submission Catherine Macdonald Profiled Reviewer Review The theme of this game will be known to those familiar with the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. However, for the two of you out there who aren't, it takes place in the mythical world of Middle Earth, inhabited by diverse beings such as little Hobbits, middle-sized Dwarves, (mostly) tall Humans and the demi-Human Wizards, very tall Elves, variable-sized Goblins, Orcs and the like. The major quest centres on an extremely powerful magical ring, part of a set forged by ancient Elven smiths, for rather complex reasons. This One Ring must be destroyed in Mount Doom, in Mordor, before the Dark Lord Sauron gets his claws (probably literally) on it. This is the ultimate object of, well, Part III of the game. As this is only Part I, I'm not going to deprive you of the joys of discovery by telling you the object of this part. You start off with a Hobbit in The Shire, where there are plenty of tasks to make you explore and deal with initial sub-plots. This is to let you get the hang of how the game works. Be warned - this is the easiest bit and it just gets harder. You control movement of a party of good guys - The Fellowship of The Ring. These start out as 1 or 2, but can number up to 10 at one time as you recruit, lose or dismiss characters. There are many characters whom you cannot recruit (npc's) and many whom you'd rather not try. So, adding to your party is not always that easy. Take good care of the ones you have. The view is overhead as per e.g. "Ultima". Movement is controlled by mouse or cursor keys (I prefer the latter). Actions, use of skills etc. is icon-controlled with mouse or key. Areas of travel/exploration are roads/paths, grasslands, woods/forests, bridges, underground, undermountain and within buildings. If one member has the skills, you can jump or climb many less accessible areas. You are usually given some hint that this is an option, for example at ladders - or the edge of pits! Useful items are often rather difficult to obtain, and tend to be integral to the many sub-plots. As is usual with adventure games, you need to be patient with conversations, when you feel you're banging your head against a stone wall meeting too many folk who seem to have nothing worthwhile to say - take care not to miss those who do! By far the hardest thing to get is money, but once out of Bree and surrounding villages, you don't need it. (There is the chance to effectively mug a pair of Robbers just outside of Bree, if you're hard enough - and haven't been eaten by Wolves. Didn't I mention Wolves? Wargs are worse. And there are far worse things than Wargs.) As far as making-friends-and-meeting-people is concerned, you'll find Hobbits mostly friendly but of limited use (out with the 4 diminutive heroes of the quest - read "Lord Of The Rings" the Book) Dwarves of variable mood but mostly useful, very few Men (Humans) of use but the important ones stick with you, a number of Elves who are very useful and all Elves, apart from 1 or 2 grumpies in Lothlorien, are very, very nice. As for the bad guys (Wolves, Wargs, Robbers, Barrow-wights, Goblins, various Orcs, Trolls, Spiders (Giant variety) Sorcerers, Nazgul (Black Riders or Ring Wraiths)) well, apart from a couple of Snaga (small Orcs) just kill, kill, kill if you can. If you can't, then try to run away, though this can sometimes be tricky. Oh, yes, we mustn't forget poor Smeagol (aka Gollum) must we? (no, preciousss, we mussstn't - read the Book). If you can catch him (you don't have a rope? tsk, tsk) he is very useful for a one-off to get you out of a fix. Then he nips off without a trace. So, how was it to play? The difficulty level becomes pitched moderate-to-high quite quickly. Combat can be a bit hit-and-miss (well, OK, it would be wouldn't it?) - I mean you can miss close-up but hit from 2 paces: unpredictable at times. There is also quite a lot of wandering around in some parts. The graphics for the characters work fine, you can easily distinguish between types and the animation is smooth. Background graphics, however, could use more variety - for example all woodlands tend to look the same and can become monotonous to navigate. (Given that Electronic Arts were the makers of "DeluxePaint", a bit more effort in the graphics department is not unreasonable.) There were few places to go without event or encounter, though some did seem to be a pointless waste of effort. This can be irritating, especially when the game is already in a difficult phase. Oh, that reminds me of a major gripe I have - there are only 2 save slots. Given the complexity of this game, I feel this is unreasonable, when you've reached somewhere like Moria, for example, which is full of perils and is tricky to navigate. Also, if you inadvertently press the wrong key to the request for old/new game, on each start, you lose both saved games! Advice: have a few aptly-named directories on your HDD to store a few past (and latest!) games. Also, be careful when you save. You may find yourself at a point of no return (without restarting the game from scratch - aaaaarrrrggghhh!!!!) if you've missed something that you had to get in the previous area. For example, you're in Dol Guldor and it's in Moria or Lothlorien. The manual warns that apparent disaster is not necessarily a bad thing. Don't get too cosy with that - there are enough disasters you can hit which do mean "Game Over, Man!" Overall? A pretty tricky, but very absorbing game. At least it avoided being too linear: You could complete the quest without having to do things/meet people/go places in a strict order - well, mostly. If you can stick with it, it's a cracker. Just a pity Part I closed with Electronic Arts' departure from the Amiga.