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November 12, 2002
Lord Of The Rings: Two Towers - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
1/11/2002EA GamesEA Games1M15+Medium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
250KBDolby SurroundYesNoNoneNo

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The forest detail is wonderful.
It is testament to Peter Jackson, director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy that the first movie sits at number 6 on the list of greatest movies of all time as voted for by the public on Internet Movie Database. With such acclaim and praise it isn't surprising that this game, based on the first two movies, is among the most anticipated with gamers. Unlike Vivendi's upcoming Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring which is actually and RPG based on the books rather then the movies, this game is an action game very much in the vein of Sega's legendary Golden Axe.

EA's first Lord of the Rings game will allow players to take control of the motion picture trilogy's action heroes: Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli, with other members of the Fellowship taking an active role during gameplay, as well as being unlockable by completing the game. In The Two Towers, players battle a variety of Orcs and square off against vicious boss monsters including the Cave Troll from the first movie, and Saruman.

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Orcs attacking in the river.
The first thing that strikes you about this game is the use of actual movie footage for the intro. Don't skip it though as part way through the film footage switches seamlessly to rendered graphics drawing you into the gameworls, and then the battle is on. Although the first level forces you to play as Aragorn the majority of the game allows you to select from Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli. As you would expect each has his own strengths. Gimli for example is rather slow, but uses an axe to devastating effect. Legolas on the other hand is very fast and uses twin swords to attack the enemies. Each of the characters also has a secondary weapon such as bow and arrow, or in Gimli's case a throwing axe.

One of the great things about this game is the way in which you can expand the characters abilities by "purchasing" new moves or upgrades with the experience points earned throughout the levels. This adds an element of strategy to the game. Do you increase a player's health, or purchase 3 new special moves ahead. All of the levels are modelled on the first two movies in the trilogy to create more authenticity. It has to be said that Electronic Arts have done a wonderful job of creating the atmosphere of the movie(s). The battles are large and with many levels including strict time completions you will have to get a move on. The game includes some wonderful boss encounters as well. Each of them requires a little strategy which may take some working out, but once figured they become fairly easy.

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Character detail is impressive.
Special mention must also be made of the special features in the game which are unlocked by completing missions or reaching certain character levels. These bonuses include interviews with the cast from the movies including Elijah Wood who is enthused about the game to Ian McKellen and Viggo Morentsen who obviously aren't big gamers, but are welcome nonetheless. Other extras include unlockable characters and concept art and photographs from the set of the movie. These are some very cool bonuses that will have you coming back to the game to see what can be unlocked next.

There is very little to dislike with this game. Although The Two Towers doesn't push any new boundaries and can become repetitive after a while this game will have fans of the movie hooked, if only to see what's coming up in the next movie. But that can also be a problem. People who haven't read the book may learn a little too much of what's in store for the next movie. Still, you can always play the first part of the game until the movie comes out in 6 weeks time. Also slightly disappointing is the length of the game. There are 16 missions in total an while you'll be playing several of them many times until you learn boss patterns there is probably little over 10 hours of game time for experienced gamers. Finally the camera could have done with a little more work, especially when using the long range weapon. At times you can't see when aiming, especially when against walls or behind pillars.

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Check out the detail on the troll.
Graphics are one are where The Two Towers does shine. I absolutely love the way the cut scenes change between film and in-game graphics and vice versa which brings the game and movies seemingly closer. Also impressive is the background detail in the levels, which are spectacular. Strangely the detail on the main characters, and in particular Gimli, is disappointing. For some reason the texturing on his face, and especially the beard, seems very PSOne-ish. To make this even more confusing the enemies are wonderfully detailed. The cave troll looks, and is animated, better then that in the actual Harry Potter movie. What does make this game stand out is the rock solid frame rate. With around 15 characters on screen the game retains the 30fps without a hiccup.

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Gandalf in the background.
With the official license from the movies Electronic Arts also have the rights to use the terrific musical score from Howard Shore. If you haven't heard this movie (or game) in a theatre or on DVD you are doing yourself a disservice, it's wonderful. Not only have the developers used the music from the movie, but also had the actors provide the real voices for scripted lines in the game. To top it all off the sound effects are also terrific with swords clashing together, enemies crying out in pain and innocent civilians crying out in terror. The only way this game could sound better would be the inclusion of DTS sound which seems to be lacking from many of the newer PS2 Electronic Arts titles despite promises almost 2 years ago to include it in more games.

Anyone looking for a solid slash 'em up need look no further then Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Electronic Arts have put a lot of effort into this title and it shows. Fans of the movie should love this title, as long as you don't mind some repetitive gameplay. This is a fantastic title that is over a little too quickly, although unlocking all the bonuses will take some time. I can't wait to see what's next for the license.

GRAPHICSGimli is the only dull spot in an otherwise fantastic looking game.
SOUNDReal music, real voices and terrific effects are put together well.
GAMEPLAYThink updated Golden Axe and you'll know exactly what to expect.
VALUEOnly 16 missions but great unlockable bonuses will have you back.
OVERALLLord of the Rings: The Two Towers is a great license used well by Electronic Arts. Thank goodness they didn't rush the product to meet last years movie as this game has turned out superbly. The extras make this game all the more interesting, as does the footage form the upcoming movie, as long as you don't mind some spoilers.

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