Tag Archives: The Lord of the Rings

The Hobbit (Xbox, PC, PlayStation 2, GameCube & Game Boy Advance)

Developer(s) – Inevitable Entertainment, The Fizz Factor & Saffire

Publisher(s) – Sierra Entertainment

Designer – Chuck Lupher

Producer(s) – Jaime Grieves

Amidst the newfound popularity of the Tolkien mythos surround the Lord of the Rings film trilogy directed by Peter Jackson, and amidst an ongoing dispute regarding the rights to the Tolkien license, with multiple games based on the books and films being developed at the time, The Hobbit was released to mixed reviews from critics, who cited the gameplay as being uninspiring, and it’s failure to appeal to younger gamers. In the industry, licensed games have for the most part been generally frowned upon, and seen as simply being a modern form of shovelware, with the owners of their respective licenses simply releasing games to coincide with films for the moat part. However, there are a elect few license games, which go above and beyond what is expected of them, and end up offering some legitimately enjoyable gaming experiences. In my opinion, whilst The Hobbit may not be among the best, it’s certainly not among the worst, I find.

Graphics – 6.5/10

On aspect that the game falls short on somewhat, is the visuals. Whilst they may have looked fairly impressive at the time, they don’t hold up nearly as well on a technical level as many other games of it’s kind do, such as Final Fantasy X and Metal Gear Solid 2 to name but a few. Like the game based on the first volume of The Lord of the Rings trilogy developed by WPX Games & Surreal Software, it largely conforms to the same conceptual design as in the films, but there are a couple of standout elements that did fairly well to separate it from both the initial Peter Jackson film trilogy and the aforementioned game at the time of it’s release at least (before the Hobbit film trilogy came out years later as well as Lego The Hobbit), such as locations like Lake Town, Mirkwood and Erebor.

Gameplay – 7/10

For the most playing out like a traditional 3D platformer, the game also has a few little side quests thrown in for good measure during the first half of it; like the previously mentioned Lord of the Rings game. Most notably involving completing the tasks for the dwarves before the party departs for The Lonely Mountain. There is also a small stealth aspect, which fits in fairly well with the tableau of the story of Bilbo Baggins being hired as a thief, and which I moderately enjoyed. Stealth can be quite a tricky aspect to pull off in games, as it can eliminate fluency if it requires players to play through the same area a certain amount of times, but for the most part, it’s done fairly well in this title in my opinion.

Controls – 10/10

As far as 3D platforming in this game goes, I had no gripes with it whatsoever; which in all fairness was to be expected I think, as the genre had well and truly took prominence at this time following the release of games such as Super Mario 64 and Jak & Daxter. Combat and stealth are also both handled adequately well, and there are no unnecessary complications with the game’s control scheme present to add any kind of unwarranted level of frustration.

Lifespan – 6/10

The game can be made to last an average of 8 hours even taking in the completion of side quests throughout the course of the game, which whilst isn’t great by any means, is still fractionally longer than the game based on The Lord of the Rings license, which can be made to last around 6 to 7 hours. As the game conforms to a very linear progression, it wasn’t expected to have a great lifespan in any case, but I cant help but think that with a little bit more imagination on the developer’s part, it could have been made to last at least a little while longer; certainly the first part of the game set in the Shire.

Storyline – 8/10

Depicting the events of the classic children’s novel written by JRR Tolkien, The Hobbit follows the exploits of Bilbo Baggins of the Shire, who is persuaded by the wizard Gandalf and his band of 13 dwarves to accompany them on an adventure to retake the dwarven city of Erebor from the dragon Smaug. The story itself isn’t an issue at all, since It’s enjoyable in any form that it’s told; be that through a game, a film, or most notably of course, the classic book. The biggest problem I had with it, however, is the voice acting is quite lacklustre, even by video game standards at that time, and thus, it’s much more difficult to take seriously than in other forms of media the story has, or would be told in.

Originality – 6/10

The game does retain a slight element of uniqueness, as it incorporates the aforementioned stealth element, which at this point was only really seen in the Sly Cooper games. However, for the most part, it plays out like most other 3D platformers that were released before its time, and consequentially, I don’t think it can be considered either evolutionary or revolutionary. The stealth mechanics in the Sly Cooper games were much more sophisticated than in this title, and in terms of normal 3D platforming mechanics, it fails to stand out amidst many of the classics in the genre that had been released prior.

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Happii

In summation, despite it’s lack of originality and less than satisfactory voice acting, The Hobbit is nevertheless a fairly enjoyable gaming experience, and shouldn’t be entirely overlooked. Whilst the visuals may not hold up to this day on a technical level, and whilst more could have been added to increase the game’s longevity, the developers did a good job for the most part, and it’s certainly worth at least one playthrough; for both fans of the Tolkien mythos and the 3D platforming genre.

Score

43.5/60

7/10 (Fair)

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (PlayStation 2, Xbox, PC & Gameboy Advance)

Developer(s) – WXP Games & Surreal Software

Publisher(s) – Black Label Game, Universal Interactive & Sierra Entertainment

Designer – Todd Clineschmidt

Producer – Nick Radovich

Released around the same time as the Peter Jackson film trilogy, and when the franchise was the subject of a great many licensed games, WXP Games’ Lord of the Rings interpretation was a 3D platforming adventure title, with an emphasis on side quests, and to a degree exploration. Surpassing my expectations, this is in fact a fairly enjoyable title, and it’s a pity that the planned sequels were cancelled, since I believe there were many ways in which the developers could possibly expanded upon what they had created with this game.

Graphics – 7/10

Though the majority of the conceptual design of this game is based on the film trilogy, there are certain elements that make it stand out from it, such as the re-imagining of locations such as Barad-Dur and the Mines of Moria. The location that fails to stand out the most is the Shire, since it is more or less identical to that of the films. But there are also other locations included, such as the forest in which Tom Bombadil dwells, as unlike the films, he also makes an appearance.

Gameplay – 7/10

As I pointed out, the game revolves around adventure; elements of exploration, combat and the occasional puzzle solving. Players control Frodo, Gandalf and Aragorn, and each character has their own set of abilities and purposes throughout the game, giving it a fair amount of variety. For example, there are many side quests to be completed throughout the first part of the game whilst playing as Frodo, whereas Aragorn and Gandalf’s roles are much more combat-oriented. The gripe I have with it is that the side quests virtually stop after the first part of the game, and I think the developers could easily have added a few more beyond that.

Controls – 10/10

Not only are there no problems with the game’s control scheme, but with the facility to control three different characters, the game is also kept interesting with players having to adapt to multiple styles of play, which are all easy enough to get to grips with, and fast.

Lifespan – 6/10

For a game based on such a long book as even the first chapter of the trilogy, the game lasts a fair amount of time, at around 6 to 7 hours. But as I alluded to before, I cant help but think that if the developers had added a few more side quests to both Aragorn and Gandalf’s sequences in the game, then it could easily have been made to last much longer.

Storyline – 9/10

Having read the books and watched the films, I was captivated by the story of the Lord of the Rings long before I started playing this game. For those who may not know the basic plot, Frodo Baggins is a hobbit living in the Shire, when he inherits a magic ring from his uncle Bilbo. His friend Gandalf arrives to inform that the ring is in fact that of the dark lord Sauron, who attempted to rule Middle-Earth with the power of the ring thousands of years prior to the start of the story. Frodo resolves to destroy it by journeying to Mt Doom, the only place where it can be destroyed, along with a company of friends and warriors from across the land. The manner in which it is portrayed in the game is very much akin to that of the book, but the only downside to it is the character of Frodo. Unlike Elijah Wood or even Christopher Guard’s portrayal of him, he seems far too jolly for the most part to me, and doesn’t seem to fully realize the gravity of the situation.

Originality – 6/10

At this time, gamers were rightfully in the mindset that licensed games were generally of much lesser quality than unlicensed games were. For the most part, this was true, and it wasn’t until Batman: Arkham Asylum in 2009 that this trend was broken, but this game wasn’t too bad compared to most others in my opinion. Even though it follows many different trends that had already been established by other developers beforehand, every element of gameplay comes together well, and plays out adequately, despite the fact that there was indeed room for improvement.

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Happii

In summation, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was a fairly commendable attempt to bring the license to the gaming industry, and excelled above many other licensed games at that time. I think the sequels would most probably have been better if they ever saw the light of day, but this would have been an sufficient starting point.

Score

45/60

7.5/10 (Good)