Lord of the Rings: Conquest was made by Pandemic, creators of the Star Wars: Battlefront, Mercenaries and Destroy All Humans! series. When I heard they building a Battlefront-esque “Lord of the Rings” game, I marked my calendar and reserved $60 like every good nerd should. But my nerdy anticipation was met with a one-armed hug.
The first thing I noticed in Conquest was the lack of enemies to fight. Only 16 units, A.I. or player-controlled, are allowed in one battle. This changed the game from epic to slightly disappointing. Instead of feeling like one of thousands of soldiers, I felt like one of sixteen officers in an arena. Battlefront II had 24, 32 or 64 units on the battlefield at one time. Though this is the first Conquest game, would it have been a stretch to include 8 more units?
Having 8 units per team isn’t exhilarating by itself, but the class selection renders it tolerable. Conquest allows you to choose between four classes: warriors, archers, scouts and mages. Unlike the Battlefront games, you have a reason to play all four.
Battlefront I and II have a superior class: standard infantry. They easily excel in tearing other infantry apart and a well thrown grenade compensates for not employing a demolitionist. Conquest‘s 4 classes have the same chance to kill each other when played to their full potential. Each also has abilities that are preferred in certain circumstances, but are equally valued. Furthermore, all archetypes mesh well. For example, archers can stand inside a mage’s defensive bubble and snipe without worry, and a rogue’s bomb can save anybody from a beat down.
While Conquest has a more balanced selection of classes than Battlefront II, the A.I. has multi-personality disorder. One moment an Uruk-hai swordsman admires the collation of books upon a shelf in Rivendell, the next he trounces your face with a six-foot claymore. A.I. freezes are thankfully rare, though they stir a refreshing humor– unless you set the game on legendary difficulty. Then the A.I. is less funny and more dedicated to violence.
Though armies aren’t vast like the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, Conquest includes epic music heard throughout the films. After felling groups of hobbits in the Shire, Howard Shore’s Isengard Unleashed, pounding in fury, really completes the scene. It helps compensate for the grandeur lost with low amounts of soldiers.
Graphics are average. They never charm you into thinking Conquest is real. Don’t worry though, watching people burn in a field of fire is still satisfying.
I rate this game with an 8/10. The actual gameplay is smooth, playing with friends is fun, the music is epic, but you never see massive battles.