It’s mine..all mine..my…precious!
Yes, thats what exclaimed when I picked up The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar (or LOTRO for short) from the store. I couldn’t believe there was now an MMORPG of Tolkien‘s fantastic fantasy world. We all know there have been attempts at other games based on Middle Earth, perhaps the most successful of these is The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle Earth series. But personally, the games were just lacking in the true feel of Middle Earth. Until now.
Upon loading the game you find yourself posed with the ominious choice of which race to choose to become, either Man, Hobbit, Elf or Dwarf. I chose Man, based on the idea that since they are the first choice they are reasonably well rounded. The best part of the character creation is how you name your character. You can choose a name that relates to where your character is from (e.g. Gondor, Rohan) with each different area having different sounding names. The detail you can put into your characters face and body is high too. With that out of the way it’s time to enter Middle Earth.
I appear in a cell of sorts, with a ranger trying to get my attention. He is planning an escape. He tells me to wait until the guard has come into the cell. He then jumps the guard and delivers a killing blow. its thirty seconds in and im already wide eyed and hooked. The wonder of Tolkien’s world is alive around me; it almost brings a tear to my eye.
But no time to stop and admire the handywork of the metalsmith who created this prison. The ranger tells me to search for a weapon; I promtly find a rusty greatsword to defend myself with. By now i’m quivering with excitement at the thought of a battle, however I soon realise that the ranger intends to split up. So I head off through another cell door to be confronted by a guard! Luckily, my newly aquired weapon makes quick work of him. There are another four guards en route, at the end of which I meet a hobbit woman being held captive. I lunge at her captor and make short work of him. She thanks me and says we need to find her hobbit friend.
We backtrack only to find the ranger from earlier battling…a black rider! he succomes to a wound to his chest, but the hobbit woman is already setting fire to the surrounding to ward away the rider. He flees out of a gate and we are left in a smouldering mass of fire in the centre of which this poor ranger is dying. The hobbit woman suggest we take him to the nearest town.
In the first five minutes I have found that this game is worth the money and more. After this short instance you are thrown into a larger community in which you can interact with other characters. After a few levels in this larger area you are sent into the actual full world of Middle Earth, in which everyone is playing at once. From then on you can travel anywhere you like in the realm of Eriador, including the Shire, Rivendell and Thorin’s Halls. One of my favourite moments is at rivendell, where the fellowship are scattered about the city. If you approach Frodo you gain a sense of dread coming from him (the one ring!) whereas the other characters give you the gift of hope when you are near them.
To anyone who is thinking of bying this game, i sincerely reccomend it. If you’re a fan of games like Guild Wars and World of Warcraft, you will love this game.