Guest Wut U Talkin Bout? The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age

Wut U Talkin Bout is a quick look at overlooked titles in gaming history, or an overlooked intro in a franchise.

This Wut U Talkin Bout is written by forum member Masamune as a guest entry.

You’re probably thinking: “Silly Masa, doesn’t he know The Lord of the Rings is, like, SUPER popular?” And yup, I do know that. The movies are some of the highest grossing of all time, and the novel is the second most read book of the 20th Century, behind the Bible. And, as with any super popular franchise, The Lord of the Rings has spawned many video games. And that’s where The Third Age comes in.

The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age is a role-playing game developed by Electronic Arts in 2004 for the PlayStation 2, GameCube, and Xbox. A version was also released for the Game Boy Advance in the same year, but this Wut U is focused on the home console version.

 

The Third Age is typical RPG fare; the player controls one of the in game characters as they traverse the game world, in a more linear fashion than most games of the genre. You control the character from a third person perspective, with the ability to change the camera angle (A feature many RPGs lack), and every so often participating in turn-based battles, which are foreshadowed by a small orb in the corner of the screen which glows when battles are coming up. Oddly enough, the game’s battle system is strikingly familiar to the Conditional Turn-Based combat system found in Final Fantasy X, which, while not essentially a bad thing since FFX’s battle system was fantastic, does show a lack of originality in the title. One interesting thing in particular I noticed about the game is that there are no shops whatsoever; every item you acquire in the game is either found in the field or won from enemies in battle, which does help to give the game its own feel.

The Third Age is based on Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy, and when I say the movies, I mean just the movies; since EA didn’t have the license to develop games based on the books, they had to utilize elements featured solely in the movies. Though not that it matters much, since the story is extremely weak, and is more similar to a badly done fan-fiction, with many of the game’s original characters (Of which there are few) present during key moment in the Lord of the Rings story-line, such as Gandalf’s battle with the Balrog in Moria. However, Middle-Earth is well realized in The Third Age, and many of the environments are pleasant to look at and well adapted from the movies.

 

The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age isn’t a particularly long game, clocking in at about thirty hours, but since you can get it pretty cheap these days, you’ll get what you pay for. And it helps that’s the content is pretty darn solid, and it has several unique qualities that help the game stand apart from other RPGs. All in all, The Third Age is a game that only RPG and Lord of the Rings fans will get a real kick out of, but that doesn’t stop you guys from giving it a chance, and who knows, you might enjoy it.

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