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Lord of the Rings Online Review

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the you-got-your-hobbit-in-my-mmog dept.

Role Playing (Games) 351

The circle is now complete. With Turbine's release of Lord of the Rings Online: The Shadows of Angmar (LOTRO), the Massively Mutliplayer game figuratively eats the tail of its originator in ouroboros-like fashion. Tolkien's work begat Dungeons and Dragons, the PC gaming market, CRPGs, and finally Massive games, and last month's release of LOTRO beautifully reconnects the future with the past. Replacing dice-wielding friends around a table has even, wonder of wonders, been done well. Polished gameplay and cutting-edge graphics abound; In direct contrast to the lackluster response to Turbine's other MMOG, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Lord of the Rings Online has had an overwhelmingly positive reaction from fans. Read on for my notes from the experience of trying on Hobbit feet for a month, and a few words about why LOTRO's quality is notable and highly encouraging.

  • Title: Lord of the Rings Online: The Shadows of Angmar
  • Publisher: Midway
  • Developer: Turbine Inc.
  • System: PC
  • Genre: Massively Multiplayer Online Game
  • Score: 4/5 - This game is above average, and excels in the genre it supports. A classic for the genre, likely to be a part of a genre fan's collection, and well worth a look for every gamer.
It may seem derogatory to open a review by comparison to another game, but in this case the comparison is a positive one; it's worth saying up front: Lord of the Rings Online stacks up very well compared to the king of the genre, World of Warcraft (WoW). When WoW dropped on an unsuspecting PC market a little over two years ago, it changed the Massively Multiplayer industry forever. As a result, WoW has been an incredibly hard act to follow.

It's telling, and more than a little disconcerting, to note that every Massively Multiplayer game launched since WoW has had a very hard time garnering attention from traditional Massive gamers. Some expansions have worked out well, of course, and Guild Wars has succeeded by dodging the barrier of a monthly fee completely. New AAA MMOGs, though, have been grimly received. Some of the biggest games launched since WoW include: The Matrix Online, ArchLord, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Auto Assault, and Vanguard. Though each of these titles offers some interesting gameplay elements, none of them have managed to capture even a noticeable percentage of the WoW-playing audience.

The simple fact, then, that Lord of the Rings Online is a polished, competently executed, and genuinely fun Massively Multiplayer experience is not to be taken lightly. Adequacy should not be confused with disappointment. LOTRO is, literally, the first brand-new MMOG worth playing since World of Warcraft. As depressing as that is to contemplate, LOTRO's success is great news for fans of the books and movies; no one is turning in their grave as a result of this game's launch.

In the broadest sense, LOTRO compares favorably to World of Warcraft because it borrowed many components from the current king of the genre. LOTRO has adapted the general 'feel' of WoW's gameplay to a wholly new setting and experience. The result is a MMOG that will be extremely intuitive to anyone who has played other Massive games. Characters are chosen from a selection of classes and races, spend most of their time completing quests, fight opponents by selecting class abilities from a hotbar, and can band together with other players to take on challenges too dangerous to solo. The game can primarily be played by yourself, but common chat channels called Fellowships ensure that players looking for more long-term social commitments can achieve their goals. It's a sign of the times that WoW's success almost seems to demand some level of imitation from other products to be competitive. It should be stressed, though, that LOTRO is not just a poor man's WoW. This is no cheap knock-off, and the game is categorically not trying to be World of Warcraft. It would be more accurate to say that Turbine has recognized quality, and attempted to ensure that their own product lives up to expectations.

What separates LOTRO from the crowd, the thing that Turbine has sharpened and honed to cut players (at least temporarily) away from other games, is the Middle Earth license. The extraordinary care that the designers have taken to place players into Middle Earth is apparent in every aspect of the game. As in other titles set during the Rings trilogy, Turbine has wisely kept you fairly well removed from the main plot of the books. By following quests scattered throughout the world, your character dances around and through the journey of the One Ring. Though you can speak with every member of the Fellowship at some point in your travels, you are not asked to shoulder Frodo's burden. Instead, your character is woven deeply efforts of the free peoples to aid the ring-bearer and repel the forces of Mordor. The usual kill-it and fed-ex quests dot the land, and wouldn't look out of place in any other game. The sharp difference is that Turbine has leveraged Tolkien's amazing world-building efforts to make you actually care about what you're doing. Ranging from the practical (slaying goblins to keep the townspeople safe) to the ridiculous (running pies across the shire to spoil the Sackville-Baggins' party), quest text is remarkably well written. If you read and enjoyed the books, you're going to quickly find yourself pausing to read the tales these quests tell.

This pause, the interest in the lives of the NPCs, results in a different pace than you might be used to in other Massive games. It's, of course, an intrinsic part of the gameplay that you can set your own pace in a Massively Multiplayer game. That said many games compel you to rush everywhere, getting as much done as quickly as possible, playing for long stretches at a time to grind to the higher levels. LOTRO just doesn't have that vibe. Certainly, you can churn through the content as fast or slow as you'd like. There were max-level characters on the game servers within a week or two of the game's launch. For those with more appetite for story, or those grown tired of that pace in other online games, the breathtaking graphics and well-told tales encourage stopping to smell the roses. There's also just no compelling reason to grind your way to max-level in this game. Right now a big chunk of highest-level content is still in development, and for a Massively Multiplayer game LOTRO is quite reasonably priced. Anecdotal evidence from my own experiences and the experiences of other players indicates that Lord of the Rings Online is the kind of game that is most fun to play in fits and spurts. A few hours one day, a few hours the next ... it's so much fun running around the Shire, it's easy to see why a player would be in no rush to leave the lower levels.

Another element that encourages lingering rather that rushing, and can help assuage the hardcore players that might otherwise grumble, are the deeds. Deeds are a unique element to Lord of the Rings Online, a kind of achievement system somewhat reminiscent of those earned on the Xbox 360. They're discovered by doing the act the deed requires for the first time; for example, many require a certain number of monsters to be slain. The first time you kill a wolf in the Shire, your UI notes that you've begun work on the 'Wolf Slayer' deed. This can just be a blind grind-fest, if you're so inclined, but players have found that most deeds can be accomplished simply by going about their normal business of questing and traveling. Killing wolves as you encounter them in your travels eventually results in the completion of that deed, without needing to ruin your play experience with senseless repetition. Instead of Xbox Live gamerpoints, deeds earn your character two things: titles and virtues. Titles are simply that, strings that can be added on to your name. Completing the Wolf Slayer deed, for example, nets you the 'Fur Cutter' title. It's a simple customization, but the large number of deeds in the game allows for players to represent themselves in a myriad of different ways.

Virtues are much more important. Each completed deed gives you access to a virtue, an insubstantial descriptor that modifies your character's game statistics. As an example, completion of the Wolf Slayer deed earns the 'Discipline' virtue. Discipline increases melee damage and your character's resistance to injury. Each virtue modifies different character abilities and statistics, and are useful in different situations. A character's functionality can be changed dramatically just by swapping out what virtues they have slotted. It encourages differentiation between members of the same class, and a few wisely-chosen virtues can make the difference between victory and defeat.

Deeds aren't the only unique element LOTRO offers. The game's character classes are a nice tweak on the normal 'tank/mage/cleric' trinity that have been the standard in fantasy MMOs since EverQuest. While the basic party roles are all there, their Middle Earth wrapping pleasantly muddies the waters. The main Damage Per Second (DPS) class in the game, for example, is the Burglar, a rogue-type character. The character you'd expect to be most like the blaster/mage is the Loremaster, but he fulfills more of a crowd control role. He also has some healing skills, as do several other classes. The Minstrel is the primary healing class, but with multiple classes having the ability to heal it's not critical to ensure a Minstrel is in every party. This 'spreading the load' approach also allows Minstrels themselves to be a more front-line combatant than any priest or healer is in other games Their songs do damage to enemies, as well as providing short-term buffs for team-mates. Though for the most part these are all familiar roles in new packages, they 'feel' differently enough to provide a sense of novelty for veterans and new players alike.

Crafting within the game is well done, but simply doesn't feel as though it was made huge priority. You're forced to choose from one of three crafting classes, separate from your combat class. Each class has three vocations it covers, allowing for slightly more variety than in other games. While most of these crafts are par for the course, there are a few vocations that tweak things a bit. Farming, for example, is an actual crafting element in the game. You plant seeds, harvest crops, and sell them to other players; in Beta it was the best way to make money, and resulted in more than a few obvious jokes. There is also a Scholar vocation that has players collecting pieces of ancient wisdom together to make scrolls and potions. For the most part, though, crafting in Lord of the Rings Online is 'merely' competently executed. New players aren't introduced to the fundamentals of crafting explicitly enough before they're forced to make a choice, and after a choice is made quest support for crafting-friendly players can be a bit slack at low levels.

Merely 'okay' crafting, aside, the game world really does have an overall very high level of quality. Just the same, Lord of the Rings Online is not perfect. At launch, there are a number of complaints that users have grappled with. The single most disappointing game element has to be the game's UI. Though it is functional, that's about the only thing that can be said in its favour. LOTRO's UI features dull, uninformative icons and a general lack of polish. It may seem like a minor quibble but set against the general high level of quality throughout the rest of the game, and compared (as always) to WoW, it's quite a glaring oversight.

Early in the launch window as we are, there have been numerous complaints by players about the balance of the game's economy. While items seem well powered for their levels, and obtaining gear is a fairly well-tuned process, the costs associated with purchasing new abilities is astronomical. It's not out of the ordinary for a single new ability (obtainable from a trainer at a newly-achieved level) to cost half or more of the coin you have on-hand. Mileage will vary from player to player, of course, as some people place a higher emphasis on crafting and selling than others. The general consensus, just the same, seems to be that ability costs could use a revisit.

Given the respect for the setting it's another minor quibble, but the lack of any sort of tie-in to the Peter Jackson helmed movies is, in my mind, a lapse. Obviously, the license for that content is separate from the license that Turbine is working off of, and as such there's no reason to expect Elijah Woods or Hugo Weaving to make an appearance in the gameworld. Just the same, it's hard to listen to the kinda-generic fantasy music that greets you at login and not yearn for Howard Shore's stirring theme. Perhaps this might be a possibility in the future; that's one of the many beautiful things about the Massive genre - things are always changing.

One thing that doesn't need changing, though, are Lord of the Rings Online's simply stunning graphics. Years from now the choice to go photo-realistic will make the game look horribly dated, all while World of Warcraft's stylized vision remains fresh and crisp. In the meantime, LOTRO offers a simply jaw-droppingly beautiful online experience. EverQuest 2's attempt at realistic graphics in an online game have resulted in goofily appealing characters, but they don't quite capture what I think the game was going for. Middle Earth, on the other hand, is insanely beautiful. The first time you reach a high point in the Shire it is completely worth it to stop, turn your settings all the way up, and just stare across the fields. While the story wraps you into the gameworld intellectually, LOTRO's graphical presentation brings that world to life on a visceral level; New Zealand has nothing on that place.

For the Massive gamer tired of endlessly played options, or the Tolkien fan disappointed with the lore content in Battle For Middle Earth II, Lord of the Rings Online is the perfect balm. While it doesn't try to move the genre forward in any readily appreciable ways, LOTRO is such a well-crafted experience that it's hard not to enjoy yourself. For some, their time in Middle Earth will be just a vacation from other online worlds. For others, though, this may just be the game you've been waiting for. A slower pace, a beautiful presentation, and a gripping story are all readied and waiting just a bit down the road.

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351 comments

The circle is now complete? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19354555)

The circle is now complete.
Is there a reason you'd use a line from Star Wars (and probably older works like Stephen King's The Stand) to describe LoTRO? I mean, it's not like this game is the end of the LoTR cycle, is it?

That sounds like a cliche that should have been included in this week's poll ... used far too often at inappropriate times--unless for humor.

One thing is sure (-1, Troll)

Hubbell (850646) | more than 6 years ago | (#19354579)

You can trust Turbine to gradually rape this game, as it did to Asheron's Call and the abomination known as Asheron's Call 2, as each patch is added.

Nerf the Hobbit! (4, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355039)

(to the tune of "Kill the wabbit")

In the dead of night
A shimmewin' wight
Gweem of a bwade
And dah devew was paid
When dah axe comes down
A chiwin' sound
Steew against dah head
Anothaw Hobbit's dead
I'm a Hobbit swayer
A guitaw pwayaw
With a nasty habbit

Nerf the Hobbit!!! (hah hah hah)
AhhhaahooOhhh
Be vewy vewy qwiet!
I'm wookin' fo Hobbits...

I'm a mean mistweetah
A Hobbbit feastah
And I pwedict
A bwoody Eastaw
A scuwowing shadow
And dah shadow was dis Hobbit
And dah night aiwah echoes
Nerf dah Hobbit!!!
Nerf dah Hobbit!!!
Nerf dah Hobbit!!!
Nerf dah Hobbit!!!
Nerf dah Hobbit!!!
Nerf dah Hobbit!!!
Nerf dah Hobbit!!!
Nerf dah Hobbit!!!

Ohhhh...and dayah won't be any mow Hobbits awound
No mow Frodo Hobbit
No mow Bilbo Hobbit
And no mow gay sidekick Hobbits!
Ah ha ha ha ha
Be vewy vewy cawhafo

Nerf the Troll? (1, Troll)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355587)

I'm a troll now, am I? Was it the "gay sidekick Hobbits" line? Hobbits get mod points now?

Keep wasting your modpoints, Hobbits (1)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355725)

I'm a big nasty troll, and I eats Hobbitses! I've been here since before the karma cap, you can't touch my karma you filthy little Hobbitses. Mod me down and I shall... oops, wrong movie.

Need more abbreviations. (1, Flamebait)

ats-tech (770430) | more than 6 years ago | (#19354585)

I'm all like OMG, WTF?

The reviewer is obviously a noob in the genre. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19355475)

The look and feel that the review states to have been stolen from WoW.. is actually a revamp of the Asherons Call 2 interface Turbine developed years before WoW hit the streets... if anything WoW stole it shamelessly from Turbine... same with the expanding side panels and quick bar slots.

People need to remember that although WoW is wildly popular, there is nothing 'new' in the game that hasnt been done before.. Blizzard is known as the king of copy, polish and publish for a reason.. they havent had an original thought on their staff in years.

Sucks (2, Interesting)

pubjames (468013) | more than 6 years ago | (#19354617)

I purchased it, and spent a weekend trying to get into it.

Frankly, I was really disappointed. The combat system sucks - it actually has a window that says things like "You hit the wolf for two points of damage". It felt like going back in time to the 80's.

And then the graphics might be pretty, but there is not physics system, or, believe it or not, collision detection. You can actually walk through people, even when you are fighting them.

And the tasks suck. Spending half an hour searching for wild flowers is not my idea of fun.

And although the world is big, you can't really explore it - you can't open doors unless they are part of the plot, you can't smash crates or barrels or whatever to see what is inside them, you even can't fight the NPCs or animals unless it is part of the plot.

Personally I don't think it is "polished gameplay" if you try, for instance, trying to do something like shoot a sheep with your crossbow only to receive an error message - yes, really! an error message saying something like "disallowed action".

Sorry but personally I expected much more. It is very pretty though!

Re:Sucks (4, Informative)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 6 years ago | (#19354917)

it actually has a window that says things like "You hit the wolf for two points of damage". It felt like going back in time to the 80's.
Just like World of Warcraft. Just open the combat panel to see all of the hits & affects.

And then the graphics might be pretty, but there is not physics system, or, believe it or not, collision detection. You can actually walk through people, even when you are fighting them.
Just like World of Warcraft. Often times, I'll be fighting something, and it will walk right through me, and I'll get the retarded "You're facing the wrong way" message.

Despite all of these problems, I'm still pretty partial to WoW, so I'll be sticking with it instead of LOTRO. Plus the fact that WoW has a Mac OS X client is pretty important for us G4/G5 owning Mac users :-)

Re:Sucks (2, Insightful)

Fizzol (598030) | more than 6 years ago | (#19354923)

Sounds like you were playing an elf and didn't understand that elves are friends of all critters furry and small. They aren't afraid of you because you can't kill them. "even can't fight the NPCs or animals unless it is part of the plot." only applies to elves and wildlife. Human, dwarves and hobbits can kill little furry critters with pointless abandon.

Re:Sucks (2, Interesting)

pubjames (468013) | more than 6 years ago | (#19354999)

Sounds like you were playing an elf and didn't understand that elves are friends of all critters furry and small.

I was playing a hobbit. And shouldn't it be my choice about what I do in the game? At the very least, it could display a message saying "A hobbit would never do that!" rather than "forbidden action".

Re:Sucks (2, Informative)

Fizzol (598030) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355179)

Okay, you were probably trying to attack someone's sheep in town then. If they have a bright yellow name they're treated like NPCs and you can't attack them.

Re:Sucks (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19355467)

Maybe you were playing on Vista and it was just asking for confirmation?

Do you REALLY want to shoot that cute fuzzy animal? -- Yes/No/Cancel

Re:Sucks (3, Interesting)

fohat (168135) | more than 6 years ago | (#19354985)

I agree with pretty much all of your assessment. I tried playing this game a few times over the course of a week. I got 2 characters to level 5 before losing interest. I've been playing MMO's since 2001, and not since Dark Age of Camelot has there been a more annoying world chat channel. In LOTRO you get to see a message every time a player kills a monster, regardless if they are in your party. I never stuck around long enough to see if this was a feature you could disable, but why in the name of Mandos would you enable such an annoying thing by default??

More DAOC comparisons:
- There's no Fishing Skill
- You can't swim under the water
+ Combat system allows you to click ahead to follow up your last spell/move

If you've never played World of Warcraft, you may like LOTRO. If you are looking for an alternative to WoW, this may or may not be the game for you. Personally, I've canceled both :)

Re:Sucks (1)

jfodale (1032534) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355545)

"I've been playing MMO's since 2001, and not since Dark Age of Camelot has there been a more annoying world chat channel."

Considering there was no world chat channel in DAOC, that's not really saying too much.

Re:Sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19355001)

Frankly, I was really disappointed. The combat system sucks - it actually has a window that says things like "You hit the wolf for two points of damage". It felt like going back in time to the 80's.
Just like World of Warcraft.

And then the graphics might be pretty, but there is not physics system, or, believe it or not, collision detection. You can actually walk through people, even when you are fighting them.
Just like World of Warcraft.

And the tasks suck. Spending half an hour searching for wild flowers is not my idea of fun.
Just like World of Warcraft.

And although the world is big, you can't really explore it - you can't open doors unless they are part of the plot, you can't smash crates or barrels or whatever to see what is inside them, you even can't fight the NPCs or animals unless it is part of the plot.
Almost just like World of Warcraft.

Personally I don't think it is "polished gameplay" if you try, for instance, trying to do something like shoot a sheep with your crossbow only to receive an error message - yes, really! an error message saying something like "disallowed action".
Almost just like World of Warcraft.

Sounds like we have someone here who's never played an MMO before.

Re:Sucks (5, Informative)

Tridus (79566) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355063)

While I think sucks is a bit harsh, "polished" is the last word I'd use to describe this game. Where's the UI scaling option (its way too small on my monitor)? Hell, how do I get a clock on screen? Why do I have to change tools every time I switch between mining copper and chopping wood? I mean really, can't the game figure out that obviously I want to use the axe in my bag to chop wood?

Why does somebody with a really long name and title make it harder to right click on anything around them? Why does right clicking on them by accident (while trying to reach the mailbox their enormous name is in front of) cause a "General Error"? Why do quests tell me to go in the exact opposite direction of where I need to go, to fight Boars 12 levels below the quest level and thus not give XP?

Hell, why does a base stat (Fate) not work? Hello reviewer, a BASE STAT doesn't work! Thats not polished!

Why do I have a deed to kill 60 things in a swamp in the Lone Lands (followed by another deed to kill 120 of them if the pattern holds) when there are only seven spawns in the entire zone? The numbers worked fine for bandits (which there are lots of), but 180 kills with seven spawns? Even if there was no competition (and said mobs are a quest target too, so there is a lot of competition) that'd still take hours. Why does fast travel between zones have a level requirement, and normal horse travel take so bloody long?

Seriously folks. There is a lot of things to like in this game, but its certainly not "polished" yet. It could be a decent diversion if you're bored from WoW, but I think the reviewer was too busy drooling over the graphics to notice some major problems. (God forbid if he tries to level up Scholar, he'll have to spend days at a time camping low level ruins fighting bandits to search old pots, because you can't find the items you need anywhere else.)

Re:Sucks (1)

Knara (9377) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355121)

Frankly, I was really disappointed. The combat system sucks - it actually has a window that says things like "You hit the wolf for two points of damage". It felt like going back in time to the 80's.
Pretty much every MMO I've played has this feature. It might be turned off or in another window by default, but I know for a fact that both WoW and EVE have it.

And then the graphics might be pretty, but there is not physics system, or, believe it or not, collision detection. You can actually walk through people, even when you are fighting them.
See above. You're not racing or playing Pac-Mac. So long as the terrain acts correctly, it's on par with the other major MMOs.

And the tasks suck. Spending half an hour searching for wild flowers is not my idea of fun.
Gathering tasks are pretty standard faire in MMO games. Sometimes they're annoying, but again, this isn't any different than any other mainline MMO out there.

And although the world is big, you can't really explore it - you can't open doors unless they are part of the plot, you can't smash crates or barrels or whatever to see what is inside them, you even can't fight the NPCs or animals unless it is part of the plot.
The animals thing is odd, but depending on the sort of server you're on (PvE for example), most of this isn't uncommon.

Personally I don't think it is "polished gameplay" if you try, for instance, trying to do something like shoot a sheep with your crossbow only to receive an error message - yes, really! an error message saying something like "disallowed action".
Yeah, sounds like that might need a little polishing there, and I gotta say I find it odd that you can't kill random animals. However, your above objections seem to indicate to me that you were looking for a revolutionarily new MMO, when really LOTRO is a pretty straightforward fantasy MMO with a good license and some interesting tweaks. The game isn't bad just because your expectations were too high.

Re:Sucks (1)

pubjames (468013) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355255)

You're not racing or playing Pac-Mac. So long as the terrain acts correctly, it's on par with the other major MMOs.

No, but then I'm used to playing games like Doom, Quake, Half-life and GTA. I don't think it is acceptable for MMOs not to have features (like collision detection, basic physics) that other games have had for a decade, I see no reason for it.

Re:Sucks (1)

Knara (9377) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355699)

What exactly would that add to the gameplay mechanics of the typical MMO? Basic physics? I jump off stuff, I fall. If I fall far enough, I take damage. How is my enjoyment of the game effected by the fact that I walk through vendors?

It's just as likely that you're used to exaggerated physics as used in sandbox games. I mean, look at Crackdown if you want a good example of that. Furthermore, in twitch games like you mentioned, physics adds to the gameplay, but that isn't really the case in most MMOs.

Re:Sucks (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19355807)

There is a very good reason for turning off collision detection: griefing. If you have a guild of sufficiently large size they can wall of the entrance of some dungeon or plot point with their members. If it was a cave or a house, it wouldn't even take very many people. With collision detection on, sorry, you don't get to go in and do that part of the game/get the loot within/turn in your quest items/etc.

So then you'll probably say that's no problem, you can just go hostile, kill the offenders, and get on with your game. Since they're likely in the same faction as you, they should have to agree to go hostile with you. Of course they won't, since they have nothing to gain, so it would just be best to be able to turn hostile to anyone you want on a whim, right?

Nice try, no banana.

Once that happens, the griefers will run around killing low-level players and anyone else they like just for fun, and just to make them mad. Then they're likely to stop playing before making any kind of real progress.

It's just easier to leave collision off or almost off.

Re:Sucks (2, Informative)

Drey (1420) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355177)

> it actually has a window that says things like "You hit the wolf for two points of damage"

Just like most MMOs. WoW, for instance, hides that text on the Combat Log but you can still view it if you choose.

> there is not physics system, or, believe it or not, collision detection.

Just like most MMOs. Collision detection in an MMO would be a horrible drain on the server, especially as dozens of new players begin spawning in at the same spot. Yes, collision detection would have to be done at the server or people would employ all sorts of client-side hacks to cheat.

> Spending half an hour searching for wild flowers is not my idea of fun.

Just like most MMOs.

> ...you can't open doors unless they are part of the plot, you can't smash crates or barrels...

Just like most MMOs.

Hmm, I'm seeing a trend here. MMOs may not be right for you.

Re:Sucks (5, Insightful)

Dancindan84 (1056246) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355221)

You realize that most MMOGs including WoW, the most successful MMOG ever, has every single thing that you mentioned? Have you ever played a MMOG before?

it actually has a window that says things like "You hit the wolf for two points of damage"
While it may not pop up, combat text windows and/or scrolling combat text is pretty much standard. Most MMORPGs are based around rules and random chance (rolls) that deal in numbers. Most MMOG players want to see those numbers.

And then the graphics might be pretty, but there is not physics system, or, believe it or not, collision detection. You can actually walk through people, even when you are fighting them.
This is something that is (pun intended), hit or miss. Collision detection in a MMOG can be annoying as hell in high population areas when you want to get somewhere and can't (AC & CoH/CoV). The flip side is that not having it is unrealistic... and then you realize that what you're running through is a 1/2 imp dragon rogue with a purple hat. Realism is relative.

And the tasks suck. Spending half an hour searching for wild flowers is not my idea of fun.
Sweet Jesus! Their MMOG has grinding! Just like every other one!

And although the world is big, you can't really explore it - you can't open doors unless they are part of the plot
Sounds like trying to enter an instance/dungeon that you aren't attuned to/have the key for in... you guessed it... every other MMOG and well, practically ever other RPG ever made.

you can't smash crates or barrels or whatever to see what is inside them
You want every container you see to be breakable? First off, I get it now. You've only ever played Zelda games. Second, do you know how ridiculous that is? Do you want to be able to look behind every single painting? Read every single book? I'm sure they'll hire 1000 more developers and get right on that for you.

you even can't fight the NPCs or animals unless it is part of the plot.
and

if you try, for instance, trying to do something like shoot a sheep with your crossbow only to receive an error message
This is essentially the same as above. WoW has more of this than most MMOGs I've seen. You can kill rats in the cities, opposing faction NPCs (even quest NPCs). Even they don't have it so that you can attack every single living thing in the game. "I can't attack that" is what my Tauren says.

If you're going to bash a game for not living up to expectations, at least make sure they're realistic expectations first.

Re:Sucks (4, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355271)

Have you played a mmorpg before?

I can't tell if your just being sarcastic or not. People aren't modding you funny though, so I'm not the only one who thinks you at least *might* be serious.

The combat system sucks - it actually has a window that says things like "You hit the wolf for two points of damage". It felt like going back in time to the 80's.

Par for the course:

World of Warcraft:
http://www.rpgfan.com/reviews/wow/wow3.jpg [rpgfan.com]

"Your Shoot Bow hits Onyxia for 92."
"Onyxia suffers 99 Nature damage from Bryna's Serpent Sting." ...

EQ2
http://www.jeffmaloneshirtlesspvp.com/images/EQ2_0 04330.jpg [jeffmalone...esspvp.com]

"Tynsil's Mark of Nobility heals Doobers for 43 hit points."
"Udaho's Ghastly Shroud regenerates 133 points of absorption." ...

Personally I don't think it is "polished gameplay" if you try, for instance, trying to do something like shoot a sheep with your crossbow only to receive an error message - yes, really! an error message saying something like "disallowed action".

So you aren't allowed to shoot the sheep, big deal. They aren't 'opponents' or 'killable creatures', they're just animated background, like a torch, or tree.

And calling that an "error message"? What is it supposed to say when you perform a disallowed action?
Did you also complain when you tried to lockpick a goblin?

And although the world is big, you can't really explore it - you can't open doors unless they are part of the plot, you can't smash crates or barrels or whatever to see what is inside them, you even can't fight the NPCs or animals unless it is part of the plot.

Go play everquest one. It lets you really explore. Of course, the moment you step into the side room the YOU-hating level 65 shadowknight leader was sitting in he executes you on the spot. Or when you get sent to see so-and-so, you can spend 3 hours checking nearly every room in the city, only to find out after much frustration that so-and-so only comes out at night, and he walks around too, and if you don't catch up to him in time his path takes him right to the level 65 shadowknight -- who kills him. (And you too if you happen to be nearby.)

Modern MMORPGs got rid of all that stuff because a lot of players complained bitterly about how it wasn't fair. All that open 'Exploration' was wasting time when looking for things, perpetually getting them lost, and often getting them killed. They wanted maps, and waypoints so they couldn't get lost. They wanted higher level aggressive mobs to be well marked, and far away. They didn't want to open doors and find BIG THINGS that could and would kill them.

So they got what they wanted.

Its sad really.

Re:Sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19355841)

So you are saying you played an MMO?

All that you basically spelled out are all the things that are massively multiplayer games. Apparently you were unaware.

Beware: Middle Earth license (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19354675)

The Middle Earth License is written in Elvish so you have no idea what you are agreeing to in the EULA.

No support for me (3, Insightful)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 6 years ago | (#19354695)

No OSX support, no Linux support. Guess I'm sticking with Warcraft for the time being.

Except Tolkien.... (2, Interesting)

Himring (646324) | more than 6 years ago | (#19354737)

no one is turning in their grave as a result of this game's launch.

Except for JRRT you mean.

I can't wait to be duel-spammed at Tom Bombadil's house....

As a purist who first ventured on to news groups nearly 20 years ago for the simple fact of discussing with other fans the work of Tolkien, I find an official game in the MMOG genre appauling.

I am sure this will get labeled flamebait or troll, but it was one thing when everyone was ripping on the professor and giving no credit. This is kicking in the front door. Whereas some art can be separated from the creator, this simply isn't so with the work of JRRT. The two are one IMO, and homage should be paid. Whereas the movies did work, there was damage done by leaving out such things as Bombadil, and if you don't understand that, then you are not a true fan.

Thus the continued cheapening of Arda continues, but, it can't be any worse than the Frodo in the happy meal my daughter got during the movie releases. Ah, thick irony....

Re:Except Tolkien.... (1)

natedubbya (645990) | more than 6 years ago | (#19354973)

there was damage done by leaving out such things as Bombadil, and if you don't understand that, then you are not a true fan.

I love how everyone who posts about LoTR feels the need to mention Bombadil. Everyone striving to be unique yet using the same platitudes...


Re:Except Tolkien.... (1)

Himring (646324) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355097)

I never claimed my point was unique. And, to argue against my own point, removing Bombadil was necessary to the movie, yet I think Tolkien -- as Tolkien biographer Michael White would agree -- would have hated the movies.

Bombadil was entirely unnecessary to the movies, but entirely necessary to Arda, to the greater telling of the cosmos JRRT created.

I also invite you to watch as many interviews with Peter Jackson & co. as possible. Very little tribute given to Tolkien. About the only person who rightly mentions him, often, is Christopher Lee....

Also, Jackson, 'bought-off,' the official Tolkien fan club by putting their names in the credits at the end of the last movie.

Re:Except Tolkien.... (2, Insightful)

Angostura (703910) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355839)

I would invite to you to listen to the directors' commentary on the extended versions of the film where a lot of credit is given to Tolkien, by Jackson, but especially by Fran Walsh. FWIW, I thought the films were fine, but like all fans there were things that irked me. I hated the changed end of the Fellowship, I disliked intensely the way they hacked about with Denethor's character. But overall, I though they were great. I think of them as a retelling of the same story, but written by different authors ... i.e this was no longer an account written by the arch elf-lover Frodo.

Re:Except Tolkien.... (1)

Lord_Frederick (642312) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355053)

I am no Tolkien scholar, but I thought a big motivation for him to write was the lack of an English mythology. I thought he saw stories from Greek and Norse mythology inspiring others to create their own interpretations and wished that his own country had more of that sort of history to build on.

I would think Tolkien would have been very happy having others take his work, build on it and express it in their own ways and in different mediums.

Re:Except Tolkien.... (2, Insightful)

Himring (646324) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355245)

I would think Tolkien would have been very happy having others take his work, build on it and express it in their own ways and in different mediums.

That thought would be correct except he specifically stated only his son, Christopher, could do so.

Unlike Lucas who has no problem with others dabbling in SW mythos, even directing and writing, etc., Tolkien was extremely picky and protective of his work. This is a well-known fact.

The risk, you see, is that Arda -- Tolkien's greater world -- is at risk in losing its true meaning. This Tolkien knew and this he sought to prevent. Unlike Mickey Mouse, there is no way to stop it becoming a ... game....

Re:Except Tolkien.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19355081)

As a purist who first ventured on to news groups nearly 20 years ago for the simple fact of discussing with other fans the work of Tolkien,

 
dude i think i saw you yesterday... oh wait, nevermind, that was just some unshaven homeless vagabond holding a branch who just happened slightly resemble to ian mckellen.
 
not to hate on ya, but damn dude, you needed some real fucking hobbies 20 years ago.... damnit, like i should talk, we're both /.ing :(

Re:Except Tolkien.... (4, Interesting)

Slightly Askew (638918) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355119)

Forget Bombadil, I want Wormtongue slitting Saruman's throat. At least Bombadil was left out completely. Saruman was brought in, developed, made an interesting part of the story, then dropped like a red hot palantir.

Re:Except Tolkien.... (4, Informative)

Knara (9377) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355229)

Just FYI the extended edition DVDs have Wormtongue killing Saruman. Not at the Scouring, but nonetheless.

Re:Except Tolkien.... (1)

Slightly Askew (638918) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355309)

I did not know that, thanks. I'll have to get a copy. Does Saruman stab Frodo? How does Saruman make Wormtongue snap (obviously not in reference to killing Lotho, if they're not in the Shire). Are there any other critical story lines included in extended edition that were left out of regular? Thanks again.

Re:Except Tolkien.... (1)

Himring (646324) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355557)

Yes, but the stabbing takes place on top of Isengard whereas the book puts it at the end of "the scouring of the shire." So, the movies fail again, but, we're not having a problem with that....

Re:Except Tolkien.... (4, Informative)

Knara (9377) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355575)

The Extended Editions are, all around, vastly superior to the theatrical versions. There's still things missing / re-arranged (obviously, otherwise the movies would clock in at around 50 hours and watch similarly to how the Simarillion reads), but a fair amount of things that boil down to background/lore references (i.e a scene where Aragorn is on watch at night and singing a ballad of beren and luthien to himself, explaining the story to one of the hobbits) are included that would frankly have been lost on the theatrical mainstream viewer.

Re:Except Tolkien.... (1)

giorgiofr (887762) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355353)

Watch the extended edition, man. There's no throat-cutting but still it's better than the theatrical edition.

Re:Except Tolkien.... (4, Interesting)

profplump (309017) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355227)

Good point. You've convinced me to join Disney in their fight to prevent any derivative works from every being created. Of course if we did that JRRT couldn't have written in the first place, as his works are derivative of several works of older lore, but hey, we'll have to take the good with the bad.

Seriously, what are you hoping to accomplish here? JRRT's work was great, I agree. The game is nothing like his work, I also agree. But I can't figure out how the game is diminishing the original work, or if it were, why you feel entitled to stop it -- one could just as easily argue that JJRT's work diminishes the game and that his books should be suppressed.

Re:Except Tolkien.... (2, Interesting)

Himring (646324) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355499)

Of course if we did that JRRT couldn't have written in the first place, as his works are derivative of several works of older lore, but hey, we'll have to take the good with the bad.

That's like saying your parents never had any rights to you as a child because, after all, you're made of the same stuff all other humans have been for eons. No, your parents uniquely made you, and therefore, had a right to raise and make decisions on your upbringing.

Yes, Tolkien 'borrowed' the stuffs of lore, but he so uniquely put it into a world, and such a unique world, that no one else has come close. As one friend told me, "when reading fantasy, never start with Tolkien." Why? Because you realize that all the rest is a rip off of him.

Tolkien's work is not even just another Dune or Star Wars or anything of the sort. Tolkien, as they say, wrote a good story, everyone else makes a stab at it.

Consider: how many authors create a language -- a full language -- for their work? Tolkien made five. How many develope an entire chronological cosmology -- from beginning to ending. How many create an entire mythos for this world? How many write an extremely detailed history from first created of a race until its end? How many do this for multiple races: dwarfs, elves, humans. Mind you, after all of this, almost as an after thought, he wrote LoTR -- as a filler for his world.

Now, tell me, wtf does this have to do with a game by the same name? Absolutely positively nothing.

The danger is this: every person or child who is introduced to probably the greatest story ever conceived and delivered will come into it ... in a game....

Yes, I am a biased fanboy....

Re:Except Tolkien.... (0, Flamebait)

Knara (9377) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355611)

You're way past being a biased fanboy. You're kneeling at Tolkien's figurative feet and sucking his cock. Get over yourself, seriously.

Re:Except Tolkien.... (1)

Lord_Frederick (642312) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355881)

"The danger is this: every person or child who is introduced to probably the greatest story ever conceived and delivered will come into it ... in a game.... "

At least they are being exposed to it in the first place.

I never would have read the books had I not received a version of The Hobbit on one of those little records from Hardees. Remember those? Where the chime told you when to turn the page?

That short little story on a record caused me to ask my parents for the real books. Had I not been exposed to that cheesy fast food promotion, I may not have read Tolkien until much later in my life.

Re:Except Tolkien.... (3, Insightful)

Angostura (703910) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355709)

You seem very sure that Tolkien would have objected, but I can see no evidence. The man wasn't averse to an animated film after all. He may well have been intrigued by the idea of a multiplayer computer games based upon his work. He may well have embraced the whole idea with enthusiasm as a way to build a detailed world in the way that he loved, and making available to people in a way that they could interact with. Who knows.

Re:Except Tolkien.... (1)

Himring (646324) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355823)

You seem very sure that Tolkien would have objected, but I can see no evidence.

Two words: Michael White. Look up his thoughts on what Tolkien would have thought of the movie.

Tolkien did indeed sell the movie rights for 10k pounds in the late 1960s. However, both he and Christopher, apparently, stated it would not dramatize well. Also, knowing that he had a rather huge family to support -- and took up such extra jobs as grading jr school papers -- I would imagine he needed the money.

In any event, I do believe I remember a quote where he did learn of the early forms of d&d just prior to his death and did not favor them at all....

He was a literary being, not a gamer....

Faithful to the books? (4, Funny)

OglinTatas (710589) | more than 6 years ago | (#19354743)

If so, then I (a mac guy) am going to buy a windows PC just so I can play this game... and start a guild whose sole purpose is to hunt down and destroy Tom Bombadil, as often as is necessary.

AAA MMORPGS... WTF? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19354769)

"New AAA MMOGs, though, have been grimly received. Some of the biggest games launched since WoW include: The Matrix Online, ArchLord, Dungeons and Dragons Online, Auto Assault, and Vanguard."

Note: if you consider that list to represent "AAA" MMOGs, your review holds considerably less weight than, say, an article by JonKatz.

The deeds system (1)

MaXimillion (856525) | more than 6 years ago | (#19354795)

Sounds pretty much like a slightly more developed version of the badge system in Co(H/V) (Also seen in a few other MMO's as well, I believe), so I'd hardly call it unique.

Accurate Review (5, Insightful)

bostonkarl (795447) | more than 6 years ago | (#19354841)

There will be lots of hate posts from people that haven't tried the game. Or that just don't like or "get" Tolkein. But, if you love the books, the game is definately worth picking up and giving a spin. It is as if Middle Earth has been brought to life by people that really cared to get it right. You'll actually find yourself reading the quests. Yes the user interface is cluncky, but not that bad. The game isn't perfect, but it was a huge surprise to me how good it is. My one concern is that it wont have sticking power. It may end up being a lovely flash in the pan. It all depends upon how, what, and when content is added.

Re:Accurate Review (2, Interesting)

pubjames (468013) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355031)

But, if you love the books, the game is definately worth picking up and giving a spin.

I disagree. If you like games like World of Warcraft, then take a look, you might like it. But I love the books and really thought the game sucked completely. It's a game for fricks sake - above all it should be fun to play. Having a crappy combat system does not make for a good game, however faithful the game is to the books or pretty the graphics are.

Re:Accurate Review (1)

bostonkarl (795447) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355651)

To each his own -- there will be lots of opinions. You don't like the combat system, cool. But I don't remember the books describing a combat system ;-) Joke, joke.

Different people will look for different things in a game. For me, as an EQ player from 1999 - 2005, I look for community and sense of immersion. I and am willing to overlook UI flaws (which are, frankly, the easiest thing to fix and probably will be) and the rather different combat system.

I felt, like the auther, immersed in the feel of the books. You didn't. Cool. Two different people with a difference of opinion. The sky is not falling.

Bizarre to review it so early... (4, Insightful)

VE3OGG (1034632) | more than 6 years ago | (#19354865)

I realize people want to know "should I shell out my hard earned cash for this?" However, reviewing a game that can change every other month and coming to one conclusion (yes/no) is ridiculous at best.

While it might be pretty (or as others have pointed out, have a very limited combat system), all of these things can change very quickly.

So, let us take for example, that it has a really strong story line: what is to say this continues next month when thousands of 13-15 yr olds coming charging in and act like asses (much like what happened with WoW)? Suddenly the story begins to slide tremendously.

Or Asheron's Call is another example. I remember signing up to Asheron's Call's beta test and enjoying it immensely (the Otholoi story was quite interesting). However, as time went on, the story was down right pathetic, and monthly updates were mostly patches and nerfs. Story went by the wayside.

I would say, whatever you read in reviews (or hell, even if you aren't going to read any reviews) don't charge into this game until it matures a little. Since, much like Apple's early adopters, you usually get a nerfed product in the end. Wait until you can see whether the devs will continue the strong and fix up the weak stuff.

By the way, last I head, this game was being published by EA, don't we hate them? Or were we always at peace with Eurasia?

Re:Bizarre to review it so early... (1)

faloi (738831) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355263)

I realize people want to know "should I shell out my hard earned cash for this?" However, reviewing a game that can change every other month and coming to one conclusion (yes/no) is ridiculous at best.

I disagree. Certainly the game can change, and change dramatically on release, but reviewing MMORPGs early is a good way to inform me whether I should care enough to shell out my hard earned cash.

I'm a casual player. The fact that there's no high end content and there's no griping about the quality of low end content tells me that the leveling process is likely to have a decent feel. Players getting to max level relatively quickly also tells me that it's probably not too bad a grind (when "badness" of a grind is measured by the amount of time spent for no other reason than to level up). Multiple classes being able to heal, and healer classes being able to do damage, combined with the assertion that people can solo probably means you can pick a class you like and run with it, without having to have 5 of your best friends by your side all the time.

The crafting system sounds like it was thrown in, more or less, so they could have crafting. Chances are that means it will end up a poor afterthought like in most games.

The deed system sounds like CoH/CoV. Nothing real special there.

There's no mention in the article about instanced areas. There's nothing about any mentoring systems (like in CoH and EQ2) that may or may not be in place. No mention of integrated voice chat systems (not that it's important, with all the other options). I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the game just doesn't have any of those features. Someone will doubtless correct me.

All in all, the review gives me the info I need to make a decision whether to try it out now. It's not being played up as a hardcore system like Vanguard, it sounds geared toward (or at least available to) casual/solo players. It's early enough that mudflation hasn't set in (I'd hope). I'll probably try it out, then figure out whether it's really worth $15 a month.

Re:Bizarre to review it so early... (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355727)

Given some of your points, I could see how you would conclude that it's best to wait for a game to mature before you invest your time. On the other hand, i could also see how a person might argue that you should get involved as quickly as possible so as to get some time in while it's a good game, before it's ruined.

Re:Bizarre to review it so early... (1)

jfodale (1032534) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355825)

A review now is needed, in case anyone want to jump in early - which is usually most MMO gamers.

You have valid points though. Really, the standard game review system should not be applied to MMOs. It's no secret these games change - a ton. MMO reviews should be done on an annual/bi-annual basis.

You don't play much other than WoW, do you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19354869)

"Deeds are a unique element to Lord of the Rings Online, a kind of achievement system somewhat reminiscent of those earned on the Xbox 360."

I can only assume that the reviewer has never heard of City of Heroes (it's been three years, better catch up). Deeds = Badges in CoH, Virtues = Accolades, although they seem to be putting more emphasis on character progress with these latter ones in LOTRO, it's still a pretty similar system. On a similar note, the combat being "borrowed from WoW" is, according to the description, pretty similar to what we've been seeing for the last half a decade or so. The Healer/Tank/DPS not being strict, or being spread out isn't unique to LOTR either.

Not that I'm specially saying that CoH is 'teh bestest evur!1' or anything like that, it's just what I'm more familiar with, but I'd like of people who do these reviews in a sort of professional manner stopped thinking that WoW is the only thing out there. In number of players, yeah, it dwarfs much of the competition, but in terms of gameplay and design there's a wide world out there, look into it before giving 'expert opinions'.

WoW vs Other (3, Interesting)

ajanp (1083247) | more than 6 years ago | (#19354905)

It's not even a question that WoW wins. I didn't RTFA, but I don't know why it's on /. now considering this game came out back in April. Given that WoW has been out for 2+ years now, there are a large number of both casual and "hard-core" gamers that are getting tired with the game and looking for something new. The present MMORPG competition is starting to get better, but there haven't been any alternatives to WoW that have the power to convert a large number of WoW players to a completely different game.

With the brand name power of LOTR, you would think this would be able to strongly compete, but I think WoW just has too large of a player base and too much power in the MMORPG genre to really need to deal with losing a LARGE number of players. I mean, there are a ton of WoW players who are becoming weary after 2 years and looking for something new and might move on to a different game, but LOTR Online isn't going to be the WoW killer.

With more and more MMORPG games coming into the market, and the quality of these games getting better and better, it's just a matter of time until a game comes along that will have enough appeal to give WoW some trouble. Chances are players will start leaving slowly for other games (most likely after a major patch release), rejoining the real world, etc, but Blizzard's time will come soon enough and chances are they will be their own downfall.

Re:WoW vs Other (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355359)

With more and more MMORPG games coming into the market, and the quality of these games getting better and better, it's just a matter of time until a game comes along that will have enough appeal to give WoW some trouble.

Better != Appeal. As any number of fans of any form of entertainment and most typical merchandise can tell you; sales and popularity are not a true indicator of quality or talent.

As far as giving WoW some trouble? Who cares. If you're playing a game that you like it's a game that you like. As long as whatever MMORPG(s) anyone is playing aren't going under who cares about what WoW is doing? Aside from bean counters most people don't care who's the big kid on the block at the time. If you're playing WoW simply because it's fashionable that's pretty sad.

Chances are players will start leaving slowly for other games (most likely after a major patch release), rejoining the real world, etc, but Blizzard's time will come soon enough and chances are they will be their own downfall.

Actually, ask the people who've already left WoW to find out why they've left. The only former WoW addict that I know of left to play EQ2 and said that WoW became too tedious because of constant grouping and raids in the end game. She wanted to solo for the most part and enjoyed EQ2 because of it. I nearly game WoW a spin myself until I heard about the amount of raids and such. I just can not play a game on someone else's schedule and I enjoy soloing.

The sure way to tell if WoW is it's own worst enemy is to see if players are not as much looking for something new but getting bored with something old. Once people start talking about jumping ship with no lifeboat you know there are problems.

Uniqueness of LOTRO (3, Interesting)

Techguy666 (759128) | more than 6 years ago | (#19354907)

Deeds are a unique element to Lord of the Rings Online, a kind of achievement system somewhat reminiscent of those earned on the Xbox 360. They're discovered by doing the act the deed requires for the first time; for example, many require a certain number of monsters to be slain. The first time you kill a wolf in the Shire, your UI notes that you've begun work on the 'Wolf Slayer' deed.

Deeds are interesting but hardly unique. The MMORPG that captured the spirit of deeds best was "City of Heroes". Even before Xbox 360, CoH allowed your hero to have cool titles. By defeating enough specific mobs or visiting a string of significant locations, even your lowliest characters could have cool titles such as "Dark Mystic" and such. If you were a lowly level ten superhero, you can pass by a unique location and collect a cool badge to tack on to your name. I think the badge/deed system is particularly good for retaining low level characters and for bored high level players.

Re:Uniqueness of LOTRO (1)

Fizzol (598030) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355099)

LOTRO deeds are different from CoX badges because a lot of them aren't simply ornamental titles. Many LOTRO deeds result in useable skills and stat bonuses. Hit things enough times with your staff and you can gain a "Staff Strike" ability which gives you a chance to stun your opponents. Right now my Lore-master is working on his "Emnity with Wargs II" deed which results in a racial ability that lets him basically teleport (the game calls it mapping) back to Bree.

Re:Uniqueness of LOTRO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19355453)

>Many LOTRO deeds result in useable skills and stat bonuses

There are called 'Accolades' in CoH, and can be gained by collecting multiple "themed" Badges.

EQ2 (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355201)

EQ2 has the same sysetm, you get titles for slaying a certain number of gnolls/orcs/undead/etc. And this predates WoW, though not CoH.

Re:Uniqueness of LOTRO (1)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355287)

I don't know about the other games, but in LOTRO deeds can gain you more than just titles. The deeds gain you titles and "traits".

You gain or improve a specific trait (fortitude, charity, determination, etc...) by finishing the particular deed associated with it. Each trait has multiple effects on your character attributes, for example it might increase your disease resistance by 2% and increase your agility by 2 points.

There about 10 or so traits, but you can only have a certain portion of them "equipped" at one time, depending on your level. There is a certain strategy element to this in deciding which traits to go after and which ones to upgrade thru further deeds. For example you might be want to try to focus on boosting agility, or morale, or melee damage or whatever, or you might try different ways of balancing these.

Mac user (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19354915)

I would love to see it. But I gave up MS a few years ago and mac it. So, I am stuck with mac only games since I am not going back to bootcamp.

Luckily, Blizzard takes mac gamers seriously. And others do port here and there. And my mac experience has been very positive overall so I am done with MS. Period.

What is my point? Not sure ... I love Tolkien, would love to have tried it. I just wish more ports to mac happened. Some companies make the effort. Some dont. :( I wonder just how many mac users are needed to see games on macs nearly as often as they are on pc's.

I guess I will have to suck it up like with Oblivion and others. Not the worst loss for sure, but meh anyway.

It looks terrible. (1, Troll)

Trespass (225077) | more than 6 years ago | (#19354933)

Like World of Warcraft, only brown. With a franchise that has had so much material created for it, there's no excuse for art direction this abysmal.

Re:It looks terrible. (1)

Trespass (225077) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355075)

Seriously, this isn't 2001. Look at the game then look at other games of the same generation and tell me this isn't a cynical cashing in on the franchise.

Forgive the AC... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19354979)

(Too lazy to dig up what my password is, as I haven't posted here in years...)

Zonk mentions that he misses Howard Shore's sweeping stirring score. He did not, however, mention the in-game music system, which is admittedly limited now but will be expanded with the June update. Starting at level 5, players can purchase the ability to use a lute or clarinet, and by equipping an instrument and typing /music, they can begin playing. Number 1-8 play the appropriate note, while ctrl-# plays a flat version, and shift-# goes up an octave.

If you want to play the Shire theme, equip a lute, and plunk out 123 5 3 2 1, 356 8543 432.

One of the highlights of the game for me, so far, was after four of us defeated a Mountain Troll, I started a campfire, we all pulled out our instruments, and played a resounding round of Row, Row, Row Your Boat. (1, 1, 123, 32345, 888 555 333 111 54321)

You tell me that the Fellowship didn't really do that on Weathertop. Go on, try to convince me.

Re:Forgive the AC... (0, Flamebait)

BosstonesOwn (794949) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355257)

Try getting out of that dark basement and doing this with real people in a real place ! It may surprise you , you might find a girlfriend.

Re:Forgive the AC... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19355511)

Same AC here - don't worry, my wife's a piano teacher, and she thinks this is hilarious. You're right, though, I do play in my basement, with my Pizzazz Pizza Oven between the two monitors on my desk.

I like to pretend that the Totino's Party Pizzas are made of lembas.

Why the Movie Comparison (2, Insightful)

Omestes (471991) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355005)

Given the respect for the setting it's another minor quibble, but the lack of any sort of tie-in to the Peter Jackson helmed movies is, in my mind, a lapse.


Why? LoTR predates the movie by quite a bit, and I'm guessing that the market for this game is more the geeky market, than people who first think of Elija Woods when they think of Frodo. I'm rather glad that it isn't a movie tie in, to be honest, since I still don't feel that the movies were the best representation of Tolkein's works, since they were completely (and grudgingly unnecessarily) lacking in nuance. People coming to the game, with mostly experience from the movie, would be disappointed, and wonder what all that wretched "back story" is.

It is an interesting commentary on something or another, though, that its setting mentioned primarily as parity with with movie, and not with the books, or the rest of the canon. I would care more about little glimpses of events from the Similarian, and little snippets from Lost Tales, etc... It would add more context for me, than having Vigo Mortenson voice Strider.

Game isn't that Great (4, Insightful)

ThePolkapunk (826529) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355007)

I completely disagree with this review. To me, LOTRO is a poor man's WoW. I find the graphics to be underwhelming, the questing to be more dull than WoW, and the UI, combat and gameplay to be poor in comparison to WoW. The thing this review stresses over and over and over is that the license is what makes the game great. How can you review a game like this and primarily talk about how you love the license? That's like reviewing a crappy movie license game and saying it's a great game because you loved the movie.

As a person who has only a passing knowledge of LOTR, a license doesn't make this game any more enjoyable than any other MMOG. It ends up being just another cookie cutter MMORPG. Every minute I spent playing it felt like a chore and I have no intention of playing it again. Granted I hate WoW almost as much, but I recognize that it's a bit more polished in many ways.

Meh. (2, Insightful)

TheGreatOrangePeel (618581) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355015)

So, on the recomendation of two people, including one who I had played WoW with a few times, I went out and just bought a copy expecting to love it. My reaction is much more "meh" than anything else. It's fun, but between the low framerate for the buttons and the ever persistant lag (I've yet to have smooth gameplay for more than half a minute) I'd rather not play any MMORPG right now.

Another MMORPG which is commercially drained out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19355027)

The mmorpg world is a commecial drained out world. It barely has any orginality left.
Developers are almost forced to switch from rpgs to mmorpgs to atleast pay the bills, real rpgs aren't made anymore they pretty much died by the world of mmorpgs and yes maybe by the force of using 3d too. mmorpgs are nothing more but a product of fame and money. It just doesn't contain anything original it doesn't contain a deep story and it certainly doesn't contain any fun elements other then playing with your friends it doesn't really contain gameplay if you compare it to games like mmorpgs.
It will never and ever be the same and as fun as mmorpgs. mmorpgs are just a misconception of rpgs.
If you create a mmorpg on the world of tolkien like lotr online then I think the developers haven't understood the world at all. I mean how can you even experience the world like tolkiens world in a mmorpgs which you can do nothing but level, fight, questing where everybody has the same quest? The mmmorpg world has totally never understood the concept of originality, rpgs, fun, dynamic and gameplay. It has failed upon all fronts. So my conclusion is that the mmorpg world which is a hot topic even in the mass and mainstream media is that if you make alot of commercials for it and if you hype a genre hot enuff' then people will eventually buy it and somehow unconsciencely adapt at something so awful and somehow will be able to have some fun with it even though they know it doesn't really contain alot other then some traveling, questing and killing which is also very basic. The only fun part is that you can play and talk with your friends in some pixelated world. And if you think it can be improved? No, it can't unless you bring in real life farmers, real life architecs etc whom will presume their proffesion online...

nuff said.

Just Could Not Get Into It (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19355049)

I bought the game and had high hopes. Played a hobbit minstrel for about 3 weeks and just could not get into the game. The scenery looked nice but the characters just didn't do it for me. The fighting and fight animation didn't excite me at all. To do damage to a monster or beast I was playing a guitar at it. A mother fucking guitar. To do damage. Call me strange but that was just odd to me.

My personal opinion is that if this game didn't have the "Lord of the Rings" title attached to it, it would be a miserable failure. The only people that will probably be interested in this game are hardcore LOTR fans that just get off on being in the shire and being able to finally talk to Frodo.

Re:Just Could Not Get Into It (1)

maelgon (126631) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355631)

So you object to killing them softly? Perhaps you should have tried a more traditional damage-dealer like a champion or hunter.

Fantasy MMOs have run their course (2, Interesting)

leathered (780018) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355055)

Eight years ago a game called Everquest was launched that was to define the fantasy MMO. Since then all we have seen is at best a refinement of the genre, at worst merely a rehash. LOTRO falls between them, bringing a beautifully crafted (though rather small) world with the same old gear-driven, level treadmill style of gameplay that for me is becoming increasingly tiresome. Another point worth mentioning is that there is a glaring lack of content, at this moment even a casual player will end up hitting the level cap in a matter of weeks and it seems that there is precious little end-game content, which is precisely what drove me from WoW.

What MMORPGs need right now is a title that is revolutionary, a real sandbox game whose direction the players get to influence. Star Wars Galaxies was heading that way until Sony killed it with the gameplay changes. Age of Conan and Warhammer look promising but as it stands I expect disappointment.

Re:Fantasy MMOs have run their course (1)

doh123 (951318) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355485)

I'm waiting for Star Trek Online, and Stargate Worlds... I think they have more of a chance at a big change... maybe its just because I'm sick of the medieval type MMOGs.

No Howard Shore Soundtrack? (1)

Lumbergh (1053438) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355117)

I think the lack of the instantly-recognizable soundtrack from the Peter Jackson films will be a turn-off for many. Its presence would add greatly to the sense of familiarity and belonging that helps beginners get used to the game and coax players of other games to try it.

Of course, I realize that for a game, the Shore soundtrack alone would be insufficient to cover all situations and nuances of gameplay, but its complete absence is, I must say, rather astonishing.

Re:No Howard Shore Soundtrack? (1)

Knara (9377) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355409)

I dunno. I usually turn off the music tracks in MMOs. EVE was an exception for a while, tho.

Party of five? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19355133)

Fredo, Slim, Maury, Poppin, and of course... Gandorf.

But how is it as a timesink? (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355161)

The problems with MMO's is they never end. I picked up some games from STEAM a few weeks back, going through some of the classics I never had time for. I'm halfway through one of the games and it will remain for me when I get back to it. To "get anywhere" with the game you play it to completion. Then if you really enjoyed it you can play through it again or just go on to the next game. You can play civilization and get a damn long game out of the scenario you setup. Once you beat it you can start another game or leave it sit for a few weeks before coming back to it. But this online stuff requires too much commitment. Hell, even something like CounterStrike can become a time sink if you become part of a clan and have tournies and the like.

It seems like the problem with MMO's is that there's only so much canned content they can stick in the game, it'd take you 20 hours to play through it if it were single player so they put a grind in to pad things out. Then when you finally beat all the scripted content, the endgame you're left with is raiding to get cool gear so you can raid bigger dungeons to get better gear to (loop).

I'm starting to think of MMO's as "retirement games" because I'll have to be retired before I have time to play 'em. Yeah, I remember hating visiting my grandparents because all they did was sit around and watch daytime game shows. I can see the future. "Grandpa and grandma suck! We come over and visit and they just keep playing those stupid MMO's. And the cats! So many cats!"

Fuck comparisons to WoW (2, Insightful)

everphilski (877346) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355277)

Seriously. Fuck them.

Wow is a lowest common denominator game. Why should we all want to aspire towards WoW? That's like saying, gee, 51% of the world is men, so all women should aspire to get sex changes so they should be part of the majority. Ridiculous, isn't it?

Personally, I played it for three months and sold my account (for a tidy profit, no less). I'm a huge Blizzard fan - wasted way too much of my college life on Starcraft and Diablo II. But don't aspire for the common denominator. Games should be held to their own standards of uniqueness, etc. For example, I prefer EQ, because of the complexity of the game over WoW. It has aspects that just haven't been replicated in the current crop of 'carebear' MMO's. I'm not trying to rant, my point is, MMO's should strive for specific crowds (like the hardcores, or the sci-fi buffs, or ... ? whats next?) instead of trying to be the 10,000lb gorrilla.

That is all.

No mention of PvP... (1)

brooke_nobody (972787) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355285)

Wow, a comprehensive review of the game and there's no mention of PvP. 'Nuff said, I suppose! Warhammer Online, here I come! /punts a hobbit

What's up with those screenshots (2, Insightful)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355363)

Seriously. Elrond has a normal-sized forehead? Narsil is a coffee-table centerpiece? And what's up with that kung-fu grip?

Deeds are *not* unique! (3, Insightful)

T.E.D. (34228) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355465)

Deeds are a unique element to Lord of the Rings Online, a kind of achievement system somewhat reminiscent of those earned on the Xbox 360.


Ummm....no. The Deed/Title stuff is pretty much a direct copy of what City of Heroes has been doing for years with its "Badges" and Titles. There's nothing wrong with that. Its a neat game mechanic, that allows you to further personalize your character, and I'm damn glad to see other games picking up on it. Just don't go spreading myths that LotRO thought this up themselves.

I'd like to stress again what a nice feature this is, particularly for a game like LotRO, where you don't have nearly enough character creation options to differentiate yourself. A really obscure or difficult to achieve title can be a significant source of pride. I had one in CoH for working off a massive amount of death debt. You basicly have to die an impressive amount of times in a row to achieve this; sort of a perverse badge of incompetence. I wore it proudly. :-)

Re:Deeds are *not* unique! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19355819)

Hey, Fucktard... if you complete a deed far enough, you get a "talent" boost to your character. Did COH have that? NO. So please STFU and die. Thx.

A generally very well-done review (1)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355473)

I haven't played the game, or even knew it was coming out. I've never actually played a graphical ORPG (Valhalla or Discworld MUDs, anyone?), so I'm not entirely sure what has to be mentioned and compared to other MMORPGs. This having been said, the review seemed well-written, _spellchecked_, and even had commas in the right place. Pretty much a pleasure to read. Well-done, Zonk! I'll let others bitch about the favorable comments.

Re:A generally very well-done review (1)

rAiNsT0rm (877553) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355741)

OK, I'll bite.

So you don't know this game is already out, or anything about any MMO ever created... but because a bonehead has the ability to spellcheck and use proper English, it is an AMAZING REVIEW!!!1!1eleventy!

Get off your knees and zip up ole Zorky. What in the hell would drive anyone to even write a post like yours? Go read some real game reviews, better yet, go read other reviews of LotR by REAL game reviewers and then try again.

You fail teh Internets.

As always let me say... (3, Insightful)

rAiNsT0rm (877553) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355507)

Please Zonk give up on your so called "game reviews." I had the pleasure to work as a reviewer for a number of years, and with some truly talented folks... and you, sir, ain't got it.

These "reviews" are just sad. I say it every time, and know it is always an instant ticket to -1's-ville but I've got Karma to burn. No one enjoys them and certainly no one is compelled to buy a game based on your words. They are like a self ego booster or something I guess for you, but what they show is how difficult it really is to write a solid review. They take lots of intelligence, time, attention to detail, and personal investment... and it is clear that you fail on every one of them.

Give it up already.

Asherons Call Darktide (1)

Bpa (823824) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355521)

Did anyone ever play Asheron's Call on the all PK Darktide server? The main story didn't even matter, because you could PK anyone anywhere. Users created their own story. This was extremely fasinating as politics and economics emerged and it evolved as a lifelike system. To hunt in a dungeon, you would have to earn the right by taking it over with friends or solo. To control a town with the best prices, your guild would have to constantly defend it. Everyone is too scared to try these things and consequently all new MMORPGs suck! At least have one server that truely gives people freedom so the real players can play it. Everyone else can be content with simply fighting NPC's or some controled PK system that is just as redundant as doing the same quests over and over if you want to start a new char. Nothing has since compared to AC1 Darktide in terms of gameplay. The only reason I quit playing to try other things was graphics. Not a single MMO has held my interest anywhere near as long as AC did.

It's a decent game (1)

JasonWM (991689) | more than 6 years ago | (#19355623)

I played LOTRO during beta and currently hold accounts.

This is a fun game, not addictive at all IMHO, but a good diversion. Yes, I've read the books, seen the movies yadda yadda.

Yes, it does look good, but if you have played most other MMO's out there you will I think you will suffer from the same feeling as I have. The feeling of "I've played this game before."
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