|This review is for the Steam downloadable PC version of the game.
"I always check to see if there is a good trainer or cheat for a game before I buy it. If there is no trainer or cheat why bother." from a post at Cheat Happens. I heartily concur.
Where single player versions of the game are available, trainers and cheats make the game easier to play as a story rather than a challenge for the reflexes of the young. I have reviewed for publication over 3000 games, which means I played them all to completion at least once. The challenge of winning the game on hard mode is no longer one of my life's goals. I am interested in the story and the mechanics. Cheats help me to get to points in the game where I can examine the game more carefully. For me, this is fun.
I am happy to say that the Cheat Happens trainer is very effective throughout the game from beginning to end. I found the health replenishment and the super melee damage most effective in keeping battles to the minimum and story to the forefront. As a result it took me less than two days to complete the game. And since I don't consider extended battles or repeated deaths to be fun, the trainer worked quit well for my purposes.
The game is behind the back perspective in melee mode and in ranged mode it is pure first person perspective. The game play takes you across the north in the middle earth. You can quick travel from one place to the next quite easily.
If the game has a downside it is the lack of content, the repeated crashes in the lower levels of Carn Dum, the linear nature of the game, and the lack of a local mini-map in the interface that shows available paths. It could be argued that a local mini-map was not needed in such a game. It would have been nice to know where the unexplored areas were to make sure I found all the loot and items needed to complete all the side quests.
There were very few side quests. There was no way to know where quest items were located except by keeping your eyes open. Quest items were not obviously marked on the map as with many games. Looting every barrel, box, pile of debris, and chests was absolutely necessary in completing the quests.
Walking over items was sufficient to pick them up which I found a valuable feature to save repeatedly clicking the mouse or pressing a loot button. I wish more games would use this feature. Automatic looting of chests seems like a logical extension of this feature. Perhaps gamers are not ready for this improvement.
The graphics were wonderfully detailed and rendered. Armor and weapons were especially nice. The environment at times was boring. I suspect something about the complex background graphics and animations in the bottom levels of Carn Dum caused the crashes.
Voice acting was wonderful. The dwarf tank sounded like John Rice-Davies. The elf wizard sounded a proper elf. The dunadain archer had a wonderful voice.
During the game you get to meet giant eagles, many of the inhabitants of Middle Earth during the time when Frodo carries the ring to Mt. Doom. Strider, Bilbo, Elrond and many other middle earth inhabitants look and sound like they did in the popular Peter Jackson films.
"The play is the thing," said the bard. The story kept me interested from the beginning to the end. For fans of the Lord of the Rings trilogy many will find the game a delight. Some might find some of the weaknesses I spoke of earlier to be too great a deficiency to recommend the game.
Walking around was achieved on the PC by the WASD keys. Switching from the ranged to melee weapons was swift and easy for me with the mouse wheel.
There is a standard paper doll interface for putting on armor and weapons. The inventory was split so there was a special inventory for each slot in the paper doll interface making the inventory organized and manageable with automatic sorting of rings, necklace, weapons and armor. My only suggestion is that they should have had separate inventories for junk, imbued gems, potions, arrows, and bolts. Separate inventories for types of items was wonderful in the game but could have been further enhanced. Another suggestion would be to convert unusable junk straight to gold instead of having a button for selling it all to the vendor.
Inventory is always a sore spot for me. Often there are weight restrictions which I hate. Thankfully there were no weight restrictions on the inventory items. Inventory was a bit cumbersome and in spite of the wonderful shops strategically placed around the game, I ran out of room and was required to drop items many times. This is an unnecessary "bookkeeping" (translated this as tedious) inventory management that the gamer need not be burdened with.
My rating of the game is 4 out of 5 stars. But then I am a fan of Role Playing Games in general and especially Computer Role Playing games and the original books by J. R. R. Tolkien and the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films.
Controls for the game can be found at www.allgame.com/game.php?id=73023&tab=controls
System requirements Windows Vista/XP/7
2 GB RAM, 10 GB free hard drive space
Intel core2 duo 2.4 GHz or AMD 64 X2 4400 Processor
2006 or Later GeForce 8600 or Radeon HD 2600 video card