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  The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Overview
The Dark Lord has arisen. A fellowship is formed. Now the future of Middle-Earth lies in your hands. Play as Frodo, Gandalf, and Aragorn as you overcome the perilous obstacles and battle the forces of evil. In your journey from the Shire to the River Anduin, you will explore beautifully detailed environments and meet many characters brought to life as described in the book. Prepare to play the greatest story ever written… from the beginning!

Gameplay
After the success of the blockbuster film of the same name last Christmas, it was indeed a surprise and relief, to find that the game was based directly on Tolkien’s first book in The Lord of the Ring series rather than the movie. The Fellowship of the Ring is a third-person adventure game. You are able to play the role of three of the fellowship’s members at various times throughout the game, dictated by storyline. You are able to play as Frodo – a kindly hobbit, Aragorn - a solemn ranger, and Gandalf – an elderly but powerful wizard. Each of the heroes has the same basic moves, like attacking with a sword or walking stick, jumping, and using common inventory items. All three characters have unique gameplay aspects, as well. Frodo can sneak past enemies; Aragorn has a bow with multiple types of arrows; and Gandalf has command of a range of magic spells. Each hero also has access to a few character-specific items, such as Frodo's ability to use the One Ring to become invisible.

The game starts out with you as the character of Frodo and you are faced with a variety of simplistic errand-boy missions. Honestly, when I first started playing, I almost wanted to turn it off… it was pretty boring continually being sent on effortless fetch-quests that must be carried out before you can move on to other parts of the game. But eventually, you are able to play as both Aragorn and Gandalf (my favorite), and I got more and more into the game. Having said that however, the games pace did seem inconsistent, merely alternating between either just walking around, trying to collect items and getting from one point to another, and being attacked by enemies in a fight engine that seemed rather clumsy, allowing enemies who get in cheap hits and unfairly block your own attacks. The best part of the game’s combat was that you were occasionally able to play as Gandalf and wield his magic. Unfortunately, you play more as Frodo and Aragorn than Gandalf and are left strictly using melee attacks.

The Fellowship of the Ring is a good-looking game. Many of the environments explorable and detailed – the outdoor areas are composed of lush grassy, rolling hills, and the subterranean mines of Moria, which your party will eventually explore, feature impressive architecture in its huge underground hallways, all helping to immerse you into the land of Middle Earth. The game also does a decent job with its character models, each of which bear a slight resemblance to the characters in the movie.


Summary
Unless you are a highly critical, hardcore Tolkien fan, you probably won't criticize The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring for its production values. Conversely, if you are a seasoned console gamer, you probably will find this game average at best, and at times frustrating and boring. Furthermore, good gamers will probably be able to finish this game in less than 15 hours… making it more of a weekend rental than a purchase to keep.

Review ID Number: 462
  Product Details
WPX
Review Date: 2002-11-25
Reviewer: Shawn Sardy
Rating: 7 out of 10
 
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