Concerning the Return of the King Video Game

By: Vaniwen

Well, being the gamer that I am, and also a rabid fan of LotR, of course I would jump at the chance to own the Return of the King video game. So I preordered it for the Game Cube, which is the platform that I have. I get it the afternoon that it comes out, as soon after school as possible. I also get the players guide. I flip through it, and there’s some pictures of the characters there. I say, wow, neat pictures of the actors. It takes me a few minutes to realize that these were computer generated characters from the game! They were so real! So the second I get home, I do my homework in hyper-speed. Then… Return of the King!

I convince my little sister to let me use the TV (she’s watching Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets), pop in the disk and turn on the Game Cube. The starting advertisements play… the suspense is killing me! Finally, an introduction begins, and I begin as Gandalf in Helm’s Deep! The gameplay is nearly identical to that of Two Towers, except that the Jump Back button has been changed, in favor of the ever-cool Action Button, which lets me interact with my environment in ever cool ways!

I gasp at the graphics- this has to be some sort of film clip, reacting to the buttons. But Lo! It is CG! I (as Gandalf) make my way along the Wall, and come to a sort of Orkish grappling hook. A revolving circle of purple elvish script tells me I can use the action button on it. I do and- Sweet! Gandalf used it to swing down from the wall to where Aragorn and Gimli are fighting to keep the uruk-hai away from the doors. I help them out, and discover another new use for the action button- pikes! There are war pikes stuck in the ground. I pick one up and throw it- spearing an uruk-hai!

Next on the list of revelations are ballistae! Ballistae, the players guide tells me, are giant crossbows- and they sure are giant! To hold one like a regular crossbow would take at least five cave trolls. I cut the string of one and send it flying at the attackers- BOOM! I laugh out loud. Destruction is fun! After setting off a few of them, the battle ends, and I am taken into a summary of FotR and TTT, told by Gandfalf. I later learn that Gandalf serves as the narrator for the ‘prologue’ and ‘epilogue’ for all the levels. I miss most of it, as my mother calls me over to do some chore. I complain, but do it. I end up missing more then half of it.

So, now I have three different paths that I can play. I can choose to play The Path of the Wizard, as Gandalf helps the Ents and Minas Tirith battles. Or I can play The Path of the King, as Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli go to the Paths of the dead and Minas Tirith/Pelennor fields and the Black Gates. Or the Path of the Hobbits, which follows Frodo and Sam Escaping from Osgiliath, in Shelob’s Lair, in Cirith Ungol, and even fighting Gollum in The Crack of Doom!

Well, I played as Legolas exclusively for Path of the king. Legolas and I used our talents to beat the Dead Army, beat the King of the Dead, Trolls and Mûmakil, Fell beasts, Ringwraiths, Champions (like mini-bosses) of all kinds, Haradrim, Easterlings, And, of course, Orcs, Saruman’s Uruk-hai and Mordor Uruk-hai. All to give Frodo a chance!

For the path of the Wizard, I played as Gandalf, We beat, Fell beasts, Trolls, Orks, Uruk-hai, ran away from rampaging Ents, Fell beasts, Trolls with seige towers, rampaging trolls, and lots of champions.

And finally, the Path of the Hobbits. You play as Sam. We hid from Ringwraiths on Fell beasts (through a battle) while escaping Osgiliath (Gollum as our guide), Shelob’s foul spawn, Shelob herself (I had to resort to changing the difficulty of the game for her- she was HARD!) Orcs and the like in Cirith Ungol, and of course, Gollum/Smeagól in the Crack of Doom (Where you play as Frodo instead of Sam)

I spent all my free time playing that game! I played it after school. I’d play it before school. I wished I could play it during school. I got up TWO HOURS early to play it before school. Finally, on the morning of the sixth, I beat Gollum! Woo! Gandalf gave a nice Epilogue to the series (explaining a few things that I would’ve never thought of, even after reading all the books, like part of the use of Anor) It took me three days, but I beat it!

And… I unlocked the secrets! I got some secret codes, to make really hard levels a lot easier, unlocked secret characters, interviews, and a secret level!

The interviews were by Andy Serkis, Dom Monaghan, Billy Boyd, and David Wenham (Faramir). The last three of which all congratulated me on beating the game. I felt so special! I unlocked Pippin, Merry, and Faramir to play in the levels, as well as the other ones to play in any level, not just the ones on their path. (Legolas to the Crack of Doom, for example). And the interviews were really funny. They were all promoting their character. Billy said to take Pippin to Paths of the Dead, so I did. It was really funny, this little hobbit battling about 8 of these dead soldiers (who are tall and glow blue).

The other interviews, that I unlocked before, were also funny. Everyone was saying ‘I think you should play my character’ and saying how theirs was the best. I kept cracking up. My favorite is probably the one called ‘Hobbits on Gaming’ and is kind of like a discussion between Elijah, Billy, and Dom. They were saying who was the better player. All agreed that Elijah was the best. Billy and Dom both thought that they were better, but from what I’ve seen, Dom is better then Billy. But the whole thing was hilarious. Some of the other unlockable interviews were with Sean Astin, Christopher Lee, and Ian McKellen

The Secret level? It’s called The Palantír of Sauron. If you’ve played the TTT game, think ‘Tower of Orthanc’ with blue fog on the bottom and a lot harder. The secret codes saved my life.

And the bad things? The clips had next to nothing that I haven’t seen before, online or otherwise. Orlando Bloom didn’t do voice acting like all the other characters. It sounds nothing like him. And that the Game’s not long enough. But… There’s still a Co-Op play, where you play the level with a friend to help. And getting to level 10 with all the characters! Now, off to pester someone into playing it with me!

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