Review: The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age

What other video game genre can translate Tolkien's majestic world of myths and magic better than a roleplaying game. It's like a perfect wedding, a great opportunity to explore this immense sage, maybe even surpassing the already classic movie trilogy. And with mega concern EA on board, the sky is the limit.



The story begins with Berethor, a knight and the main character of the game. He has been given the task to find Boromir and it won't be long before the trail takes him to the path of the legendary fellowship of Frodo. Berethor will get support on his journey by a she-elf, a ranger and slowly a second fellowship is formed. You could say this second fellowship are the eyes in the back of Frodo's ensemble, always a couple of steps behind but following their trail, and their story.

Besides the select companions you will also aid other people throughout the game. This includes Arargorn, Legolas and Gandalf, stars of the movie. Frodo and the other Hobbits have been left out of this game; they had no practical use in the story.

While making your way through Middle Earth you will be treated with lots of small scenes (109 in total!), directly cut out of the movies. These movies are narrated to inform you of your next objective or give you some insight on the area you will visit next, always intertwined with the legendary fellowship of the ring.


The movies are a little muddy and dark, but the in game visuals are nothing but spectacular, huge detailed worlds with plenty of textures, creating an atmosphere that does justice to Middle Earth. Same goes for the characters; the movements, spells, actions, all are unique, fluent and convincible. The accompanying THX certified audio adds up nicely to the already impressive visual world Redwood created.


Third Age uses a familiar turn based battle system much like Final Fantasy and other Japanese equivalents. Unfortunately they have done little to nothing to modify it and make their own version of it. This wouldn't be such a problem, if they could make the game more interesting with side quests that could offer some variation in gameplay. But there are hardly any, it's a 30-something hour journey of making your way through Middle Earth and fighting random battles.

Redwood did come up with quests to keep things interesting while traveling; the problem is that most of these quests aren't particularly difficult. No jaw breaking puzzles that have to be solved or getting through complex mazes, it's usually defeating a couple of foes or find some person or object that, by just following the already linear path, will come along your way automatically. A little more challenge in these quests and it might just improve the gameplay, but they are just too easy and unimaginative.



The heart of the game lies in the skills, these can be learned by using special attacks. There are quite a few of these abilities to learn, and range from stat boosting skills to a 5x multiple attack. Executing a special attack successfully will earn you a skill point and when you earned enough skill points you will learn a new skill. Also each special skill attack costs a certain amount of action points; these action points represent the magical abilities of one character.


Every character has several types of skills, such as passive skills that can only be acquired by levelling up. Others can be learned if you equip special Elf stones. There is some freedom in the choice of order which skills you want to learn, but in general it follows a straight path.

There are also perfect mode skills, which are similar to summoning Aeons in Final Fantasy X. A special meter will gradually increase when fighting battles. When it's full any party member can unleash powerful creatures such as the mighty Ents tree.

Evil mode:

While playing you can unlock a couple of things. One of the more interesting features is the evil mode, where you can fight battles as the bad guy, the same creatures you fought against while being the hero. Playing as an orc can be fun for a while but this doesn't mean you can play a complete new and different story. You can only fight the battles against the fellowship at different locations, all which will be unlocked throughout the 'hero' journey.


The idea behind evil mode is that you can earn exclusive items and equipment for your (hero) party. So when a new evil mode location is unlocked in 'hero' mode, you can save that 'hero' game, quit the story, select evil mode, fight the battles against the heroes, earn new items, save them to your hero story game file and resume that game with your new equipment. This way your fellowship can fight battles with the unique Goblin armor or Orc sable equipped.

Final Say:

The 'why fix it if it ain't broke'-method works to some agree in Third Age, the gameplay is solid with very few flaws. Redwood created a magnificent detailed Middle Earth, and fans of LOTR will be pleased because of that. Yet for those who regularly play RPG's the game offers nothing you have seen before, it suffers from repetitiveness and a more than mild difficulty level.

N-Europe Final Verdict

A solid RPG but nowhere near it's potential.

  • Gameplay4
  • Playability4
  • Visuals5
  • Audio5
  • Lifespan3
Final Score






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