May 22, 2007

Game Review: Lord of the Rings Online: Shadow of Agmar

Ah multi-player online games. Big, fun and complete and total time-sucks. Where free hours go to die. The reason I haven’t been able to solve either the Health Care or immigration crisis this week is due to taking Lord of the Rings Online out for a spin. What a great way to lose yourself for a few hours (day, months, etc).
You strap on your sword/bow/staff and go walk a mile in the shoes of a Tolkienesque hero. Or a mile in your bare, furry feet if you decide to have a hobbit character.

As a game LOTRO plays just like World of Warcraft. Same controls, combat system and quest system. Of course, unlike WOW’s Tolkien-inspired setting, you have an actual Tolkien setting with LOTRO. I’ve gotten drunk at the Inn of the Prancing Pony and wandered around Bag-In. I’ve defended a farm from a giant spider attack and earned the name “Spider-Foe.” I’ve seen a Ringwrath stab a ranger with a Mogul blade. I’ve even done a quest for those nasty Sackville-Baggins folks who have inherited Bag-In now that Frodo and Bilbo have left the Shire. In other words I’ve pretty much immerse myself into Middle Earth.

The setting will draw you in, but the game has bunch of ways of keeping you playing. In addition to the standard leveling (I’ll sleep/eat/take a shower right after I hit level 20) LOTR introduces “feat” these are special tasks like using your special moves lots of times (Shield Bash! Kick to the Head!) or killing lots of a particular type of monster (44 orcs…45… 46). The reward is a special bonus or a nifty title (strangly enough “bunny-slayer” is not available) that you can impress your friends with. Anything to keep you playing. And you will keep playing. And playing. And playing.

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