The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
: arguably the greatest fantasy epic of modern times. Tolkien's novels have inspired generations of fantasy readers and enthusiasts combined. The recent success of blockbuster movies based on the series, combined with a monstrous advertising and marketing strategy, have made Gandalf, Aragorn, and Frodo Baggins almost household names. But even with all the hype and popular sentiment in its favor, not to mention the fact that this title is the only Tolkien approved title on the market, the PC version of the console game, like its predecessor, fails to be even mildly entertaining.
In the game's favor,the game adheres much more to the original book than do the recent films, with several neglected characters making an appearance in the game. Graphics are excellent, with well-textured maps, character skins, and overall aesthetics. Audio is a mixed bag, since some voice acting is better than others. I liked the Gandalf character, and a few others, but the hobbits were just plain annoying. I also like my Glamdring trading card (every box has a different card inside).
However, aside from cosmetics, the game brings little to the genre, either in gameplay or even imagination. Game play is, as expected, extremely linear, with almost no meaningful dialogue outside of the original script. There is very little interaction with the world, in that only items that flash or glow can be manipulated. While easy to maneuver and easier still in combat, action sequences seem to be few and far between, at least early on. Only three characters are controlled directly by the player: Aragorn, Frodo, and Gandalf. However, even with the obvious differences in the abilities of these characters, differences in strategy while playing each character is negligible. What it comes down to is a game devoid of the spirit that fueled the novels, with little to no replay value.
I could go on for hours on how disappointed I am in this title. Fans of the books will probably feel the same. If you're a complete Tolkienophile, or your only exposure to Lord of the Rings is through the films and console-style gaming, you might be the narrow niche that will actually enjoy this title. For the rest of you, caveat emptor.