The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age
There’s really something magical about JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings series that lends itself so well to the realm of video games. We’ve had so many fantastic experiences within Middle-Earth, ranging from the movie tie-ins on the PlayStation 2, to the Battlefront-like Conquest that came out in the seventh console generation – I've yet to play a Lord of the Rings game that I haven't at least somewhat enjoyed. Was that to change with The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age on the Gameboy Advance?
One does not simply walk into Mordor
Like it’s console counterpart, The Third Age GBA consists of a variety of turn-based battles, though they still play quite differently. Whilst the console version’s combat was somewhat reminiscent of Square’s Final Fantasy series, the handheld version was much closer to the likes of X-COM, UFO, and perhaps more pertinently, The Lord of the Rings Tactics, which would release for the PSP a few years later.
Roll the dice
While most turn-based tactics games allow you to move your entire team each turn, The Third Age takes a different approach. At the beginning of each turn, your number of moves will be determined by a dice roll. You will then be able to move one unit per number on the dice. The enemy has to do this too, and it can really stitch you up. It makes The Third Age feel much more like a board game or tabletop RPG, and it’s a really interesting design decision, but can make the game feel more luck-based than dependent on skill.
Holding out for a hero
The presence of iconic characters really made the movies in the LOTR universe stand out. Following the stories of such timeless heroes as Aragorn, Sam and Gandalf made the movies relate to the Ranger, Hobbit and Wizard in all of us, and those characters are all present here in The Third Age. You’ll use a hero as your commanding officer, and then pad out your squad with generic grunts and units. The Third Age allows for large-scale battles akin to those in Heroscape, and you’ll have a blast laying out attack strategies for your team.
One ring to rule them all
The Third Age is not just another game where you play as the good guys and do noble things. You can play as Sauron’s army too. Having a team full of Uruk-hai is a great feeling. Having the Witch King of Angmar as your commanding officer is much more satisfying. I’m not one to avoid the dark side, so I always appreciate the option to be evil in video games.
The Third Age GBA is an interesting take on the turn-based tactics genre, and its digitized character models make it stand out among the competition. It’s a game with a lot going for it, and a must-play for fans of the source material’s other efforts into the turn-based strategy world, namely LOTR Tactics for PSP and LOTR RPG for Mobile (Java). It’s not perfect, but its solid enough to warrant a playthrough.
- Digitized character models.
- Unique spin on the turn-based tactics genre.
- You can play as the Witch King of Angmar.
- Dice-roll system makes the game quite luck-based.
Download The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP