The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age
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|The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age|
|Developer(s)||EA Redwood Shores|
New Line Cinema
|Release date(s)||GameCube & PlayStation 2
|Distribution||2 × GameCube disc,
1 × DVD-ROM
The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age is a 2004 console role-playing game by EA Games for PlayStation 2, Xbox and Nintendo Gamecube. The player controls a core group of characters that are used during the adventure, leveling up according to experience gained from battles and quests.
The plot of The Third Age involves Berethor, a Captain of the Citadel Guard of Gondor, who is travelling to Rivendell to find Boromir, one of the nine members of the Fellowship of the Ring. On his way to Rivendell, he is attacked by a group of Ringwraiths and almost killed, but is rescued by a female elf named Idrial, who is a servant of Galadriel. There, Gandalf the Grey informs them that Boromir is travelling with him and the rest of the Fellowship, and that they are headed in the direction of Moria.
On the way to Moria, Berethor and Idrial meet up with Elegost, a Dúnedain Ranger. He informs them that he was travelling to Moria with a dwarf. After a series of events, they rescue Hadhod, the dwarf warrior in question, from a troll. Upon entering Moria, the newly formed fellowship narrowly escape with the help of Gandalf. They also help Gandalf to slay the Balrog at the Bridge of Khazad-dûm. Despite their best efforts, Gandalf still falls into shadow. Following certain events after leaving Moria, the party learns of Boromir's death, and the group is charged with helping what is left of the original film/book Fellowship to save the world of men in Middle-earth. They continue through the land of Rohan, meeting along the way Morwen, a lady of Rohan who has lost her family to Saruman's attacks, and Éoaden, a member of Théoden's Royal Guard. Berethor and company help to muster the Rohirrim, and they arrive at Helm's Deep to aid Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli to fight off the Uruk-hai as they storm the fortress.
After this they journey to Gondor and the city of Osgiliath. There they help Faramir defeat Gothmog the orc commander, as well as several Ringwraiths. It is revealed that Berethor was stabbed by a Morgul Blade (similar to Frodo on Weathertop) by the Witch-King of Angmar. They find that Berethor was tasked with finding Boromir so that Berethor could bring the One Ring to Saruman, and then to Sauron; Berethor cuts out the blade fragment, freeing himself from Sauron's control. The company then makes its way to Minas Tirith and finally help Éowyn defeat the Witch-king on the Pelennor Fields and defeat the Mumaks. After defeating the 8 remaining Nazgûl, the warriors head to Mordor, where they face off with the Eye of Sauron itself, and destroy it. There, the game ends with Gandalf telling Berethor that Middle-Earth's tales will continue.
The Third Age was met with positive to average reception upon release. GameRankings and Metacritic gave it a score of 76.31% and 74 out of 100 for the GameCube version, 72.89% and 73 out of 100 for the PlayStation 2 version, and 76.45% and 75 out of 100 for the Xbox version.
The story was not regarded as one of the game's finer points by many video game reviewers. However, the fact that the story was not more expansive or creative was due largely to the fact that the publisher and developer, EA Games, owned the rights to the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy and not the book of the same name - thus the only devices available to the creators were what could be found in the movies, or something in neither book nor movie. Thus everything had to, in some way, be tied to the movies in order to prevent a lawsuit from the owners of the rights to the book. Each of the game's main characters was based on a minor character or extra from the films.
The game's combat system was, by and large, very similar to Final Fantasy X's Conditional Turn-Based Battle System (CTB), where the players have turns in which they can attack. It also featured a 'level-up' system much akin to Final Fantasy X-2. Once again, some reviewers thought this to be derivative and unoriginal, while others welcomed a combat system like that in Square Enix's games. Either way, the game experienced good success during the holiday season of 2004. IGN awarded the game with a score of 8.5 out of 10 and GameSpot with 7.7 out of 10
Deviations from the text
The story is intended to be original and as such is not canonical. Nonetheless, there are also some minor deviations such as Helm Hammerhand having a warhammer and the use of the term "she-elf", which never appears in the books (though it is used to refer to Liv Tyler's Arwen in the films). Other errors include the pronunciation of "Dúnedain" as rhyming with "pain" — whereas it should rhyme with "dine", as Tolkien writes in one of his appendices.
Also there are spelling differences; Arnor appears as 'Anor' in some places and Eowyn in combat is spelled Sield Maiden, not Shield. Kingsfoil and athelas are suggested to be two separate plants, but in the books they are alternate names. Also, the party is present at key plot moments, so they can participate in events which in the books are solo fights, or non-fights. Examples include interactions with the Balrog, the Witch-king, and the Eye of Sauron.
In other games
Hadhod, Berethor, Idrial and Morwen reappeared in The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II (Xbox 360 and PC special edition) as homemade heroes. Berethor and Morwen are Heroes of the 'Men of the West', while Hadhod is a hero of the Dwarves and Idrial of the Elves.
Elegost and Eaoden the two other fellowship-members of The Third Age are not in the game; they can be made in the hero-builder, though the system is limited.
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