(EA for Xbox 360)
By Mike Delano
It was heartening to hear the head honcho of EA say last year that a couple of the company’s in-development games would likely get canceled annually because of quality control. That philosophy makes it hard to understand how Lord of the Rings: Conquest made the cut. Sure, any game with this license is an excuse to print money, but a brand name like this deserves something a little grander. You’re plunked on to the battlefields of the major skirmishes from the films and switch between four character classes (Warrior, Mage, Archer and Scout) to complete objectives like “defend this position” and “capture this position.” It’s mildly entertaining for fans of the franchise in a weekend-rental kind of way, but like Pandemic’s last offering, Mercenaries 2, it lacks considerable polish. There’s hardly any context for the battles, and as a straight-up action game, the gameplay is far too one note: Think a hack-and-slasher like Dynasty Warriors, not God of War or Ratchet and Clank. Add in some herky-jerky character animations and wonky targeting and you’ve got a game that suffers from something far worse than a lack of polish, it’s done in by a lack of ambition.