JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings Vol. I

With so many games based on the movie adaptation of LOTR, it’s downright bizarre to play one inspired solely by the books. In a way you can have something that is more authentic, as it’s not being influenced by the epic visuals of the cinematic trilogy. This is probably why you could give J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Vol. I, the LOTR game everyone seemingly forgot about.

8With some minor creative leeway, this game covers the first volume of the story and it plays like an overhead RPG which includes party management, turn-based combat, open-ended exploration, and so on. You must find a few crucial items and bits of information to complete the game, but the bulk of the gameplay is dedicated to simply exploring the world, searching for things to do. There are plenty of houses, characters, optional locations, and other stuff to find around the game world.

Like in Pirates or Privateer, you do a lot of things in this game that doesn’t involve the main quest. In fact, you have to downright work to access the main quest line, which is a cool take from games that spoonfeed you the story in a very linear fashion. What’s more, the way you play the game shapes the story. You can choose to have Gandalf tag along with you, or you can head for Mount Doom without him and hope to recruit someone else in his place. Characters don’t gain levels or experience, but get stronger with finding better items and hiring stronger companions. Combat is also avoidable if you’re stealth inclined.

The way you can, as it were, write your own Lord of the Rings story makes this is an interesting piece of gaming. You may engage in various side quests as well or explore the Shire at your own leisure. But much more could have been done. For one thing, the amount of dialogue is very short in this game in spite of the source material it’s based upon. You can type in keywords into a text parser to communicate, but the system is just bare-boned and only key topics will trigger any genuine response.

It’s a shame too, but there’s still some fantastic things to like about this game. As far as choice and the open ended world is concerned, this RPG was years ahead of its time. In many other respects, unfortunately, it’s quite dated indeed.

System Requirements: 80486/33 MHz, 4 MB RAM, DOS

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