The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

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“Poh-tay-toes?!”

 

 

ragemage Rage Mage Reviews!

This is what Tolkien would have wanted: a cheap button-mashing adaptation of a cheap cash-cow for his epic fantasy magnum opus. This is the “Legolas-sliding-down-a-stairway-on-a-shield” of video games.

J. R. R.’s probably rolling in his Catholic urn.

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You can just throw away all your dog-eared copies of The Silmarillion or burn your Alan Lee illustrated edition of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, because this hack n’ slash game has all of the immediately accessible, character-less, systematized violence any prepubescent male with inferiority psychoses could wish for. All you Tolkien-purist #basementdwellers shall not pass!

This is just a hyper-condensed version of Peter Jackson’s trilogy, which is itself a hyper-condensed version of some of the greatest books you lied about and said you read to impress your friends.

Yes, the “director” of such classics as Meet the Feebles and Dead Alive, the same director who put these words in Gimli’s mouth: “It’s the dwarves that go swimming with little hairy women!”, is the director whose vision of a washed-out, CGI New Zealand/Middle-Earth served as the basis for this game.

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The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers: the Game… or TLOTRTTTTG… was published by none other than EA Games. That ought to be a tip off right there. The company who crapped out Star Wars Battlefront in 2015 did the same thing with the Star Wars of fantasy film movie-games back in 2002.

Ironically, was Tolkien’s make-believe word for the entire world including Middle-Earth. Am I saying EA Games stole from Tolkien to come up with the name for their company? Purse those lips.

That Red Mage said he spent a whole day driving around for miles looking for this game when it came out. Joke was on him when he got home with it. What a sack of used tissues!

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This literary manslaughter was released across a wide range of platforms: the PlayStation 2 (which I played) and Xbox, Game Boy Advance, GameCube and almost Microsoft Windows.

The game is determined to borrow from the popularity of the movies, opening with the exact same prologue sequence from The Fellowship of the Ring, complete with Cate Blanchett’s husky English accent as Galadriel. The game then plays its practical joke on you: “Haha! This isn’t the movie!” It transitions from the crisp cinema clip to something else. The sinking horror in your stomach is telling you that the bland graphics and phoned-in voice acting is going to be the actual gameplay. If that bothers you, it’s ok. The transition from movie to game will happen over and over again.

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You’re then thrust into the shoes of everybody’s favorite sell-out, Isildur. Button-mash your way through hordes and hordes of Mordor orcs and enjoy the “combos” while you can, because the rest of the game is like this. In fact, it’s the exact same thing, just with Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli.

Each stage progresses through the storyline of The Two Towers. They skipped over most of the rest of The Fellowship of the Ring because who needs character development or exposition when you’ve got a bae like Orlando Bloom?

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*swoons while on fire*

Anyway, you’ll mash your way through Moria, Amon Hen, Fangorn Forest, Isengard, Rohan, and finally Helm’s Deep. All the big set pieces are here. Except for the fight with Shelob. Clearly Tolkien was an idiot for including that at the end of Two Towers. It belongs in Return of the King, which was nowhere near bloated enough. Jackson had it right…

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Thankfully Two Towers is short. Like “I can’t believe I paid $40 for this!” short. Because you know what? EA took a steaming pile on this game. They didn’t care about any of the source material… except for maybe Old Toby. They might’ve had a lot of Old Toby when making this game. S’why it’s called high fantasy. And that was my obligatory Lord of the Rings pipe-weed joke.

 

 

The 8-bit Review
visual Visuals: 3/10
Yikes. The shot for shot cutscenes were animated by someone who should be shot. The characters look like stress-toys and blow up dolls with their bug-eyed stares and high cheekbones. Gimli’s mouth looks like an orifice. Just look at it. They had to cut corners somewhere to ensure this game could come out in time to capitalize on the movie trilogy’s success. Considering most of the beautiful sense of elegant history and culture is gone, they must’ve cut every corner.

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“And my *axe-zema.”

audio Audio: 6/10
I’m almost tempted to say something pretentious about Howard Shore’s score for The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Like it’s iconic or something like that. This video game adaptation takes Shore’s score and chops it into little pieces which fade audibly in and out depending on the flow of the action. But that’s not the worst thing about the game’s audio. It’s the voice acting. Viggo Mortensen is not a voice actor. He might not even be a conscious human being, at least it doesn’t sound like he was awake during these recording sessions. Either that or they had him recite all his lines through a wet napkin. Will somebody tell that man to clear his throat?! What a klazomaniac.

Treat yourself, you pungent narcissist, and just listen to Howard Shore’s soundtrack for the movie, instead:

gameplay Gameplay: 5/10
Why was there no co-op? I mean, there are a lot of levels where a playable character just follows you around, doing nothing. It forced the brother I didn’t love to sit there and watch me play through the whole game by myself, further solidifying my sense of personal isolation.

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Two Towers functions as a kind of action-RPG. At the end of each stage your total points are tallied up based on a mission rating and how well you did at orc-genocide. You can then use these “upgrade points” (NOT experience points) to purchase upgrades and additional attack combos on different unlockable tiers.

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In-game, if you can finish off a series of enemies with powerful finishing moves you’ll fill up a special bar that makes your sword glow like a lightsaber. The bar fills up faster with “Excellent” and “Perfect” kills rather than with just “Good” or “Fair” ones. A murder is a murder if you ask me, but I’m not picking nits. Once the bar is full and the lightsaber is lighted, your attack power frickin’ quintuples and you gain extra experience upgrade points.

story Narrative: 7/10
The Two Towers game might be the “For Dummies” version of the “CliffsNotes” movie trilogy, but despite everything it could do to quench Tolkien’s original story under tons of uninspired graphics, constipated voice work, puerile gameplay, and inebriated design… the story is still there. Alright, I’ll admit I still got a some chills on what skin I have left during the battle for Helm’s Deep.

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diff Challenge: 3/10
If you have the powers of pressing small plastic buttons rapidly, then you’ll do just fine. Might be hard for quadriplegics or snakes, but if you have working digits then you can sit back and set this game on auto-pilot.

replay Replayability: 6/10
Three playable characters for each stage and more after you beat the game, there’s above average replay value for a second playthrough, but you’ll never forgive yourself.

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unique Uniqueness: 1/10
A game based on a movie based on a book based on Arthurian/Beowulfian/Nordic/Anglo-Saxon legends. Yeah. Not very unique. Besides, the three amigos who serve as your playable characters might as well be nameless: the butt-chin one, the fat n’ hairy one, and the bishie one. You’ve seen all of their action moves before in those cheesy kung fu movies you binge watched when you were single and oh-so lonely.

pgrade My Personal Grade: 3/10
This could’ve been a fun little beat ’em up multiplayer. Instead it’s a forgettable, unpolished hack n’ slash starring vaguely Lord of the Rings-ish characters. Well… at least it’s not Disney’s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe: The Game. Or DTCONTLTWATWTG.

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Push square for help and the game dials a suicide hotline: “Hello, you must be playing The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers: The Game. My name is Bambi, how can I take your order?”

Aggregated Score: 4.3

 

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26 thoughts on “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)

  1. Ahhh a song from the soundtrack just came on my phone! I wasn’t going to comment, but then that happened, and I had to be informative. I never played this one, but I did watch my friend play another LOTR game where you didn’t even play anyone from the Fellowship. Rather you were adventurers following behind them or something. Very weird.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ooh which song? The Rohan theme used to give me chills. Funny story about the soundtrack: I listened to it on the way to the hospital when I was 17 to have one of my kidneys removed. Now I always associate the way the Two Towers sounds with terrifying medical procedures. And the game you’re thinking of is The Third Age. More like the Turd Age… Heh… I think the Rage Mage will eventually have something to say about that one.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It was In Dreams! I think that’s played during the credits. It’s quite haunting with its child’s choir. I’ll have to relisten to the Rohan Theme. My absolute favorite song on all the soundtracks is The Passing of the Elves. It wasn’t on the original release, and since this was back in the early 00s (my college days), it was harder to find things like that. So happy when I finally did.

        Eep, that sucks you have that association.

        Bahahaha, I can’t wait to read that review. It’s so hard to get a good video game out of a movie and vice versa. I think the former is much easier to accomplish.

        Liked by 1 person

    • The Rage Mage was right. I did drive around for an entire Saturday looking for this game and I did shell out full price for it, then came home and beat it in like 3 hours… It was fun while it lasted and I’d consider it average or above average, but I liked the Return of the King sequel better, methinks.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Return of the King was okay too. I think it was better because the source film was also better, but I don’t remember completely. I’ve also played another LOTR game that wasn’t based on a movie. I believe it was called The Third Age, and it borrowed the Conditional Time Battle system from Final Fantasy X, which made it bearable for me.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Oh man… The Third Age. My copy always froze on the Minas Tirith stage but what a cheeseball game. I felt cheated that I was stuck with a discount Fellowship following the real one. It was a cheap knock-off RPG, to my memory.

          Liked by 1 person

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