Well to start with, this blog post started out as a result of a totally unproductive and boring Monday after noon. I was not in a mood to work or do anything at all when I realized that I hadn't played any games for the past few months. I was so caught up with up my work and other stuff that I had forgotten the one thing that got me into game designing. Well actually not forgotten, but rather putting it off for some other time in the future when I would have more free time. I used to check my Steam library occasionally and see all the games that I never played, but then I would close Steam and go on to do something else. So today I thought I'll play one of the games that I bought during the last year's sales. But unlike before, I had no intention to finish the game as I used to do back in college. I just wanted to experience that joy of going into some other world, just as we do when we read an interesting book. There were a lot of games in the library, but I just decided to try whatever came to my mind first. There was no worry about thinking about the time it would take to finish the game. I just wanted to play for a couple of hours.. enjoy it the way I used to do when I was a kid. There was no pressure this time around. And then I saw Lego Lord of the Rings, clicked on it and waited for it to load. As the name suggests, pretty much anything that's important in this game is made up of Lego blocks. [Spoilers ahead if you haven't seen LOTR]
The intro videos kicked in and then I reached the start menu. The Lord of the Rings theme music kicked in and I somehow felt at home. As usual, I checked my graphics settings first and then put everything to maximum. Back to main menu and I was about to start a new game and I noticed the animated background behind the main menu buttons. It portrayed the Shire in all it's beauty.. green rolling hills, a lazy hobbit sleeping under a tree, Gandalf visiting the village in his cart loaded full of crackers and all sorts of magical goodies, a few other hobbits doing their farming and gardening work.. I'm pretty sure I even saw a pig trying to catch fish with a fishing rod. Already the start menu was starting to put me into a good mood. I was impressed by the amount of work and care, the developer Traveller's Tales games had put into it. It's something that I don't see people put much effort into.. not just in the games industry, but other softwares as well. Most of the games/apps have start screens that are pretty blank.. they're kind of uninteresting, but I realized today that they have a lot of power. They can pull the user into your game even before the game begins. After enjoying it, I started a new game. Just as in the movies, there was a brief intro given about the forging of the great rings and battle between the Last Alliance and Sauron's army on the fields on Dagorlad. Tt games made a good decision by taking the original dialogues and voice casting from the movies. I'm pretty sure that anyone who has heard Lady Galadriel deliver the intro at the beginning of the Fellowship of the Ring movie will feel right at home while watching this intro scene. Ofcourse, this being a LEGO game, there is an air of lightness and humor even while depicting some of the darker scenes from the movies. Watch this video and you'll get a feel of what I'm talking about.
After the intro video, I dived right into the game playing as Elrond, Elendil and Isildur. You can switch between these characters on the move and they each have some ability that makes them unique. For example, Elendil has the sword of Narsil, which is really powerful. It can break a lot of stuff, and in this game, you break a lot of stuff. This level basically familiarizes you with control system for the characters and environment interaction. The controls are very straight forward, and you can get into the action within the first couple of minutes. One thing you notice fairly early on, is that anyone you kill or anything you break gives you gold and silver coins. No wonder Sauron wants to conquer this world. I fought my way through hordes of orcs, taking the coins along the way until the dark lord Sauron noticed that his men, or rather orcs were getting butchered by elves in shining armor. So he comes ahead, with his big mace, swings it around a few times, and off goes a small chunk of my army. My characters rush in to stop this madness which initiates a boss battle with Sauron. I defeat him, playing as Elendil and then the cut scenes follow. Sauron swings the mace again, Elendil dies, Isildur mourns, Narsil breaks, Sauron tries to force choke Isildur even though he is not force sensitive, Isildur cuts his ring finger with the broken Narsil, Sauron's physical body destructs, throwing his gigantic helmet onto a random orc who also dies.
Elendil and Isildur rush in to destroy the ring by casting it back into the fiery chasm from whence it came. But men are easily deceived and Isildur decides to keep the ring. Orcs ambush him, he falls into a nearby river along with the ring, and as Lady Galadriel would say, somethings that should not have been forgotten were lost.
I'll have a post about the next half of my play-through in another post. I do not like writing long blog posts since I myself will have to read the whole thing few more times while editing it. :P Coming up in the follow-through post, the hobbits go berserk in the Shire. Until then, goodbye.