Before I talk about Lord of the Rings: Gollum, I need to approach this tactfully, as not many people are aware; there are certain truths when; it comes to reviewing a game. The first is typical; larger media groups such as IGN, Kotaku, and Gamespot get copies first. Some outlets even get paid, others like ourselves typically are approached and given a copy to review, or we request a copy of a game to review, and then lastly, others go out and buy a game to review. Now, typically game studios allocate enough keys solely to larger; influences and organizations, and when it comes to big game titles such as Lord of the Rings: Gollum, smaller outlets such as ourselves; are typically left out in the cold.
But, due to Gollum’s poor reception even from larger media groups and influencers, our request to review Lord of the Rings: Gollum; was approved! So to quote Loki from Thor: The Dark World, you must be truly desperate to come to us.
Now with that; being said, I am here to offer my very brutally honest game review!
In short and truthfully, it is not a bad game; Lord of the Rings: Gollum is just a misunderstood title. It has its merits and problems, as every game does, and I will explain in detail, but I will say it relies heavily on the Lord of the Rings branding to even stand out against other games.
A bit of backstory, there was a Hobbit named Smeagol, who ended up killing his friend and taking the ring his friend found. The ring was the ONE RING TO RULE THEM ALL, and due to its dark powers, it drove Smeagol mad until he became known as Gollum. Gollum is the character we are playing as. And this story takes place after Bilbo Baggin’s adventure in The Unexpected Journey and just before The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Now you know the time, the place, the when, and the where.
Now, there is an issue; with pre-established media, and that is the canon. Because we know Gollum is in Lord of the Rings, and he dies at the end of the third film, we now know going into Lord of the Rings: Gollum that no matter what the dialog options present or where the story goes, the ending and ultimate outcome have; already been decided. Lord of the Rings: Gollum, in essence, fleshes out Gollum more than the movies have.
The game begins in a prison cell with Gandalf the Grey listening to Gollum/Smeagol recounts the story of when he was; captured by Orcs and held as a slave deep in Mordor; this information is what he later shares with Frodo Baggins and Samwise in the Lord of the Rings to guide the two hobbits through Mordor, which remained an unexplained narrative in the movies, it also explains how he knew about the giant spider Shelob which paralyzed Frodo.
The story for Lord of the Rings: Gollum is sadly lacking; however, it does tie up a lot; of loose ends that; were never explained, and it does so in a way that is straightforward. If; you are a fan of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, then you will most assuredly be happy, at least from a narrative perspective.
Where Lord of the Rings: Gollum fails is in its gameplay. If; you are familiar with Metal Gear Solid, then you are familiar with the Stealth-Action genre of games. Lord of the Rings: Gollum solely has mechanical gameplay options, which is throwing rocks and eating grubs; the entirety of the rest of the gameplay is staying hidden, crawling around, ledge grabbing, wall jumping, and jumping. In short, you are basically playing Tomb Raider minus all the combat options. Lord of the Rings: Gollum is HEAVILY a stealth title.
The problem, however, is that the developer did not iron out the movement mechanics; because of this Gollum’s movement and jumps are very rigid, and it leaves Gollum running around exposed, grabbing onto ledges while trying to avoid Orcs in a noisy fashion, which makes it feel more like a Crash Bandicoot title, as you struggle to predict how far your jump will take you and if the Orc.
Lord of the Rings: Gollum does offer some degree of replayability in the forms its collectibles which; are scattered across the various areas that you; can find while you are playing through each chapter of the game. However, this is also tedious as when; it comes to replaying older stages to find collectibles; the game does offer a chapter selection, but there are numerous sub-sections in which you will have to replay the entirety of the chapter to get back to where you want to be, and it is time-consuming.
When it comes to the dialog of Lord of the Rings: Gollum, it is poorly; written, and even though it sounds contradictory to my aforementioned; statement, I assure you it is not; because they establish the aforementioned location of Mordor to explain how and why Gollum was there, but the devil is in the details, and the details are lacking. But when it comes to fleshing out the antagonists, side characters, and supporting characters, their backgrounds; are all but non-existent for the sake of simplicity.
Then when it comes down to narrative choices that you are presented with, as Smeagol argues with his inner demon Gollum you realize that whatever choices; or options you pick have no impact on the story of the game; because we know the conclusion; of the story already; if you have seen the films or read the books.
Lord of the Rings: Gollum; presents you with the illusion of choice by placing two paths; in front of you. One is called Gollum, and the other path is named Smeagol. The ending of Lord of the Rings: Gollum is where that path leads that you have chosen. But because the Lord of the Rings is pre-established media, we already know how the game will play out.
Ultimately, Lord of the Rings: Gollum has numerous flaws, and it goes without saying that it heavily relies on The Lord of the Rings branding to carry it in sales. If; you are a fan of Lord of the Rings, you may enjoy the linearity of the story-driven experience, which could, for some. Overshadow the lackluster gameplay because it elaborates further on the story of Smeagol and his struggles with Gollum.
Outside of that, it does not have much going for it. If the developers managed to work out the movement mechanics, Lord of the Rings: Gollum may even become more enjoyable. Lord of the Rings: Gollum is not a buggy game per se; it is just not developed enough to function as intended.
Lord of the Rings: Gollum plays and runs fine, the background music is alright, and the sound effects are spot on. It controls poorly, and I hate to say it also, but the voice acting is lackluster. And even the animations feel like a cop-out, as they paid little attention to detail when working on the animations; my favorite incident of this is at the very start of Lord of the Rings: Gollum when the splash animations; are intended for the ground, but they placed them on vertical objects, and visually it does not make any sense. But I’m nitpicking with that example; most people won’t even; notice details like that.
In conclusion, it is not a bad game. It is just a misunderstood game, Lord of the Rings: Gollum; is best represented as an unstable mess, much like the character Gollum.
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