May 18, 2001
Sierra, Lord of the Rings, and the License
Before I get started, I'd like to thank the guys at Vivendi Universal Interactive, Sierra, and The Whole Experience for allowing me to get a sneak peak of their up and coming game based on the The Fellowship of the Ring. It was a pleasure to meet with them and talk about their plans for this game and the franchise.
I start this review with a bit a fear and trembling. There is no way to avoid the fact that some of you will be very bitter about these games. That is unavoidable. But for those of you who might get upset please keep an open mind. Also, please be aware that I am being very up front and honest in my review of what I saw. No one is trying to pull the wool over your eyes or trick you with marketing mumbo jumbo.
The last thing that I would have you remember is that the version of the game that I saw might not even be called an alpha Version. Only two of the 8 levels were playable, and these levels were no where near complete. Also keep in mind that a lot can and does change in the development of a game and we are a long way away from release. All the guys at E3 would say is that they are shooting for a 2002 release date, but nothing is set in stone. They didn't even want to give me that date.
After getting in touch with my contact at E3 I was ushered past groups of people to a small conference room. The door was opened and there was no room inside. It seemed as if 10 people, A table, a box of posters, an XBox development system, and a rather large HDTV had been packed in a rather small room. I somehow managed to squeeze my body into the rear of the room and turned my attention to the screen.
A rather small humanoid was on the screen in front of me he had a sword drawn and a cape flowed behind him. A squirrel scurried across his path and the leaves were falling from the trees. ( A nice touch as this was the Old Forest and it was approaching fall when the Hobbits walked through it in the book, If I remember it right.)
The forest was a lush green with bushes and trees of all sort, large Stones blocked the passage at certain points. The animation was good and the feel felt right. Soon off in the distance I noticed two creatures approaching. The person demonstrating the game said that in order to bring magic to Frodo, they had to implement a rune system of magic which would activate on Frodo's sword. Frodo activated his fire rune and Sting started to leave a fire trail when he swung it.
As Frodo approached the two creatures, it became apparent that they were badgers. Frodo quickly dispatched the giant badgers, but not before having his rune magic ran out.
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