19
Feb
09

(Almost) Like a non-MMO Warhammer…

What? A spank the tank post? Lies! Much less a post that is only loosely related to this game?! HERESY!

Well there’s my attempt at humour. And another at self-deprecating self-referential humour. I made a funny.

I obtained Lord of the Rings: Conquest today, and my first thoughts of it were “this really reminds me of Warhammer”. It’s not like the Battlefield / Star Wars Battlefront franchises where your ‘class’ really only determined your gun. The four classes in LotR: Conquest are actually fairly similar. As it stands, the game is fairly flawed and bugged, with some things being massively overpowered (Scouts can one-shot ANYTHING). Oh and in the Capture the Ring (Flag) in Mines of Moria, there’s an invisible wall around Evil’s flag room. Yeah. Fun.

There’s two factions in the game, with differing armies depending on the map so you don’t have corrupted humans fighting at Helm’s Deep. It pretty much depends on who was where, but there’s no real difference. But one thing that pisses me off more than a level 21 Black Guard running around Tier One RvR zones is that there’s no Hobbits or Dwarves (other than Frodo and Gimli as Heroes). Having Hobbitses and Stunties in Battle For Middle-Earth 2 was one of the best features of the game! You could send them running away screaming like prepubescent Squig Herders!

Okay, so there’s four classes. Warrior; a medium-speed, heavy melee brawler with a big sword. He can cause havoc and soaks up damage to the extent that Ironbreakers would be scared. Mostly he deals with being a tank and screwing with large crowds, and such, has combos that verge on genocide. I also rarely use warriors. They’re just not my thing. Warriors are also the only basic unit that can’t be one-shotted by an arrow to the face.

Next is my personal favourite and the only class I pretty much use; the Archer. Squishy, with varying speeds, the Archer is capable of kicking ass at long range, with heavy-damage Poison Arrows, buckshot-style Multi Arrow and the explosive Fire Arrow. Give me one of these and I can kill anything. Seriously. Their awesomeness at range is mostly betrayed by their uselessness at melee, but their Kick isn’t bad for dealing with things, provided you hit them first.

Next be the Scout. Think more like “Rogue”. A stealth-based little bastard who’s dualwielding daggers, can turn almost perfectly invisible, and has crowd-harassing satchel bombs (mini gunpowder grenades). Scouts are really fast and fairly squishy. They’re more mano-e-mano based, and as such can’t do much if they’re surrounded. But wait, they can turn invisible! Like really well…oh, and they have this nifty little Backstab ability (push E when stealthed and behind someone. Even Heroes.). It one-shots anything in a way that makes Altaiir from Assassin’s Creed quake in his hay-laden pants. Actually in some levels I really feel like I’m playing Assassin’s Creed. It’s the damndest thing.

And last but not least is the Mage. They’re a utility class more than ranged bomber, but can still dispense the pain. They’re fairly squishy and sorta slow moving, too. Their most used ‘ability’ is this nasty shield that deflects projectiles. Namely arrows. You have two of these little buggers in the front and enemy archers become pretty much useless. It only blocks ranged projectiles though, so anything else (including my plate armour boot to it’s tits) can get through. The shield is freaking annoying for archers or people trying to bring down the flag carrier, but these shields also kinda give away the location of cloaked Scouts, so I’ll let it slide. Their ‘attack’ is Lightning. It’s pretty pathetic, but it can still hurt large quantitites of people. They get an AoE heal that pretty much fully restores all allies, an AoE shockwave that floors enemies, and a nasty ranged fireball that sets fire to a large amount of ground.

So it’s not bad, but it’s pretty chaotic and random, especially when you have the sheer misfortune of being up against enemies that for the most part, look like you. In Capture the Ring (Flag) the AI is solely focused on finding and killing the ring-bearer to the point that they will ignore the ARMY running backup for him. But the first thing that ran through my head was the similarity to Warhammer. If you had a fully human-player manned game, the potential for tactics and strategies is as high as a stoner on a day off work.

But this isn’t fulfilled very well, because of the myriad (bad) imbalances and flaws in the game. See, this is why I hate game patches, because they reduce the quality of release-stage gameplay. If this game was on a console, or if I didn’t have the internet, I wouldn’t be able to do Mines of Moria on Capture the Ring, ever. And it’s a really awesome map! Gah. I’ll have to patch it.

The heroes are alright, but the only real non-aesthetic feature that seperates them from the normal units is the high health and (sometimes) high damage, and a few special moves and combos. But as they’re one-shottable by Scouts, Heroes aren’t special at all. It also has the main issue of Star Wars Battlefront 2; in that only one Hero can be out at once, giving a sometimes major advantage to the side who got the Hero first. Although I still remain a major fan of Faramir, ever since Battle For Middle-Earth 2 back in ’06, my favourite hero are the Nazgul and the Witch-King of Angmar, purely because I can do the Nazgul Screech, and they’re pure win.

All in all, it’s a fun game, and seeing ‘professional’ players in a full-human game could be awesome, but if they severely restructured it they could make it a wicked tactical game where you need to use strategies. Sort of like if a scenario goes right in Warhammer.

Edit: After some serious thinking and ranting, I’ve decided that this is still a really fun worthwhile game, but is being shunted to the top of the list of “reasons a lot of modern game developers for PC games need to be killed“.

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