The Lord of the Rings   The Two TowersI’ve become a bit of a fan of Stormfront Studios game productions, particularly their hack and slash titles that I got introduced to in Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone. Enjoying the fairly frantic yet cinematically styled action presented by their rather impressive games engine, I went back on got my hands on their earlier titles in this genre, namely the massively successful The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

Although based on the second movie in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Two Tower actually includes quite a huge chunk of the first movie in its story as well, probably just to get everyone up to speed. Each level takes an action sequence out of the Two Towers movie and then allows you to play through it using either Aragorn the human ranger, Legolas the elven archer, or Gimli the dwarven fighter as your playable character. Some sequences, like the initial battle with the shadowy ring wraiths from The Fellowship of the Ring, are surprisingly short, but some of the later battles have you fighting off a seemingly endless horde of creatures.

The Two Towers gives you a strong set of upgradeable attacks that are all very easy to execute. Quick attacks are good to use against weaker, unshielded enemies, while you’ll need to use a fierce strike to do any real damage against stronger enemies or enemies that have shields. Chaining attacks together is the most effective means of disposing of enemies, and the game includes a large number of different combos. Chaining attacks together also fills an onscreen meter. The more enemies you concurrently strike, the higher the meter will go, which builds your character’s experience level. The more experience you earn, the more moves you can purchase to improve your character. Also, if you strike enough enemies in a row, you can increase your character’s attack strength for a short time. – The sheer number of opponents thrown at you simultaneously means you need to keep your wits about you at all time. And don’t think you can get through with just pressing hit all the time. If you are to survive the onslaught then youd better learn how to properly use the parry button as well!

The game is on the short side though and you can progress through it in a couple of sittings easily enough. However, the three playable characters means you can go back and redo levels and with the tons of extras such as interviews, sketches and production videos to unlock, there is literally a host of things to keep the hardcore fan busy with.

The game is a 2002 release, but to be honest, it is a very impressive looking PS2 game. It handles the huge amount of characters on screen slickly and without any slowdown whatsoever. The character models are all detailed and the animations are extremely realistic. Environments are beautiful and clever use of the camera creates a beautiful cinematic feel to the game. The only negative aspect is the prerendered cutscenes don’t look good at all, which is a pity when you consider how good the game looks elsewhere. The seamless integration with movie footage and game footage makes for a visual treat though.

The Two Towers features the soundtrack from the Fellowship of the Ring film as well as some tracks that were made for the film but were later cut. The music includes ominous moody melodies that instantly ramp up to full-blown orchestral tracks, taken straight from the action sequences in the film. The sound effects are nearly perfect and fit the action well. The actors from the film voice the game’s dialogue, and it all sounds fantastic.

So to sum it up, if you like hack and slash games, pick this title up – you should be able to grab it for a good price considering its age. It is easy to get into, but very difficult to master which makes it quite challenging to the hardcore gamer. Be warned about the short length though.