So as I mentioned last post, I went and downloaded the LOTRO 14 day trial. The first day of the trial was pretty much wasted, because downloading 6 GB in one sitting tends to take a long time, so I ended up just going to bed before it was even done. The next day after work, I managed to get on it and check things out. Overall, I’m pleased with the game in some aspects, but in other aspects, it’s a re-hash of the same shit I’ve seen in all the other MMOs I’ve tried. I guess the tried and true aspects of the game are what make it somewhat appealing, but there really doesn’t seem to be any new concepts introduced. I suppose though, that I haven’t played far enough along to really know, that’s why this is a first impression post and not a review. From here I’m going to break things down the way I’ve seen them, and give a little side by side comparison with other MMOs I’ve played.
This is one of my first complaints with the game. I realize that in the books and movies, they really only concentrate on Dwarves, Men, Hobbits, and Elves. But it seems to me that in a fantasy world they still could have added more races… there really isn’t much to choose from. And the fact that each race is limited in what classes they can be kind of hinders the character creation phase. I think limiting classes is ok when you have a lot of races to choose from, a la Everquest, but when you have four races to choose from, I think you might want to broaden the horizons. There is a “monster play” feature, but I have yet to unlock it (and am unsure if it can be unlocked on the trial account), so maybe that adds to the fun but I doubt it does much of anything.
Graphically, LOTRO is beautiful. I had seen screenshots around the web for the past year since the game had gone live but I didn’t really think too much of it. I was too wrapped up in EQ2 at the time. Now don’t get me wrong, I prefer the graphical style of EQ2 as compared to WoW, but I think LOTRO is a lot better looking. I’d say it looks graphically much like WAR is going to look, at least from screens I’ve seen. It’s like a combination of EQ2 and WoW’s graphical styles, and though that’s hard to describe, It’s a good thing. The game looks good and my system was able to run it on a higher graphics setting than I have been able to on EQ2. The only downfall I’ve seen is the lighting effects during combat. They’re a bit lacking compared to what I’m used to. Maybe that will change later on, but in the early levels it’s pretty pathetic.
The background music is nice, the sound effects are standard. The fact that there are dynamic sounds during the “drama” that unfolds during quests is immersive. Otherwise, sound is sound, and most people will most likely turn it off in favor of listening to their Ipods.
Gameplay is standard faire. The hotbars are set up more like WoW’s (at least to begin with), and I haven’t really tried to customize things much, it’s been effective for as far as I’ve gotten with the game. Otherwise, the targeting and combat systems are just like every other MMO out there that I’ve played. It’s no more or no less innovative. Click to target, spam hotkeys, rinse, repeat. The quests are standard. The leveling system is a little different than EQ2, but I believe is similar to WoW’s, where you have to train new skills as you level, instead of getting them automatically. You also don’t get new skills every level, but there’s plenty of info out there on the internet to find out when you do. Overall, the game is just like most MMOs out there, it just stands out because LOTR is a huge franchise. So if you’re looking for a new game, just consider that this one will be much like the ones you’ve already played. But then again, all of them are the same, with little tweaks here and there, so I guess it really doesn’t matter which one you pick.
I’m going to continue playing this until the trial runs out, then I’m not sure if I’ll actually buy it or not. So far when I’ve been out and about in town, I haven’t seen any copies of it on the shelves. But I had that same problem when I tried to find EQ2. So if I do end up playing it, I suppose I’ll just have to digitally download it or have it shipped to me. I have to make the decision soon, as my trial only has 8 days left.