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The Lord of the Rings: The Treason of Isengard
Preview By: Nick Arvites
Developer:  Surreal Software
Publisher:  Black Label Games
Genre:  Adventure
Est. Release:  January 2004
Posted:  8-19-03

The Lord of the Rings: The Treason of Isengard is being developed by Surreal Software and is being published by Vivendi Universal Interactive under their Black Label Games name. This game promises to take advantage of the now hot Lord of the Rings license. Unlike the Lord of the Rings games being developed by Electronic Arts, the ones published by Vivendi Universal Interactive are based on the novels instead of the movies. This means that The Lord of the Rings: The Treason of Isengard will feature scenes and events that were either absent or altered in the Peter Jackson films. While the movies were fairly accurate with their translation of the classic novels, there are inconsistencies with events in the books and events in the movies. For example, this game will feature the death of Boromir and Gollum trailing the Hobbits. Boromir was killed at the end of The Fellowship of the Ring movie, but in actuality he dies in the beginning of The Two Towers. The developers have also commented that there will be scenes depicting Gollum trailing the Hobbits in his never-ending search for the ring.

The game will be in a 3rd person view and feature combat, puzzles, exploration and stealth. If this sounds like some sort of strange blend of gameplay styles, consider that this is the follow-up to last yearís dud, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (which was actually quite a bit better on PS2 under Surrealís direction). One can only hope that Black Label Games has learned from the previous outing and will actually give this game all of the shine and polish the franchise deserves. If the designers can keep the game following the combination of gameplay styles through the entire game (unlike last year), we could be in store for a really good translation of Tolkienís work.

Gamers will have the opportunity to play as seven Lord of the Rings characters as they explore and experience the events of The Two Towers. Boromir, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and Sam are known characters. This leaves two open character spaces as well as any secret characters that could be added. Some of the screens depict Ents destroying Isengard, which could mean Treebeard is a playable character. One can only dream.

This game does also feature a co-op mode, where two players can fight alongside each other and experience the adventures of Middle Earth. Also included are various upgrades for each of the playable characters. This should help keep the gameplay fresh throughout the entire game since the characters should be gaining new abilities. The designers also tout the advanced AI which allows non-player characters to assist in combat.

At this point in development, The Lord of the Rings: The Treason of Isengard looks like it could actually make up for many of the terrible games that have used the Lord of the Rings license. Expect more information and screens, as we get closer to the early 2004 release.

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