the year ran 2009. Electronic Arts was plethoric and with all fronts and genres covered. In the sports world, the EA Sports division was still ahead of Pro Evolution Soccer; Battlefield was erected a year earlier with Bad Company as a shooter that he could really beat a Call of Duty at the top with the first two Modern Warfare; and while the MCU was taking its first steps in film, Star Wars and The Lord of the rings still had one importance capital in the video game.
inside the something meager list titles of the license, there was a project that moved away from the line marked by the adaptations of the trilogy of Peter Jackson —it goes without saying that they shone with their own light—. Kind of weird, I know. What worked was rarely left out and more so for an EA that saw profits with any IP, but it seems that John Riccitiello —CEO of the company at the time— wanted to give Pandemic Studios the same opportunity that he gave 5 years earlier to Visceral Games and The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age. This is how The Lord of the Rings: The Conquest came out, a multiplayer game very similar to Battlefield and Battlefront based on Tolkien’s millionaire license. doresounding success? Well, not as much as that.
The truth is that many, including myself, enjoyed The Lord of the Rings: the Conquest from beginning to end. However, the video game industry is capricious and this release marked the final of one pandemic just as plethoric as its publisher, who closed its doors forever a few months after the release of Saboteur in the same year 2009. Was The Lord of the Rings: the Conquest bad? Not at all, in fact the comparison with Battlefield has not been involuntary, nor to draw attention, and it is that Pandemic Studios was the architect of two of the best games in the galactic franchise that laid the foundations for the future of this war saga: Battlefront and Battlefront 2.
It seemed like the best possible team to handle it, and little could be blamed on the concept of the Middle Earth as a battlefield multiplayer. The idea behind The Conquest was to be able to fight on the battlefields of Pelennor, Moria, Mount Doom, and even The Shire—this one as part of a campaEsports Extraswhere Sauron rampages with Aragorn and company at the Black Gate and expands across the continent—, with up to 5 classes playable completely differentiated and with a style of play well known by the Pandemic team.
It had voices and music from the movies, plus war mounts
The idea of including modes like Conquest or Team Deathmatch, all in games of up to 16 players, is common in the modern shooter, I know, but a bit weird back then. Remember that there were still 3 years left for Chivalry: Medieval Warfare, who picked up the baton in this rare medieval online genre. However, this idea was transmuted to this work in a remarkable way, I must say. La Conquista drank from that feeling of “I am a participant of what was previously only a spectator”, very much in line with controlling the snowspeeder in Battlefront 2 being part, however small, of the Battle of Hoth .
Imagine the faces of those kids who lived very young the trilogy giving them the opportunity to ride in the Pelennor Fields as an Eorlinga while facing a mumakil the size of a skyscraper—yes, perspectives change over the years, but what my young eyes saw was beyond belief. Defending Helm’s Deep from the onslaught of Uruk in its Conquest mode – not for that reason the comparison was intended – or Team Duel to the soundtrack of the films, again orchestrated by the same composer, Howard Shore, satisfied the cravings wars of more than one.
The development of this title sought to emulate what had worked in Battlefront and Battlefield. Assault, medic, support, or reconnaissance classes here had the names of soldier, archer, mage, and scout; all of them with unique skills and items. It was clear that a game of this nature had to put aside the subtlety with which Peter Jackson had transferred the magical and fantastic elements on the big screen to embrace the more imaginative and ostentatious of Tolkien’s world, something that felt truly groundbreaking for the license.
La Conquista had no problems with the “nobodies”, in fact it further enhanced a proposal that already felt striking. All the characters were random soldiers, a smart move to feel the weight of battle on our shoulders by not relying on immortal heroes. In fact, it maintained the logic of the conflict and the respawn constantly as one more at the gates of Minas Tirith, for example. Play as Aragorn o Legolas was already possible in the adaptations, but we wanted to see Tolkien’s world from another perspective, a more mundane one. Even so, Pandemic did not disappoint and rescued the same hero system from SW Battlefront with the cast of protagonists and even allowed themselves the luxury of including playable Ents, Trolls and ulifants—although I’ll never shake the thorn of controlling a winged beast of the Nazgûl.
Was it all rosy? Not at all. Despite the powerful name that The Lord of the Rings gave, many users frowned at a somewhat wasted scenario design. This game had to host close combat, so open maps prevailed, but that did not shake the pulse of a Pandemic that knew how to perfectly transfer the movie epic with scenes of huge battles and hundreds of scripted NPCs beyond the borders of these scenarios.
We are talking about an almost niche game, not so much because of its proposal, after all it is one of the most important licenses in history developed by a recognized company. Even so, very few played this title and it sank in a 2009-2010 catalog where EA’s ship of good luck began to capsize. It didn’t take a year for Electronic Arts to shut down the servers—although, and now all we have left is the memory of a great work that had it all, and ended in nothing.