As some of you may recall, I had attempted to play Turbine's MMORPG The Lord of the Rings Online early last year, but my poor old computer just wasn't up to it. Of course the new PC, which Trish says I should call Conan because it's so bulked up, plays the game beautifully. The big monitor displays the hi-res images to their best advantage.
I'm really impressed with the graphics on the game. The textures on buildings, rocks, trees, etc are extremely well done. There some amazing touches. Fields of wild flowers sparkle with color. Groves of trees throw dappled shadows on the ground that waver as the wind stirs the leaves. Deer move like deer through the woods.
Combat is well done, once you gain a few levels. I'm playing a tank as usual, and I have any number of nifty sword attacks and feats. Camera moves are smooth and so far I haven't run into any of the glitches I occasionally encountered while playing Guild Wars. This weekend, Laura and I played quite a bit and I got to give the game a real workout. My only real complaint is that LotR online has the usual early levels errand oriented quests. You know the kind. Go to this hobbit's farm and pick up this thing. Take it to this guy. Go collect berries and roots and take them to this other guy to stop a plague. Run down to the ruins in the marsh and kill this many spiders. Gets a bit tedious, but it's the only way to level up and it also teaches you how to play the game as you go so I guess it has its purpose. However, if I ever design an online game, I'm skipping that stage.
Now as far as Middle Earth goes, the look of the game is, not surprisingly, pretty much the look of the Peter Jackson LotR films. Costumes and armor and weapons all look like the movie versions. I'm basically okay with that. The storyline of the first release takes place during the story of The Lord of the Rings but your character is far from the action, at least initially. There are some references. One NPC mentioned Strider had been through town a few days earlier and another mentioned trouble in the shire.
Now a personal note. Whenever I play a computer game, be it PC, PS2 or MMORPG, I always test just how virtual is it. What can I do and what can't I? Like, can I climb on the buildings? Yes I can, though it takes a little work. Players have been a bit surprised to find me running around on the roofs in Bree.
And, Oh here's a waterfall. Can I go over the falls if I jump in the river, and if I do will it kill me? Yes I can and no it didn't. And, hey I can swim in the lakes. Can I go underwater? No. If an animal or monster attacks me and I leap into the lake, will it follow me into the lake? Yes it will. Will it sink after I kill it? Yes it will. Can I jump on the furniture in the inn? Yes. Can I jump in the fountain? Yes. Can I hide under the waterfall? Yes. Get the idea? I'm just a curious guy. I always wonder what the interface will allow.
So anyway, I'm giving LotR online a thumbs up. Overall I've been pretty impressed with it so far. I only wish the game would let me play a barbarian. I named my character Kharrn, after one of my Conan stand ins and I gave him long hair, but he doesn't look too barbarous in his green tunic and tan leggings. Maybe after I get some armor I can roughen him up a bit...