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Tycho / on Fri, Nov 5 2004 at 4:30 am

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Something Borrowed

Grabbed Lord
of the Rings: Third Age
yesterday, and regardless of anything that
is implied by

href="http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2004/11/05">

the
strip I’m perfectly happy with it - probably because I know what
it is and I don’t expect it to reform the genre.  It is a delicious
electronic pork rind, and I’m going to sit right here on the Goddamn
couch and eat it.

I can understand if a person likes Lord of the Rings too much to play a game that takes liberties like this, putting mystical artifacts and elfin delicacies in conspicuous forest chests.  Some people simply won’t tolerate canonical gymnastics of this type, and being a stickler on the subject certainly bears no shame payload on this site.  At the moment, I genuinely want what’s on offer here - a fast-paced RPG that will let me kick ass on a monster dog. 

Picture something like the Final Fantasy games we compare Third Age to in the strip.  Now, remove that extra bit of subdermal OCD that series tends to foster.  I’m referring to systems that that add that extra bit of richness in exchange for some of your sanity, like a Sphere Grid or job system.  Skills are drawn from simple trees that advance with use.  All items and equipment come from drops or chests, which streamlines it even further.  Even Diablo has a store, and it’s considered about as low to the ground as an RPG can get and still be, well, an RPG.  Honestly, and again, I’m just in exactly right mood for it, with the countryside infested by orcs unified by an undying evil, I’m having a hard time picturing my characters haggling with a shopkeeper over some lembas bread. 

I was surprised to learn that Third Age covers all three films - as I mentioned once before, I assumed EA would find the Trilogy Cash irresistible.  The game literally yelps franchise, if you put your ear close to the disc you can hear it.  I’m sure some clever person over there can figure out a way to wring another retail product out of this concept, and I hope they do.  With a touch more depth in the systems and narrative - the natural domain of sequels - they could have something that is a great deal more than good enough.

On the subject of Killzone, I wanted to make a clarification.  I claimed that the nicest thing one could say about it is that “it flew real good” when thrown across the room.  I was being facetious.  That is not the nicest thing one could say about it.  The nicest thing one could say is that the developers have an intuitive grasp of the first-person perspective, and they use it as well as anyone ever has.  Reloading, executing melee attacks, and interacting with the environments are as convincing as I have ever seen communicated visually.  Then, once they managed to put me utterly in the game context, I immediately wanted back out.  The game itself plays like a kind of dystopian Hogan’s Alley.   

(CW)TB out.

jumping when she claps and that


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