EA’s first attempt at recreating the skirmishes from Peter Jackson’s trilogy wasn’t a failure by any means –– The Two Towers combined a combo-based combat system (a la Devil May Cry) with the environments and characters of the Lord of the Rings films with flying colors. But with its second Middle-earth outing in 2003, EA Games expanded the cast of playable characters and allowed players to relive skirmishes however they like. Although Faramir never made it to the Black Gate in Jackson’s film, players can bring him into Mordor’s gaping maw over, and over, and over again.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is a 2003 action/hack and slash video game developed by EA Redwood Shores for the PlayStation 2 and Windows. It was ported to the GameCube and Xbox by Hypnos Entertainment, to the Game Boy Advance by Griptonite Games, to mobile by JAMDAT, and to OS X by Beenox. The game was published by Electronic Arts. It is a sequel to the 2002 game The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.
The game is an adaptation of Peter Jackson’s 2002 film The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and his 2003 film The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, which was released shortly after the game. As it is not an adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien’s 1954 novel, The Return of the King, the third volume in his Lord of the Rings trilogy, anything from the novel not specifically mentioned or depicted in the films could not be represented in the game. This is because, at the time, Vivendi Universal Games, in partnership with Tolkien Enterprises, held the rights to the video game adaptations of Tolkien’s literary works, whilst Electronic Arts held the rights to the video game adaptations of the New Line Cinema films.
The game is similar to its predecessor in basic gameplay, but differs by adding multiple storylines, more playable characters and increased interaction with environments. A two-player co-op mode is also available for some missions. As with The Two Towers, The Return of the King was developed in close collaboration with the filmmakers, using many of the actual reference photos, drawings, models, props and other assets from the film. The game was met with positive critical reception for its graphics, audio, and gameplay, although its camera positioning and short length were criticized.
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