by Chris "Lefty" Brown
Lord of the Rings: Conquest really hits the mark when it comes to multi-player game play. In my hands on preview of the game, the online multi-player matches were by far the sweetest enticement in moving my game purchasing decision from Rent to Buy.
There are four different online multi-player modes in Lord of the Rings: Conquest. Like in previous versions of the Battlefront series, they include Conquest, Deathmatch, and Hero Deathmatch. Conquest is a flag-grab mode in which the teams must try to capture and hold maps. The Deathmatch modes is a race to see which side can accumulate 150 kills first, but with Hero Deathmatch all the players use the Heroes and Villains from the video game.
Also in LOTR: Conquest is a mode called Capture the Ring, in which the One Ring is placed in strategic place in a map and the force of good and evil must pick up the ring and bring it into the opponent’s spawn area. For me that was the most compelling mode of the multi-player experience. This mode really does succeed in making teams work together, communicate, and work towards a common goal. Capture the Ring really felt like a competitive sports match with intense back and forth play. It was really quite stellar and has the makings of being the feather in Pandemic’s hat.
The online multi-player can be played with up to 16 people, and players can play against bots as well. Lord of the Rings: Conquest does allow for four person split-screen multi-player matches, but I did not a chance to see this in our exclusive hands on. All the players can choose which of the four classes they want to play and depending on the mode they can sometimes chose certain areas to spawn in. In the matches we played online we didn’t experience any lag, but I am unsure what our set up was for those matches as to whether it was wired or wireless. Also at certain points during the games, the player with the highest amount of kills are given the option of playing as a Hero or Villain (depending what side the player is on) in the match until the end of the match or until they are killed off.
The online multi-player matches really do lend themselves to working together as a team. Lord of the Rings: Conquest has the potential as being a game perfect for clans or guilds to play in competitively. During our online play, our group of community website and podcasters faced off against several of Pandemic’s development team and we quickly learned that they key was working together or we’d be picked apart fast.
It’s unsure just how many maps will be available for online multi-player when Lord of the Rings: Conquest launches next year. I did not get a chance to play through all the maps in the latest build, but the maps I did play were very balanced. Some of the maps too place in very large areas on various battlefields and some were very small intimate environments. All the maps looked great visually and offered a nice mix of different ways players can use certain areas in their favor. I am also unsure how much custom match-making there will be in the game, if players will be to chance the match parameters to have longer or short matches or plays as certain classes. In my hands on time, I did not get the chance to see how or if that would be in the game.
During the two interview sessions it was alluded to but not confirmed that future DLC may include new maps and new modes of game play. Representatives at Pandemic did say that they will be planning for “substantive” downloadable content. Also, the achievements and trophies on the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3 respectively, will be spread among the campaign and the multi-player parts of the video game.