Lord of the Rings: Return of the King by Al Giovetti


By Al Giovetti
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Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

Summary * History * Company Line * Game Play * Plot * Graphics * Animation * Voice Actors * Music Score * Sound Effects * Utilities * Multi-player Features * Cheats, Hints, and Walkthrough * Journalists * References * Letters


This is an action adventure, with the emphasis on frantic, knee-jerk, button pushing, port from the popular console game. The game has excellent full motion video from the film. When you complete certain parts of the game you unlock features similar to those found on the DVD version of the movie, that include wonderful, if short, interviews with the stars who also contributed their voices to the game.


Company Line

Game Play

The most interesting change in Lost Dungeons of Norath is the addition of new generated missions. But rather than embrace the random generated missions seen in Anarchy Online and Star Wars Galaxies, Lost Dungeons of Norath, has preset missions that involve a group of travelers in a unique dungeon.

The new dungeons have a time limit on them, unlike those of Star Wars Galaxies, which can be completed up to months later, should the player go on a hiatus and not finish a mission. Time limits in games are what I like the least about quests. Many people are of the type that like to take their time and be careful-- these people will not like the new quest system. This two hour time limit on the quest requires you to be reckless and press on without rest.

Another thing about the quests is that you cannot go on these quests without a group. A four to six member group when they reach the waypoint enter a dungeon and have two hours to complete the task. The dungeon is set to the difficulty of the first person entering the dungeon. If you want an easy quest with less spectacular loot and experience, have the lowest level enter first. If you want a difficult quest with the best loot and experience, have the highest level character enter first. If you choose the best loot and experience be prepared to be bested in the dungeon and to not succeed.

The numerical barrier to these new quests eliminates the solo player. Everquest is not really designed for the solo player anyway. Everquest requires that you go through the time wasting process of finding and assembling a group of human beings who have different needs, expectations and play styles.

The assembly of an Everquest group is more of a pain than in any other game I have ever played. Group members are late, they need to run errands, they get lost, they leave you in the middle of nowhere when things don't go their way, they make stupid mistakes that get the group killed after hours of getting to the camp site, they loot the quest item and gate out without helping the others in the group. The best Everquest group I ever had was the one made up of family members. We got together offline and could rely on each other to help, share, and be dependable.

The other problem is that the Lost Dungeons of Norath are set dungeons with different goals. While the goals change from a rescue, to assassination, or to find an item; the dungeons remain pretty much the same. In fact, even with the changing goals, things become pretty repetative after a time, not unlike the whole camping experience before the Lost Dungeons of Norath.

There are good things about this new game. To quote one of the designers, "There are people in Massively Multiplayer Online Games who delight in finding ways to ruin the online experience for others." The new "iterated dungeons" of the Lost Dungeons of Norath create a unique dungeon for your party that no one else can enter. This prevents the game spoilers from getting into and spoiling your experience. This is a very big thing in online gaming and Sony Online Entertainment intend to use similar dungeons in Everquest II to eliminate game spoilers in that experience.

Good news for Rogues is that there are chests and doors that need a Rogue to unlock them. This is the first instance of the need for Rogues to open doors and chests. From what I am told Rogues were useful in the past keeping doors open that could be picked, but there was no essential need for them as seen with Lost Dungeons of Norath.

Since there are many Everquest players who have level 65 characters, the designers have seen fit to also provide raid level missions in the Lost Dungeons for 18 to 36 players. According to the designers, these raid level missions are the toughest challenges seen in Everquest so far.




This game has significant Full Motion Video right from the films, integrated into the game. The locations from the film appear to be right from the film.

Voice Actors

The wonderful actors from the film, return to provide the voices for the game.

Music Score

Sound Effects

Like the voice actors, the sound effects appear to be the same from the film.


This is another console to PC port that uses checkpoints to save progress rather than the traditional PC process of saving whenever the game player chooses. Checkpoint saves for PC games is a bad trend. These checkpoints do not make the PC version of the console game better, but they miss a chance to do this. The game sufferes for it.

The PC is not a console. In many ways the PC is much better than the console. The PC has a better monitor, graphics, sound, and more versitility in save games and other utilities. To reduce a PC port of a Console game to the same exact features of the console is ignoring rather than exploiting the strengths of the PC over the console. This type of game port is a step backwards in game design.

Even if you are a purist and believe that the PC port should be identical in gameplay and utilities. You must agree that it would be superior to give people the choice to play with features that are PC based or console based would be a better design choice.

Multi-player Features


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