The Lord of the Rings is one of my favorite franchises out there. The movies came out when I was at the perfect age to fully appreciate the fantastical characters and story it so expertly delivered. I loved seeing characters like Legolas and Gimli go at each other, only to grow into great friends, despite the issues their races had with each other. There are so many great personalities to pull from in this series.
The journey into Mordor has stuck with me all these years later, and for the most part, I have found video games based on or set in this world enjoyable. Even back in the day, the Two Towers PS2 video game was a quality movie tie-in that bucked the trend of awful licensed games. Unfortunately, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum reminds me of how the majority of licensed games used to be completely forgettable.
We received a code for The Lord of the Rings: Gollum a few days after it was released last week, so we are not doing a full review like many other sites already have. Frankly, I’m glad to not put myself through any more of this game than I already have. Still, I can confirm that all of the negative reception and impressions you have heard surrounding the game since launch is justified. It is ugly. The controls are wonky. It doesn’t feel good to play. The story is a complete throwaway. There are very few positives I pulled from my three hours playing it.
Never come again, never speak, no never!
Gollum occurs between The Hobbit and the mainline Lord of the Rings stories you love from the novels. Bilbo already has the One Ring, and we are shown Smeagol as he gets captured by the Ring Wraiths and tortured into revealing where the Ring is. Generally, I think Smeagol/Gollum is an interesting character that could have a good story written about him in this timeline. He is a tragic character. One side is truly a villain that only cares for himself. The other is a victim constantly at war with his own mind.
That is a dynamic that the game tries to explore with its decision system, but it doesn’t go far enough with it. Sometimes there are moments when you have to choose which side you want to go with and then actually argue with the other side to win your reasoning. That is a cool idea, but most decisions were menial choices that didn’t seem to impact the story.
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Another way that Gollum places itself as a mediocre 2000s licensed game is how it handles its stealth. Obviously, Smeagol isn’t a fighter, so he needs to avoid enemies. That is all fine, but the stealth in this game just feels like it wasn’t thought through enough. You can stand two feet away from an orc, but as long as you are standing in a shadow they can’t see you. Imagine all of the progress stealth games have made in 20 years between Hitman, Metal Gear Solid, and countless others and throw them out the window. This game either ignores those advancements or uses them in a way that doesn’t make sense.
While I think the voice performances are pretty well delivered for the most part, there are many characters I had no interest in talking to. After being forced to do so many menial tasks in the slave pit, I was ready to sacrifice Smeagol’s life to not deal with the monotony I was going through. The most fun I had in this game was throwing myself into death pits. Following NPCs, climbing walls, and crawling through tunnels lost its luster quickly. I knew I was ready to call it quits.
Leave now, and never come back!
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is not a good game. Whatever you do, do not purchase this at full price. I think Daedalic Entertainment cared about their work, but I would also guess they didn’t have the proper resources to provide a quality game. Delaying this game further wouldn’t fix it. Plenty of bugs and glitches exist, but the base content here isn’t good enough to see any potential if those were fixed. Let Gollum be forgotten in the shadows of the many other Tolkien games much more deserving of your time and attention. It most likely is the worst Lord of the Rings game ever. This is a case that is better off being cast away into the fiery depths of Mount Doom.