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|The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers|
|Developer(s)||Stormfront Studios, Hypnos Entertainment|
Multiplayer (GBA version only)
|Media/distribution||1 × DVD
1 × GameCube disc
64 MB game cartridge
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is a 2002 cross-platform video game based on Peter Jackson's New Line Cinema films The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. The title was one of the top selling console titles of 2002 and 2003, and was widely praised for its seamless transitions from actual film footage to interactive game play.
The game was developed for PlayStation 2 and Xbox by Stormfront Studios, and published by Electronic Arts, who also published a version of it for the Nintendo GameCube. In 2003, EA released the sequel The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
The Two Towers allows players to portray Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas (although Isildur is playable on the first level then unlocked once players complete the Tower of Orthanc level), (Aragorn, Legolas, Gandalf, Frodo or Éowyn in the GBA version. Gimli is also unlockable in multi-player mode) in a series of missions, many taken directly from either The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring or The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Other missions, such as Fangorn Forest, are original pieces within the films' setting.
The Two Towers boasts many enemies from Goblins to Uruk-hai. Also Trolls and Wargs make their respective appearances through the progression of the game. The majority of levels end with a final more powerful boss enemy which the player must defeat. In the console version of the game, Merry and Pippin are not featured at all apart from cutscenes and references during the narration, and Sam has a few lines but is never shown onscreen. The game does not show Frodo and Sam's journey either. NPCs on the game include Gandalf the Grey, Gandalf the White, Frodo, Boromir, Elrond, and Haldir. These appear only in cutscenes or fight alongside your player during certain levels.
The first level, the Slopes of Mt. Doom, sets the player in the final battle of the Siege of Barad-dûr. Isildur does battle with many orcs and after the level is completed, a cutscene shows how he defeats Sauron (though he does not truly perish) and takes the One Ring. Isildur is influenced by the Ring and refuses to destroy it when he has the chance. This is really a training level. Next, Aragorn and the hobbits approach Weathertop, a hill about midway between the Shire and Rivendell. They camp on the hill, but are attacked in the night by the Ringwraiths. Aragorn successfully drives them off, but not before Frodo is stabbed with a Morgul-blade.
After reluctantly agreeing to detour through Moria to continue the Quest of the Ring, the Fellowship travel to the Gates of Moria. Traveling through snow, rocky terrains and eventually marshy grounds, the companions make it to the Doors of Durin, but are soon attacked by the Watcher. After slaying the creature they continue into Moria. In a chamber in Moria, the Fellowship finds Balin's tomb. Soon after entering orcs can be heard rallying towards the room. After holding their ground and slaying many orcs, a cave troll arrives, but the collective efforts of the team defeat it; Frodo is speared in the chest by the troll, but he is saved by his mithril coat. The nine companions manage to get to the exit, but on their way to the Bridge of Khazad-dûm they are confronted by Durin's Bane, and Gandalf sacrifices himself to allow the others to get out of Moria.
The Company of the Ring pass by Amon Hen and are ambushed by a large party of Uruk-hai—a stronger, faster breed of orcs that can travel without hindrance in sunlight. The Fellowship is broken up during this battle, with Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli slaying as many of the enemy as they can, and Boromir being left alone to defend the hobbits. Sam and Frodo escape, Merry and Pippin being captured by the Uruk-hai, while Boromir is overwhelmed by their sheer numbers. He is slain by Lurtz, the leader of the Uruk company, before Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli can reach him. After avenging their comrade's death, the three set out to find Merry and Pippin. Aragorn uses his skills of tracking to trace the Uruk-hai that captured Merry and Pippin to Fangorn Forest. Deep in the forest they encounter a white wizard. At first they believe it to be Saruman before realising that it is Gandalf, who they thought had been killed in Moria.
Meanwhile, Saruman's legions of Uruk-hai and Orcs ravage the countryside of Rohan virtually unchecked, burning and killing at will. Saruman has provided his evil forces with an explosive mixture, which, when lighted, causes massive damage. Uruk-hai Berzerker Bombers, some suicidal individuals with this concoction strapped on their back, join the army rushing through Rohan destroying towns and villages. Aragorn and the Rohirrim must stop this destruction and save the villages of the Westfold. Saruman sends more of his forces to crush the resistance of Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and Gandalf at the gap of Rohan. This time, the armies include wargs. Along with their riders, wargs are extremely difficult to kill without sustaining a great deal of damage.
Aragorn, Legolas,and Gimli manage to survive all this and join the remaining forces of Rohan at Helm's Deep for the Battle of the Hornburg further aided by the Lórien Elves led by Haldir and sent by Elrond. They are able to hold off the Uruk-hai but the attackers blast a wide hole in the wall using the explosive devices invented by Saruman, a "blasting-fire". After the wall is breached, hundreds of Uruk-hai and other orcs flood inside the walls of the fortress. After sending the women and children deeper inside, one of the three main heroes is tasked with defending the door to the inside. Defeating many enemies and even disabling a dangerous catapult, he succeeds in defending the door. It is revealed that the door to the Great Hall is being assaulted as well. After battling and nearly managing to repulse the attack of multiple Uruk-hai warriors, common orcs and archers, two cave trolls are sent in to destroy the door once and for all. But this last ditched attempt to win the battle fails. Gandalf comes with Éomer and his men and save the day. The end of the battle of the Hornburg is also in the start of The Return of the King video game.
Tower of Orthanc is a bonus level, not relevant to the story, in which Saruman gathers all the forces that remains under his command and unleashes them upon the player as they climb the 20 levels of Orthanc. After the player fights through many orcs, Uruks and Trolls he confronts Saruman. But the rogue wizard uses his magic to teleport and escape, leaving the player stranded at the top of Orthanc. Once you complete this level with any character, you will unlock Isildur at level 10.
As the Xbox and GameCube were already launching at the time of release of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, a multiplatform title would be impossible for the new generation; this was the main reason why the first five levels of The Two Towers game are based on scenes from The Fellowship of the Ring.
Sierra Entertainment and Electronic Arts got halves of the rights for each work: Sierra got the book adaptation rights, while EA got the movie adaptation rights. However later in 2006, EA also obtained the book rights, in time for The Battle for Middle-earth II.
Due to higher availability and easier programming, the PlayStation 2 version was developed and released first, in October 2002, later Xbox and GameCube followed on December 30 of the same year.
A Windows version was planned, but was canceled. It included nine minutes of film footage from The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers that was not present in any film trailer or PR release, and since the game was available a few weeks prior to the film debut, playing the game was the only way for fans to see those clips early.
Included in The Two Towers game is extra bonus media. This includes interviews with Viggo Mortensen, John Rhys-Davies, Orlando Bloom, Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, and Peter Jackson, a making-of featurette, and some concept art.
GamePro gave Two Towers a Fun Factor of 4.5 out of 5.0, and Game Informer gave it a 9.25. Stormfront and EA won the 2003 Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Award for Outstanding Achievement in Visual Engineering for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.
It was later followed by The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in 2003, which improved many aspects of the game and added a multiplayer mode and new playable characters: Gandalf, Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, and Faramir.
IGN, rated the PS2, Xbox and GameCube versions 8.3, 7.6 and 8.0, respectively, they noted the vivid graphics, the well-implemented beat em' up gameplay, the RPG-style elements and the transiton from FMV to in-engine cutscenes, in terms of flaws, they noted that the game was actually hard, that the Xbox version was the same as PS2 and there were only 4 characters to choose, but in conclusion was lasting due to its extras and leveling up. Despite rating it .3 less than the PS2 original, they concluded that GameCube was the best version.
Overall, it is one of the few cases a movie tie-in video game has got favorable reviews, as many of them suffer from rushed schedules and pressure from the film studio.
The game sold very well, and entered the reduced price ranges of all three systems.
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