Lord of the Rings: Tactics
brings the “Lord of the Rings
Trilogy” into a turn-based strategy game in the vein of Final Fantasy Tactics
. The similarities between those two and LotR: Tactics
In LotR: Tactics, you play through the Trilogy from the perspective of either the Fellowship or Mordor. A quick montage of clips from the movie introduces each mission, setting up the action. By now, it is assumed that most people know the trilogy backwards and forwards already, so the clips are really just there to give you a quick basis to build the mission from (many of which take a few liberties for the sake of gameplay). Mission goals are pretty standard, though they do stray from the "kill everything" formula. For example, in the Mines of Moria, you simply have to get your party out of the mines. More times than not you're protecting a certain character, usually Frodo or one of the main heroes.
The unique difference between LotR: Tactics and other SRPGs is that both sides move and attack at the same time. Turns are broken down into rounds, which are further broken down into Movement and Attack Phases. Each round begins with both sides mapping out their movement on the field, after which both move. If two opposing characters meet each other (by crossing nearby movement squares), they stop. Once everyone has moved, the Attack phase comes up and once again both sides assign actions at the same time.
Characters have both ranged and melee attacks, so it is rare that a character won't be able to make some sort of attack per round (unless you’re using Eomer), though some are obviously better suited for one attack type or another. Combat on both sides takes place between a handful of heroes, which does take away from the epic feel of the movie's battles. Heroes on both sides are evenly matched, with their only real differences being different abilities. For example, Legolas's special attacks are geared more towards long-range combat while Gimli's are made for close-quarters fighting. The lack of balance, or rather the fact that all characters are so evenly balanced, is one of the bigger liberties taken with the game since it gives characters such as Sam the ability to go toe-to-toe with the Witch-King and win. In a similar fashion to the movement restrictions, if two characters are standing adjacent to each other, then they can't attack beyond that person.
As a SRPG, LotR: Tactics is decent, though it does have a few problems that keep it from being among the best. For one, as unique as the actual "tactics" engine is, it really doesn't work as well as you would want. The system sets up an interesting chess-like dynamic where you're constantly having to guess what the A.I. is going to do next, but at the same time, the Zone of Control elements (where you can't move or attack past adjacent enemies) add an artificial limitation that hurts the game. It is a simple example of something working great in theory and then stumbling in practice. If Legolas is protecting Frodo, doesn't it make sense that he'd shoot an arrow towards the orc attacking Frodo even though he has an orc in front of him? Or why can't Aragorn be quick enough to slip behind an enemy to get in a surprise slash to the back?