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The Lord of the Rings: Gollum Review – We Don’t Want It, We Don’t Need It

I’m a bit of a masochist when it comes to art. I listen to music that the average listener would describe as “unlistenable”. I enjoy the skin-crawling discomfort of the blockbuster musical Cats.. I’m drawn to games that make me bang my head against a wall, for better or worse. But any pain addict has limits, and The Lord of the Rings: Gollum pushed me to my limit.

Daedalic Entertainment’s long overdue stealth adventure simply misses the mark, centering around one of Middle-earth’s most iconic (if not exactly likable) characters not. It is a truly epic, uncontrollable disaster. tolkien level Epic – proportions. Beyond overly simplistic level design, obnoxiously outdated graphics, and utterly uninteresting gameplay, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is almost unplayable broken and, in recent memory, a licensed proprietor. It has one of the worst uses.

Playing: Lord of the Rings: Gollum | Gameplay Showcase Trailer

The game begins in Siris Ungol, an orc-infested suburb of Mordor. It’s been nearly 60 years since Bilbo Baggins stole the One Ring from the Ring, who came to be known as the slimy, wimpy protagonist, Smeagol, or Gollum. The heart of this story, which occurred shortly before the events depicted in The Lord of the Rings, is immediately recognizable to anyone with even the slightest familiarity with the series. Gollum must find Bilbo and get back Bilbo’s “important thing” at all costs. Sauron’s wrath on the way.

You control Gollum in third person view (except when he’s swimming, oddly enough). Combat isn’t a focus, as he can barely lift a metal spoon, let alone wield a weapon, but he does get occasional opportunities to sneak up from behind and strangle him, for which he manages to muster energy. Instead, the game revolves around all stealth. Taking advantage of the relatively sparse climbable ground, it crawls from above, crawls in shadows to remain invisible above ground, throws stones to knock down light fixtures, and distracts guards.

Before proceeding, you must speak to the elephant (or Mumakil) in the room. At the time of review, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum was not ready to play. The game crashed him more than 120 times (yes, I counted, masochist, remember?) in about 11 hours of playing in PlayStation 5 “Performance” mode. On average he crashed once in about five minutes. After 20 or so crashes, I got the dreaded “save data corrupted” message, only to realize half a day’s worth of progress was lost when reloading. In multiple other instances, game-breaking bugs (such as an ally I was tasked with protecting instantly dying multiple times for no apparent reason) forced me to redo an entire level, resulting in significant progress being lost. Lost. Finally, crashes became more frequent, especially during tedious and lengthy puzzles, which could cause you to miss the next checkpoint. I was determined to make it through to the end and make this setback worthwhile, but I threw in the towel after losing at 40% completion.

After painstakingly starting a new game and overwriting the data from my original playthrough, I tried turning off the previously overlooked setting “Gollum Hair Simulation”. Doing so reduced the number of crashes significantly, but didn’t seem to affect other critical bugs much. It seems like all this setting does is make Gollum’s hair look a little oilier and smoother, but if you ask me, I don’t think this is worth rebooting on an almost regular basis. . So if you decide to play this game, we highly recommend turning this setting off.

Aside from these potentially game-ruining issues, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is full of bugs of all kinds, from hilarious to frustrating. Sometimes, I would load up at a checkpoint and find myself stuck on the ground, making a nasty rumbling noise and dying immediately. Other times, I would get into a “crouching” state or get completely stuck, forcing me to restart the game. Cutscenes often end abruptly, with regularly out-of-focus NPCs getting cut off mid-sentence. The harrowing escape scene is played with dramatic music one episode and complete silence the next. The list goes on.

Beyond simplistic level design, obnoxious outdated graphics, and utterly uninteresting gameplay, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is broken to the point of being almost unplayable.

During the game, even in rare cases teeth While it hums just fine, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum’s graphics are surprisingly lackluster for a 2023 release. The environment art design is compelling even from a distance, especially in the hellish underground fortress of Baradur, where you’ll spend most of the first half of the game as a prisoner slave. But when you look closer, the vines, rock faces, and fire pits that make up the world around you are mostly flat, lacking detail, and sometimes just straight up blurry. Bubbles in water only fit in the frame when stationary and appear as stationary hand-drawn circles. Some of the cave paintings inspected in Gollum’s Lair early in the game literally look like they were painted in Microsoft Paint. The NPCs look more on par with the characters we’d expect to see in 2011’s The Lord of the Rings: Northern War than in current-gen games. And while Gollum himself is relatively impressive in terms of art and animation, his cartoonish, cross-eyed style isn’t for everyone, and even he is often out of focus. Again, the list goes on.

Daedalic said some of these issues will be resolved in the Day One patch. We don’t yet know what will fix it, but in its pre-patch state, the game is far from finished and I wouldn’t recommend anyone play it, let alone consider the $60 price tag.

Now, when it comes to enjoyment, technical achievement isn’t the only determining factor. There are many examples of games that were riddled with issues upon release but were able to deliver an overall enjoyable experience due to the strength of their gameplay. Unfortunately, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is not an example of such a game. The most obvious gameplay issue is the mission design. Aside from a few more-in-depth goals at key story moments, most of the task is the “Follow that person!” version. “Collect your stuff!” Or literally, “Get in line!” Unless these missions take place in a massive open-world environment, instead, most of the early-game missions take place within the narrow confines of his Barad-dûr, where players be forced to act. Visit the same locations over and over again to advance the story. The game is completely linear, so the path to the next checkpoint always feels like it’s on rails, leaving no room for exploration or thinking outside the box.

The mundane nature of the missions isn’t even offset by a particularly fun and inventive traversal system. To get from point A to point B most of the time you need to use the same small set of tools. This means climbing predefined paths on walls, scaling along ledges, and jumping off monkey bars. It feels like they’ve handpicked some of the most basic climbing mechanics from the games that popularized climbing, but contextualize the variety and freedom necessary to make the experience rewarding. I could not do it.

When it comes to stealth, the gameplay is similarly rudimentary, mostly thanks to the tremendous incompetence of the enemy AI. Crawling through the shadows is enough to hide from the Orc guards. They might even notice you trying to cross the room and go investigate, but if you get into the shadows in time, even if they were only inches away, You become completely invisible to them. Occasionally, a light source may need to be removed in order to pass, but the orcs respond to this by walking up, staring at it for a while, then returning to their path without being lit again.

Gameplay is often too easy, but is hindered considerably by Gollum’s stats. The stamina required to run and climb certain objects drains quickly and reloads at a snail-like pace. Your health is equally vulnerable. You take fall damage from ridiculously low heights at times, and you have very few resources (mainly worms and mushrooms) to replenish your HP. There are no new abilities or upgrades that can be unlocked the same time teeth It’s a potentially interesting idea to mirror Gollum’s withered nature in the character’s low base stats, but it ends up playing more of an annoyance than a meaningful storytelling device.

But the story is the best that The Lord of the Rings: Gollum aims to be, supported by a suitably epic soundtrack. A moment of dialogue between Gollum and his alter-ego Smeagol, where he has to convince the other personalities to follow his decisions, is an interesting glimpse into the character’s inner moral conflict that made him quintessential in the first place. (Even if it does, the voice acting that guides these scenes pales in comparison to the film’s iconic portrayal of Andy Serkis.) A handful of new characters add background and texture to this era, one of his least explored in Tolkien’s series.

Still, it could have delved deeper, and the game surrounding the story is ultimately too distracting to really resonate with. Rather than aiming for stardom, Daedalic could have invested more resources in enriching the story and approaching the game as one of its signature point-and-click adventures. . As it stands, that might be enough to keep you hooked for lore-hungry die-hard fans of the series, but for the average player, the story doesn’t hold up to the rest of the game.

Much like Gollum’s quest for The One Ring, my quest to complete The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is fraught with endless setbacks, impossible odds, and ever-increasing levels of insanity. was And like Gollum, my journey was doomed from the start. So if the main goal of the developers is to really put them in the shoes of such pathetic and unlovable characters who face constant pain and suffering at every turn, they’ve succeeded at least in that regard. The Lord of the Rings: Gollum Review – We Don’t Want It, We Don’t Need It

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