The Lord of the Rings – Gollum test


When the news first reached me that a Lord of the Rings game was being made starring the famous Gollum, or Szméagol (or vice versa), I didn’t quite understand why… why? Who would be moved by the story of this miserable character, whose fate is known to everyone?

Maybe (in fact, I’m sure) the problem is with me, but I never liked the character of Smeagol, and absolutely not Gollum. Only the brilliant performance of Andy Serkiss, and his computer-generated rendering, which was considered worthy of recognition at the time, made this character memorable for me in the movies. The details of his story didn’t really get to me, and to be honest, I don’t mind, because they would have left me completely cold.

However, Daedalic Entertainment thought there must be Gollum fans in the sizable fan base of the Lord of the Rings franchise, so here comes The Lord of the Rings – Gollum. A stealthy, intriguing, skill game, in which it is revealed what kind of tricks the title character did between the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings books.

I am the intruder who melts into the car and hangs out on the right side.

I rarely decide to upset my usual article format, but in this case I felt it was important, because the very first thing that caught my eye was the graphics and animation of the characters, closely followed by the voice acting. The presentation at idle, especially the environment, is pretty and detailed; for example, when Gollam climbs the wall, the vegetation in the way moves properly, and the underwater effects are also pleasant, but the orcs, the people and Szméagol himself were created so hair-raisingly that I can only hope for the first day’s “patch”.

Our poor protagonist looks like a googly-eyed plucked frog (not that most frogs aren’t hairless anyway) and jumps like one. Well, I realize that it’s possible that in Tolkien’s inexhaustible literature it must be written somewhere that he turned into such a frog-like creature over the long years of his life, but I just couldn’t take it seriously when I saw it. It also didn’t help the situation that he can easily jump 3-4 meters vertically, while using a breakneck pose, as if he was caught by hull stiffness while jumping.

A hand kiss to you spider woman, good relations must be nurtured... well, let's run.

A hand kiss to you spider woman, good relations must be nurtured… well, let’s run.

Each of the characters uses extremely strange facial expressions while speaking, moves interestingly, and wears endlessly ridiculous armor, especially the orcs. The metal braces in question are often twice the size of the limb they have to cover; I saw such shoulder pads and helmets on a couple of guards, it’s a wonder they didn’t fall over in them. It was rather comical when two huge pieces of metal walked past me on limping legs.

Furthermore, I missed the direct presence of the brutality already well known from the Lord of the Rings world. There is no blood, the camera does not show the deaths, and if we were to fall, it would also be bloodless, while the main character croaks like a death rattle. Of course, there is nothing wrong with that, in the end, but I don’t understand the age limit of 16 plus, but this may be the fault of modern youth; we’re so used to violence and gore that references just aren’t enough anymore.

One pair of eyes to the right, the other to the left; neither knows what the other would like.

One pair of eyes to the right, the other to the left; neither knows what the other would like.

The dub is generally adequate; there are hit characters, but there are also horrible ones, however, the big problem is that they did not use the original actors. As a result, the voices of Szméagol and Gandalf seem alien, despite the fact that the voice of Gandalf tried very hard to reproduce the sonorous style of the legendary Ian McKellen, but he only managed to trace it. And Gollam’s dubbing is only passable at best, but sometimes hair-raising.

Now that we’ve gotten over the biggest miseries of my heart, let’s see what we’re dealing with. According to the story, Gandalf found Sméagol after the elves captured and imprisoned him (Sméagol, not Gandalf). Here, our little friend tells the magician what kind of adversity he had to fight through in the past years, when Mordor was his home, and after the interrogation ends, the little frog’s adventure continues in Bakacsinerdö.

The frog hops, oh big dream; don't let the texture slide out from under me.

The frog hops, oh big dream; don’t let the texture slide out from under me.

The gameplay is not complicated. We always have a certain task: go here and there, do this and that; nothing earth-shattering, besides the track design is both linear and complicated, the end result of which is that the player often gets lost and has to run back and forth to find the right path, of which there is only one. Gollum’s “instincts” show us roughly where to go next, but this technique is often useless, since the “instincts” rarely show the exact way, and in many cases they only suggest, or do not show at all.

An example would be a part where I was in orbit for at least an hour and at the end my nervous system was in a worse state than after a hearty Dark Souls party. I had to sneak out of a residential area to catch a bird. After I managed to acrobatic my way to the bird, I couldn’t go any further, only back to the room from which I originally climbed out.

What a wonderful structure this is; as if it was made just for me... (it was).

What a wonderful structure this is; as if it was made just for me… (it was).

The “instincts” (“r” button) showed that I had to do something in this room, but the system refused to tell me anything else. In the end, I managed to figure out that I had to climb onto bookshelves and then split through the roof structure to get to the oil. The situation was not helped by the fact that it was dark and it was almost impossible to notice the slightly more prominent shelves on the shelves (which shows that you can climb on them). Let’s just say that at this point my fingers were shaking a lot over Alt + F4.

In most cases, the tasks we receive are boring and repetitive and serve no other purpose than wasting time. For some reason, I didn’t find it too interesting how Uncle Gollum gathered the monsters with unspeakable names in the bestiary. There are one or two more interesting “missions”, I see; that was how birds were hatched, although it seemed rather strange, because everyone would think of Sméagol that he would eat the birds before hatching their eggs. But an order is an order.

Don't worry good friend, dear to me, ni; I won't eat you (yet).

Don’t worry good friend, dear to me, ni; I won’t eat you (yet).

Then there are the stealth parts, where you have to climb walls, jump here and there, and slide from cover to cover to reach your destination without being noticed by the guards. We can achieve this by holding down the crawl key (“Ctrl”), and by using the shadows. If someone happens to see us, we can still avoid getting caught by circling around to get out of the sight of our pursuers and we can hide, but climbing to a high point is also a solution. Artificial intelligence is not that it cannot climb crates, but it has problems with ladders as well.

Szméagol, by the way, is surprisingly skilled and acrobatic. In addition to vertical jumps of several meters, he can easily climb rougher wall parts and more folded surfaces, he can span lengths that put long jumpers to shame, he can also crawl along overhangs, he can also bounce from wall to wall and he can also run along completely vertical surfaces (provided that it is also rougher , stickier). He doesn’t really know how to fight, only ambush attacks and strangulation are good for him.

The art of persuasion is based on the mind; the strong wins and the weak fall to dust.

The art of persuasion is based on the mind; the strong wins and the weak fall to dust.

The tasks and the story management, as well as the levels, are linearly structured, but our protagonist has two personalities, and in certain situations we can decide how to react: on Szméagol út or Gollam út. In such cases, one personality has to convince the other why it is better to act this way than that. In this case, we have to conduct three or four rounds of discussion, softening the “adversary” personality with the appropriate answers. This will minimally change the final result, but at least this mechanic fills the otherwise gray system with color.

Of course, the game areas are always worth exploring, because you can find hidden information, collectable trinkets, and you can talk to non-player characters to learn even more interesting things about the given situation and the environment. In some places, the dialogues seemed extremely strange, foreign and out of place. As I already mentioned, the problem is probably with me, but I could never imagine Gollum moving around bigger people like some small subordinate or subordinate, and not at all that anyone would stop to talk to him about more personal concerns.

We need to direct others on occasion; to death or safety, we don't have to think much.

We need to direct others on occasion; to death or safety, we don’t have to think much.

No matter how I tried to shoot it, the story couldn’t excite me at all (despite the fact that we get one or two more interesting characters), but that’s because I wasn’t interested in the fate of the main character on any level. There are bound to be some obsessive Sméagol fans out there, Earth is a big place after all; they might be able to appreciate the story a little better. Provided they survive the set of technical problems the game suffers from.

Graphical anomalies, unjustified camera and character jumps, stutters, slippery surfaces, hidden places with bugs; there is something for every eye and mouth here. Unfortunately, due to these errors, I had to repeat certain parts of the adventure many times, and although there is an autosave quite often, I don’t think anyone likes the trial and cherry gameplay, which means that we have to retry each obstacle at least ten times, through no fault of our own, we can definitely get through it.

Black, white, yes, no; true or false, the story is not disturbed by either.

Black, white, yes, no; true or false, the story is not disturbed by either.

At least I didn’t encounter any fatal errors; the game didn’t crash even once, and I didn’t get permanently stuck anywhere. However, all things considered the experience was frustrating and drawn out rather than exciting. Prince of Persia’s jumping elements worked for the most part (although there were a few, almost impossible jumps), even if they also felt weird, and in the stealth parts I sometimes got caught even when I was in a hiding place and a transition was going on. There was joy.

So at the end, I still don’t see the raison d’être for this game, but as I mentioned a couple of times, I’m not perfect. Even if I let go of all subjective problems and focus only on the lenses, it’s not much more than The Lord of the Rings – Gollum, a simple but sometimes frustrating work. Actually, it’s not so bad that I warn everyone against it, but it’s not really outstanding either. Worth a try. But just one. After discount.

The article is in Hungarian

Tags: Lord Rings Gollum test


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