''Aside from 2006's real-time strategy effort The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-Earth II, Tolkien's rich fantasy-filled universe has been notably absent from this console generation. Well, hang on to your blood-drenched battle axes because that's about to change. On a recent visit to Electronic Art's NYC Holiday Press Tour, I got my hands dirty and my battle senses tested in Pandemic Studios' upcoming Lord of the Rings: Conquest. It's no coincidence that the house that built the recently released Mercenaries 2: World in Flames is handling EA's treasured licensed property--one that all but allows its holder to print money. You see, the folks behind Mercs are also the Jedi-loving creators of the Star Wars: Battlefront series, and now they're taking that series' recipe for recreating epic on-screen battles and applying it to Lord of the Rings' layered lore. Bring Battlefront into the current gen, complete with jaw-dropping visuals, replace Wookiees and Stormtroopers with Hobbits and Trolls, and you get the idea.
My demo kicked off to a ferocious start, as my warrior--archer, mage, and scout classes are also available--was tossed into a chaotic battle in Pelennor Fields. As with the Battlefield series, specific objectives need to be captured on a large map. In this case I was tasked with bringing down some siege towers, which was no easy feat given the crowded battlefield before me. Using some basic sword-swinging attacks and cool-looking combos (that I no doubt pulled off accidentally) I was able to cut an impressive swath through hordes of trolls and orcs--all looking appropriately pissed-off and wielding a variety of equally ugly blades and blunt objects. My slicing and dicing skills, however, didn't bring the pain to the screen-dominating oliphants; these tusky behemoths required a bit more skill, specifically getting close enough to them without being flattened by their enormous hooves, and then climbing onto them via a brief minigame. My persistence and patience (I was flattened a few times) paid off, and with the snorting beast successfully scaled, I was able to fell him with a quick button-matching challenge.''