On LOTRO, and the free trial thereof

By Alec Meer on August 30th, 2007 at 9:44 am.

Lord of the Rings Online is a queer fish, critically speaking. Most reviewers with half a brain about them were entirely concious of just how unashamed a World of Warcraft clone it was (those without just shouted “it’s got Gandalf in it!”), presenting something of a dilemma. Do we kick it for not trying very hard at all, or do we celebrate it for, as a result, being accessible and characterful in a way most other MMORPGs aren’t? It’s a game without true purpose other than to make money; it scientifically assessed what people wanted right now and did them, adding almost nothing of its own.

Of course it was going to be a huge success.

Suffering growing disillusionment with WoW, a friend and I made a foolish decision to flee to LOTRO a few months back, hoping we’d be able to recapture the early joy and wonder of getting lost and not quite understanding what was happening. Too late; our brains were permanently altered by years of WoW, and we saw LOTRO’s over-familiar dynamics through mechanical eyes. There was no buffoonish working anything out required – almost everything was as plain as the stupid fat noses on our stupid fat hobbit faces. Realising there was currently nothing new under the sun, that was the end of LOTRO, and also the end of WoW for me.

In a reality where I never formed a strong attachment to a green-pigtailed Gnome rogue who rode a mechanical ostrich, it would have been a different matter entirely, and I do wonder what silly hats that hobbit of mine could be wearing now if I’d persevered. I’m given to understand the game’s become its own a little more since those first months, but until I hear of something really spectacular, it’s too late for me. I still consider LOTRO a fascinating entity, as by rights it should be chased off the internet for plagiarism and lack of inspiration, but somehow it actually works pretty well.

If you wanna give it a go, just announced today is a free seven-day trial – unless you’re in Europe, a fact hidden in tiny print on the bottom of the page that you may not notice until you’ve finished downloading 3.9Gb (equivalent to roughly 780 copies of Wolfenstein 3D) of useless client.

Again, the call goes out, and one you’ll read in a lot of our posts about games with communities – if you’d like to contribute anything to the site about why you think LOTRO (or, indeed, any slightly lesser-known online game) is bestest, please get in touch.

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19 Comments »

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  1. Janek says:

    “Copies of Wolfenstein 3D” should become the new standard unit of measurement for computer storage.

  2. arqueturus says:

    I thought it was copies of Doom last time?

    cheers

    arq

  3. Alec Meer says:

    I’m just going to keep going with id games until I hit the ones with silly filesizes, basically.

  4. Martin Coxall says:

    I think we need a definition of silliness that is not dependent on fatness of pipe.

    So, LOTRO then. As a WoW refugee, I assume this is a “more of the same – avoid” scenario?

  5. Simon Westlake says:

    Pretty much, unless you have a great desire to kill 20 wolves for their skins or kill 20 goblins because they raided someones houses etc, etc.

  6. Alec Meer says:

    Or unless you’re the kind of person who collapses in excitement because text reading ‘Gimli’ hovers over Generic-Dwarf-NPC-08’s head.

  7. Boreras says:

    I can’t understand why people keep complaining about copying WoW elements? WoW itself has not in any way contributed anything new in relation to the MMOs that were released before Blizzard’s hit.

    With all due respect, Blizzard itself is quite the copy-paste king. Because they do it a lot, but they do it in a very good way using mostly the good elements making a game that corrects some wrongs of other MMOs (of course, with new “mistakes” introduced). The thing that was better for example with WoW was the whole feeling to it, the ambiance was done in great fashion (for MMO standards)

  8. Alec Meer says:

    Well, that’s the difference between WoW and LOTRO. WoW’s concepts are not even slightly original, but the whole game is as it is because its developers went “how can we do this thing as well as possible?” Whether it is as well as possible is a matter for another debate, but it was good enough for a gazillion people that weren’t playing MMOs beforehand. LOTRO, by contrast, seems to gone “hey, those guys are making loads of money. Let’s just do what they do, but with Tolkien!” There’s no attempt at improvement in it.
    LOTRO is copy and paste. WoW is copy and paste that’s been run through the spellcheck too.

  9. Andrew Farrell says:

    Yeah, but once something’s been run through the spellchecker, you don’t have to do so after copying and pasting it again :)

  10. Andrew Farrell says:

    Also I’m curious about all these games that WoW stole from – I’ve played a lot of them out of curiousity, and I suspect that all the gameplay mechanics that WoW stole weren’t as important as actually making an interface that didn’t suck.

    “Yeah I stole your Orcs, you were using ‘em wrong”

  11. David says:

    http://www.computerandvideogames.com/article.php?id=171045

    For those of us who don’t live in the USA but are interested in trying out LOTRO for free… “Soon” is the rumour.

  12. etho says:

    I tried the beta earlier this year. It was fun. It was like WoW, gameplay-wise, but with a much more pleasant user-base, prettier graphics (cartoons get old quick) and a more interesting setting. It takes place in a world that I have some familiarity and interest in, whereas the universe of WoW, I couldn’t give two shits about. So that’s why I play lotro.

  13. Donna says:

    The EU trial can be found here: http://www.lotro-europe.com/trial.php

    Yea LOTRO took some elements of the WoW gameplay. So what? They took things that worked. If you’re looking for LOTRO to be ground breaking in its gameplay then I think you’re missing the point. It’s Tolkien. Just where do you think WoW stole its concepts from? LOTRO is the grandfather of the fantasy genre.

    Turbine are succeeding in creating a legendary world that many people love. It is a fun game. Like every game it has problems. But there is story there for those who want it, lots of it. So far Turbine have managed to keep to their promise of regular big content updates. I personally worry that game is too finite, but we’ll see.

  14. cheeba says:

    That was subtle.