- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 14, 2009

Here’s an abbreviated look at a multimedia title for the teenager in the family.

The Lord of the Rings, Conquest (for Grima Wormtongue again, let alone fight the sniveling weasel, yet the epic, dramatic and violent qualities of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy of films have been extended to another video game adaptation.

This button-mashing maelstrom takes players into the heart of the battles of Middle Earth and reconstructs director Peter Jackson’s cinematic visions.

During third-person solo campaigns, a player fights through such locales as the Mines of Moria, Helm’s Deep and Minis Tirith. His avatar choices include archers, swordsmen and eventually heroes not limited to Gandalf, Legolas and Aragorn.

Once completing the good side of the story, the player can conquer another set of battles as the evil characters in a scenario where Sauron ends up with the one ring.

Action mixes with cut scenes from the film, Uruk Hai and wargs are constant.

Despite the dazzle and highlights such as the joy of bringing down an oliphant, controlling an Ent and being the Balrog, the game still becomes a tedious exercise in hacking and slashing.

Slightly more promising is the two-player cooperative mode and online multiplayer team skirmishes where up to 16 players take to the battlefield. Now if I could just find that passel of warriors.

My advice to parents is buy the books and rent the movies and game to give young teens a well-rounded appreciation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s rich and dynamic fantasy universe.

Moon (for DS from Mastiff and Renegade Kid, $29.99) — A first-person shooter presents a predictable science fiction story but enough action and twists to satisfy the conspiracy theorist as well as the less seasoned gamer.

As Extra-Terrestrial Encounter Organization, the player quickly discovers that in 2058 the moon harbors a deep underground base of alien origin and some deadly secrets.

This micro-Doom-meets-Metroid-Prime works thanks to incredibly responsive controls, handy maps, foreboding three-dimensional environments (including numerous claustrophobic tunnels, no less) and moody sound effects.

The Major splits his time battling an increasingly complex set of techno organic creatures while communicating with Earth and tapping into computer terminals to expose the mystery.

The DS displays the action on the top screen and uses the lower for controls. Dragging the stylus on the lower command screen turns the Major around, aims his weapon and allows easy access to his accumulating arsenal. The directional pad moves him and the left trigger fires impressive arms such as a quanta rifle (the premier organic matter dissolver) or seeker pods (a heavy armor neutralizer).

The ability to control a remote access reconnaissance droid to sneak though tight areas and bring down shields along with driving a LOLA vehicle on the surface keeps the exploration varied.

For the lunar experience, a player should pop on headphones, turn off the lights and then enter this PG-13 mission. It’s a Ridley Scott-style package, wrapped in retro design and is as much an adventure as shooter.

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