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Shadows of Angmar
A new MMORPG is set to open in May 2007. Out of curiosity I took it for a spin during the open beta period of April. As you can see from the images the game is very pretty graphically. The game play, however, was just more the same. If you have played a MMORPG before, they you’ve played the Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar. There is not much new here.
One of the first areas you may visit as you begin your adventures is Brie. An area of green rolling hils.
A nice graphic touch — the grass moves as if blown by a breeze.
One of your first missions is to protect sheep. Well, every hero has to start some where.
Notice how the sheep casts a shadow. A few years ago a touch of reality like that would be too much for processors to handle.
Quest givers are identified by a ring over their head.
Nice water effects — I will have to take a dip later.
Every MMORPG has its share of nasty mobs. This spider is kind of creepy. Again notice the shadows — each leg casts its own.
The buildings in LOTRO are adequate but I did not find them all that impressive. One of the benefits of World of Warcraft’s art direction approach is the ability to be fanciful in the environmental architecture. For me awe-inspiring is more important than realistic interpretation.
The snow-covered area where elves and dwarves start their adventures.
This is Ramekinwalk, my elf Lore Master. The Raven is her first pet. She is facing the sun.
Now the sun is behind her — environmental lighting is very prominent in LOTRO.
Gandalf had to save my bacon in a scripted end to one of my quests.
Scripted events are common for many of the quests in LOTRO. In some cases you have only one choice — finish the quest or remain in limbo. Advancing to a new area comes only after you have completed quests for the current area. For many players, such a restriction is too limiting and counts as a demerit for the game.
What a lovely day for questing.
Dwarves like to make statues of themselves.
That’s Thorin’s Great Hall up the stairs. I have to complete more quests before I can graduate to that area.
The clean mountain air is good for the lungs.
My first foray into Rivendale.
This is one area that disappointed me. Rivendale’s beauty should take your breath away — but it looks pretty ordinary.
Recognize any constellations in the night sky?
The bad guys have blocked our path with fire. My task was to put out the fire with my bucket of water.
Watch out! I’ve got a bucket and I’m not afraid to use it.
More dwarven statues.
Notice the ligting effects.
In Thorin’s Great Hall the floors are so smooth you can see your reflection. This is a significant graphical leap requiring a large amount of processing power. I wonder how much lag will be present when there are hundreds of players standing here?
Another example of dynamic effects and their interpay with each other. In this single shot we have water rippling, refracting light, reflecting surfaces, and a shadow. Very impressive.
This is my first look at The Shire. Once again, despite the great strides LOTRO has made in the rendering of graphics, the presentation of something as well known and as beloved as The Shire is lacking in imagination. It all seems so ordinary.
One of the local Hobbit inhabitants.
At least the remembered the round doors.
It’s pretty, but shouldn’t there be more?
This is Rivendale at night.
Full moon rising.
Overall, I thought The Lord of the Rings: Shadows of Angmar was well done at the technical level. There was some lag during the open beta, but that was to be expected. But while the technical presentation is top notch, the imagination of the fantasy world of Middle Earth seems so pedestrian. I expected to be awed by the spectacle of the world, not under whelmed.