As longtime die-hard followers of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings film trilogy, we had no concept simply how shut we got here to getting a LOTR online game, again within the 2000s, that to our eyes seems to be just like the one that may’ve dominated all of them.
However because of newly-shared footage from the never-made, never-named sport, we’re fairly gobsmacked at simply how devoted to the films (and surprisingly refined, even by as we speak’s gameplay requirements) the mission was, whilst a demo. Jon Burton, co-founder of growth studio Traveller’s Tales (identified principally for video games based mostly on the LEGO and Sonic the Hedgehog franchises), has simply shared a tantalizing video that exhibits off snippets from the sport’s pitch demo — and based mostly on the footage, it actually Stings (ahem) that the mission by no means went additional.
Decided to increase Traveller’s Tales’ growth chops past LEGO and Sonic spinoffs, Burton took on the concept of a LOTR sport as a ardour mission. Accordingly, the studio dumped a ridiculous quantity of assets into working up a highly-polished pitch demo — solely to have Warner Bros., in response to Burton, go on the sport after each Jackson and Guillermo del Toro (who was additionally concerned within the mission) had given it their blessing.
By way of Burton’s GameHut channel, the gameplay footage begins across the 1:30 mark within the YouTube clip under:
Developed to run on an Xbox 360, this must be probably the most high-octane demos by no means to yield a whole sport, and it’s shortly evident simply how film-faithful and virtually photorealistic an homage it’s to the locations, occasions, and even solid members from Jackson’s film trilogy. Frodo is clearly the Elijah Wooden Frodo whom followers know and love, and when Gandalf and Saruman face off, it’s unmistakably a battle between the Ian McKellen and Christopher Lee variations.
With Sting firmly in hand, Frodo will get to sneak by way of the woods in a pair of stealth ranges that make head-on combating the choice our hero does finest to keep away from — however luckily, Traveller’s Tales packed loads of different sneaky instruments into his bag of methods. “Playing as Frodo, you could sneak, hide, throw rocks to district the Uruk-hai, climb trees, use your senses to focus in on enemies, jump from trees onto enemies, and even try and fight them directly — against the odds,” Burton explains, as Frodo skulks his manner by way of the woods.
Getting noticed by the Nazgûl in one other stealth stage arms Frodo a quandary acquainted to anybody who’s seen the films: he has to withstand the temptation to only placed on the ring (and undergo its energy) to get out of a brief jam. And one more highly-polished stage exhibits off an epic rendering of the Isengard combat between Gandalf and Saruman. “You could cast spells, deflect attacks, and throw Saruman around the room,” says Burton. Gandalf additionally goes face to face towards the Balrog on the Bridge of Khazad-dûm in one other fiery set piece.
The studio additionally labored up demo footage of Aragorn in close-quarters sword fight towards the Uruk-hai, in addition to Frodo and Sam evading the Nazgûl (this time with Frodo utilizing the ring, full with a screen-changing white-out impact), and even a mo-cap cutscene between Sam and Frodo at Rivendell, completed to point out how the sport would “recreate moments from the film.”
“We basically went way too far, and spent way too much money making this demo,” Burton says within the clip. “But I really wanted to show what we could do just beyond the LEGO games.”
We’d say that’s mission achieved — after which some. “Considering this was all running on the Xbox 360, I think it holds up pretty well over a decade later,” he provides, and it’s laborious to argue the purpose. We don’t know what the big-budget gaming future holds for The Lord of the Rings, but when ever somebody (possibly Amazon?) needs to maneuver ahead with a AAA sport that will get the gang again collectively from the movie trilogy, Traveller’s Tales’ superb demo has already set the bar excessive.