Well, I started playing this during beta, and to be honest I liked it quite a bit. There were always people to group with, people chatting often in random locations. Not hard to find someone to group with either. Even with all that, it was rare to find someone that was, well, an ass. Though I stopped after beta since of course I didn't want to bother with paying for it at the time, since I wasn't sure if i would stick with it or not.
Time has passed, and I'm back at it again, trying a 7 day trial, there are quite a bit of changes too it now. Some good, some not so good.
I have to say, the graphics are still as great as ever. There are close to no graphical bugs as far as I can tell. Though there seems to be a lot of blocky parts of the game. Now of course for most of the game play I had the settings lowered to help decrease lag when needed. The characters look great, the monsters aren't too bad either. There isn't much I can say other then it looks great.
Combat/ Controls: 7/10
Well, I have minimal complaints about the combat and controls. The controls are great, at least as great as you can get with keyboard movements. You have the standard W A S D controls. You also can strafe around, which I personally don't use. A feature I do like, is right clicking while moving forward or some where and dragging to move. I'm not quite sure why I enjoy that feature, but in any game it's in I use it often.
The combat, is a little iffy. The combat is nice with an array of skills. I think it's a nice touch that you get either a passive or active skills, close to every level. You can head to a trainer for your class and purchase one.
Though the combat in general is a quite nice. You can parry, block, even some skills require you to block a hit or parry a hit to use it. Though the combat may seem a little slow at time, it makes it easier to fight a monster your level, or below, to minimize HP loss( or morale as the game calls it). Beyond the skills you can do a basic attack on the target, but for some classes you truthfully don't have too that often. That is due to the variety of skills you have.
Also, some classes get the ability to have a pet. Lore Master is one I have played (though I have played all of them) more then the rest. You gain a raven at level 4, which will always be one level lower then you. It's quite nifty due to it takes the mob away from you at first, and it has a skill that makes the enemy weaker against fire (which you use a lot ). A long with a passive bonus that as long as you are near the raven, and anyone in your group is near you, you get the bonus. You also get a bear at a higher level.
Role Play Ability 9.8/10
I do not role play. More or less do I really care about it. Though due to the nature of this game I have to add this into the review.
This game is based off LOTR books, If you can't role play in this game, you should just give up in general.
(That statement is based off of beta, due to the lack of people this time around. So I gave this one a pity score, sort of. I just don't want people yelling at me for giving it a low score if i were to base it off of now. Which in all honesty wouldn't be that fair, the game makes it easy for you to pick a role and go on with it. With it's crafting ability, classes, titles etc. It's very simple to make your own character and play along with the story. Even in beta the characters often interacted if they were just normal people in Middle-Earth. So it really does deserve the score, I just have to base it off of beta to achieve most of the score).
If you like quests, you will like this game.
You basically level off of quests during the game. The quests, range quite a bit. You may have a lot of " go kill these mobs for something" quests for a while. Then you get some "Go collect these" quests. So it's not always the same basic quests straight through, but it still does get slightly annoying. I personally like quests, thats why I enjoyed this game so much during beta. Though considering it's not worth it to just hop off and grind on mobs. Though it isn't very useful, you can get some extra exp and level up a little early they you would if you just did quests.
Even with that, there are things I like greatly.
When you start the game, you get thrown into a race specific starting quest that lets you explore some of the story line and get to know the game.
Then again at level 5 (though I'm always level 6 when doing this quest..) you do another one which follows up on the story line you are doing. They are all quite interesting and I praise them for that.
I have to say, they did OK with the connection on the game. The only time I ever lag, and this is graphic based, is when I'm getting in range of new objects and they load. Though even then I don't lag noticeably. I really like what they did here, even in semi-crowded areas of players I don't experience any lag. Though there are random spurts of lag here and there, but that is common with any game.
Though, between certain parts of the game, like the start up, and important things. You have a little movie, the sound seems to lag on it a little. Which I know it's just my computer, but I don't really watch them any way.
This is where the score took a hit. I'm not sure if i just had an unlucky experience, but the community took a big dent out of the score.
During beta, it was quite easy to see people running around, talking, grouping, among other things. This time, the starting areas and such I was lucky to see more then 2 people at a time. I rarely saw any different people while running around the starting areas. Which also made certain quests harder that required going through crowded mob based areas.
Even in the more city based areas I didn't see anyone. The only place I did see people was at the Harvest Festival spots, and even then it wasn't that many. Speaking of the Harvest Festival, I was looking for the horses, and as soon as I got there she said "5 minutes until the next race" so I just think "Hey I got here just in time, I guess I'm lucky" So I get the quest, run quick and grab a saddle, Get the horse and get on the starting line. Though unknown to me, they had a line set up ( Note this isn't a line that you have to do, it's just a line they apparently set up that some people were following ) but since I didn't know of this at the time, they yelled at me. It was quite amusing through my eyes, they kept yelling "Wow wtf you immature twit (I say twit to censor the true word) i'll get you banned". Hopefully people other then me can see the humor in that statement. So i did the race, got in second, but only by less then a second, I turned to wide on one of the turns.
Though of course after that I left that area.
Though I they still have the same grouping system, which they named fellowships (Ha!). They also have the guild system, kinships (or something of that matter). I haven't quite taken a peak at how those work yet but it seems to be running fine.
I also have noticed the lack of help now, at least compared to the beta. I can see someone asking the same question over and over for easily 15 minutes without an answer. Though of course it's usually one I don't even know so I can't really do much.
I'm not much of a sound person, I never have been. Though I randomly do listen to in game sound.
The music, really isn't that bad. Though I greatly dislike the battle music. I haven't been able to figure out why, but i just dislike it greatly.
The combat sounds are great, you have the blocking and parry-ing sounds, even the skill sounds aren't that bad.
Though the thing i do like, is the instruments. You can learn different instruments and play them with the number keys, pressing Shift or CTRL to get a higher and lower sound to the notes. It's quite interesting and easy to do. There are also players who have made parody of certain songs through the instruments in game.
The classes aren't that bad, they go by the basic sets of classes. Healers, magic user, ranger, etc.
Though they have a bit of a twist on them.
I won't go into detail on all of them , but it's a unique aspect in all of them. They all each can be used by certain races, which makes sense. So, if you and your friends all want to start as the same race, make sure to see if the race has what everyone wants to be.
The Lore Master has magic based, a long with getting to have a pet to help them. They use fire quite a bit and do have some healing abilities. Along with a skill that steals a monsters, or players if you are pvp-ing, Power (MP) and transfers it to you. Of course it doesn't stop draining it even if you have full Power, which is neat during PVP because you can basically leave your enemy dry. Which stops him from using skills.
Then we have the Hunters, which are the bow and arrow users. These guys aren't quite the stereotypical bow and arrow only guys. When a mob gets in close combat range, you pull out a weapon and can feel free to "Lay the smack down" on them with the close range skills. Of course, if you can take them out before they even get to you, that would be better.
Burglar which I haven't quite tried out to be honest. I just never saw much of an appeal of them. Though i have browsed and it seems that they do need a group quite often.
Champions are a neat little class. They have Area of Effect damage (which is usually a small distance in front of them) along with faster attacks. They carry two weapons which fills the need of everyone who likes to hold two weapons.
Captains are the buffer, which I never played in depth. I just dislike the buffer based class due to the fact I don't like being relied on during battles. Though they do get a pet them selves at later levels.
Guardians are a form of tank. They have a shield and a sword, and they are quire useful. They have better HP, and have a lot of skills that pull mobs on to you and off anyone else. Some skills also attack with the shield (which I like ).
Minstrel, I never played in depth either due to the reasons already stated for Captain, but it's a healer class. You fight with a weapon most of the time, and you pull a lute out of no where and you can heal players.
I know I'm forgetting some things, but I'm running short on time.
This game is quite good, and i would suggest picking it up if you like pretty graphics and lots of quests. If you can find a group of buddies to hang out with while playing that will make it much more enjoyable. Though It may have just been unlucky for me at the time being while I played.
It doesn't cost that much, though you have to pay for a new one even after the trial download (as far as I can tell, correct me if I'm wrong ) which is $30. Then you get a free 30 days, then after that you pay the standard $15 (or one of the other bundle payment methods).