A Mesmerizing Journey: The Lord of the Rings: Gollum Unveiled

A Mesmerizing Journey: The Lord of the Rings: Gollum Unveiled

Sometimes, an event or character can have a profound impact on its original fiction but may not be the right choice for a dedicated spotlight project. The Lord of the Rings: Gollum exemplifies this, as it fundamentally misunderstands the appeal of its source franchise by focusing on a character who, by most measures, is ill-suited for a leading role. While it’s possible to imagine a game that could make the unusual premise work, this is not that project. Much like its miserable and pitiful protagonist, this game is best avoided at all costs.

Gollum follows the story of the titular character during the period between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, primarily focusing on his enslavement and mistreatment in Mordor, as well as his escape to pursue the precious ring. Unfortunately, the game’s drab colors, emphasis on cruel and unappealing characters, and task-oriented gameplay clash with the core principles and themes of Tolkien’s fiction. Even without its connection to the revered legendarium, the storytelling is poorly paced, meandering, and often incoherent. The initial promise of exploring the Gollum and Smeagol duality remains unfulfilled and fails to make a meaningful impact.

The gameplay is predominantly divided between linear traversal sequences and clunky, uninteresting stealth sections. The platforming elements suffer from imprecise jumping, poorly designed stages that fail to indicate viable paths, and a cumbersome or even broken camera that flips upside down during climbing or refuses to rotate for essential jumps. I frequently died due to seemingly easy jumps or incorrectly guessing the next platform’s location. The only slight respite comes from frequent checkpoints that alleviate the frustration of constant repetition.

Ironically, I found myself yearning for the platforming segments whenever the game transitioned to its numerous stealth sequences. Unlike modern stealth games, Gollum lacks interesting mechanics or tools to enhance these sections. The slippery protagonist can only clumsily sneak past unbelievably dim-witted guards, along paths where it’s difficult to discern whether you’ll be spotted. There’s no sense of mastery or control over the environment. Once again, respawns are constant, and reloading to the last checkpoint becomes a test of endurance.

Technical issues and poor implementation further mar the experience. Sound mixing often hampers voice clarity, character faces (excluding Gollum) are poorly animated or non-existent, and on-screen figures move in awkward synchrony reminiscent of early PS2 games. Textures are muddy and lacking in detail. On multiple occasions, objectives failed to function or appear, with no respawning upon restarting from a checkpoint. Only redoing the entire level would resolve the issue.

Throughout my playthrough, I constantly grappled with frustrating controls, an unwieldy camera, and confusing objectives. Regrettably, the story and characters of The Lord of the Rings: Gollum offer no compelling reasons to endure these hardships. As a longtime fan of Tolkien’s fiction, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed by the game’s misuse of the source material. It’s disheartening to say that this Gollum game isn’t tailored for fans of The Lord of the Rings, but unfortunately, that’s the reality we’re faced with.

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