Plenty of games are receiving remakes and remasters at the moment. The Last of Us is perhaps the most prominent example as of late, and if recent stills and screenshots are anything to go by, the process has worked wonders on what was already a visual treat. EA’s iconic sci-fi horror game DeadSpace is slated for a remake set to drop in 2023, while Resident Evil 4easily one of the most influential action horror titles of all time, is also set to be rejuvenated for the current console generation next year.
It seems obvious then that there is a huge market for nostalgia. Studios and developers are clearly keen to make use of players’ affection for old properties. One prime candidate for the treatment is what many consider the best Lord of the Rings games of all time, EA Redwood’s exceptionally enjoyable hack and slash Return of the King tie in With an upcoming Amazon Prime series set to drop in mid-to-late 2022, now is the perfect time to exploit two convergent market trends.
The appetite is certainly there. The Lord of the Rings continues to defy age to easily remain one of the most profitable cross-media brands ever, outstripped perhaps only by star Wars and a few superhero properties in terms of universal appeal and acclaim. Since the movies debuted at the turn of the Millennium, LOTR has never dropped from the collective public consciousness, be it via tabletop tie-ins, card games, memes, fan groups, subreddits, and of course, video game adaptations. From the much loved The Shadow of Mordor to the upcoming gollum standalone, fans cannot get enough of Middle-earth.
Two separate fan petitions asking for a REDK remake, both of which gained differing degrees of traction, testify to the desire to see The Lord of the Rings re-licensed by EA so that they can once again take charge of the IP. With around 20,000 cumulative signatures, it’s hardly a bad starting point. With so many games also in the running for remakes, there’s no reason why EA shouldn’t exploit this trend with what promises to be a surefire winner.
They may look a tad outdated to modern eyes, but it’s striking how well both The Two Towers other Return of the King have stood up considering the time that’s elapsed since they debuted more than fifteen years ago. Better yet, Return of the King has an undeniably solid foundation from which to work. Not only is all the lore in place from the film, including many of the most iconic battles and sequences, but the original game was also an incredible blast to play. Whether smashing through hordes of enemies when making a stand at The Black Gate or escaping from Osgiliath as the Nazgul approach, REDK transferred Jackson’s sense of scale to the gaming world with aplomb.
Better yet, REDK‘s trump card was that it allowed players to play as their favorite characters from the movies, each with their own unique abilities, attributes, and styles of fighting. Playing as Gandalf while he wielded his staff and sword was a totally different experience to smoothly slashing through enemies with Legolas’ dual blades or hewing orcs with Gimli’s brutal ax. Surely there’s real scope for expanding on these movesets and characters while also staying true to Tolkien’s original vision.
A remake wouldn’t need too much work to recapture the spirit of the original. The combat would only need a few minor tweaks to be made a little smoother and more varied, but the use of chained attacks and special moves were perfectly in keeping with the rest of the game’s arcade-infused, hack-and-slash style. A complete visual rehaul would be needed, especially considering that this was a time when characters didn’t even move their mouths when they spoke, but next-gen graphics could make the greatest battles from REDK truly monumental.
the Return of the King was irrepressibly fun. Few other movie-to-video game tie-ins of the early and mid-2000s captured the spirit of the art as this title did. Modern gamers may be cynical of the idea of a tie-in game, especially given the reputation of studios being out to only make money, but there is still a case to be made for reinvigorating old properties that are beginning to show their age. Tolkien’s work is undoubtedly timeless, and this is a great chance for a new generation of fans to engage with perhaps the greatest fantasy story ever imagined.