To start off I would like to save that Lord of the Rings is my all time favorite trilogy. This game does an awesome job of capturing the feeling of the third and final movie. The game takes you from Helm's Deep all the way to the fiery chasm of Mt. Doom. You will be able to use Aragorn, Gandalf, Legolas, Gimli, Frodo, and Sam while completing the game. There are unlockable characters in this game - sorry, can't spoil it. Now to the review.
Gameplay: This game has great gameplay. This time around the developers made much better combos to unleash on the orcs. Also, the computer AI is much smarter. Plus, I know everyone wanted this for the Return of the King, TWO PLAYER! You read that right. You can now play with your buddy instead of having to play alone or take turns. Although, one bad thing about two player is the fact that you and your friend can only go a certain distance away from each other. The two player camera is also questionable sometimes. Enemies will jump out of the side of the screen without you realizing it and harm you. One point I have to stress as a good thing for gameplay is longer levels. In the Two Towers the levels were very short and you did not really have that many enemies to kill compared to the Return of the King. The gameplay is solid, but not perfect.
Graphics: This game has a very stunning look to it. From the character models all the way to the beautiful surroundings, this game does it all in the graphics department. The characters from the movie look awesome. They look just like their actor/actress counterparts. Also, EA did a nice job with character clothing. They match nicely as they did in the movies. I am glad that EA added the elven cloaks. One major plus is that at the Black Gate Aragorn wears his Gondor clothes. This was pretty cool to me. I simply love the graphics in this game.
Learning Curve: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is not that hard to pick up and play. Most of the time you can get away with simple button mashing. This drags down the game just a bit. One of the combos is just pushing X four times. That combo will take out a lot of unshielded foes very quickly. All in all this is an easy game to play. I try to use the combos effectively, it just makes the game more fun.
Replay Value: Personally, I think that replay value really depends on how much of a Lord of the Rings fan you are. I have beaten the game at least 10 times. I have played it on easy, medium, and hard. There is not much difference between them. The game is very fun, but will get old fast for a person that does not like the trilogy very much. I suggest a rent for these people. As for the big time fans of the trilogy, I say it is worth every dollar that you spend.
Sound: I love the sound in this game. When you play the game it sounds like you are in a real battle. When you strike a foe with your sword it sounds like it would it real life - kind of a loud clank noise. When you shoot a bow the bowstring the sound is lifelike also. As for the music in the game, it is very well done. As you play the music pumps you up and you just can not stop playing this game. I would know, I beat the game for the first time the exact same day that I got it. Once again, the sound is amazing.
Other: One cool addition to the game is fellowship upgrades. You can buy upgrades for the entire fellowship instead of just for one member. They are a bit more expensive, but they do save you points in the end. Another is the palantir levels. They have a Sauron and Saruman palantir level that are unlocked after you beat the game. I also like the actor interviews and concept art that opens up as you play this game. If I had to rate this game on a scale of one to ten with ten being the highest I would give this game an impressive 8.5 out of 10. It is a must have.