As a massive fan of The Lord of the Rings, I’ve spent more than a year waiting for the release of The Lord of the Rings: Gollum. While I always expected that making a game around one of the weakest characters in Tolkien’s world would be difficult, I couldn’t have imagined just how bad of a premise it could be, until now.
As you’ve likely seen, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum has already been subjected to a barrage of negative reviews, with most reviewers agreeing that not only is the game a technical mess but also a vastly dull waste of time. Looking through the PlayStation and Xbox store reviews, it seems like most players who pre-ordered the game are already started to regret it.
While we always try and look at the positives of every game, there are the rare occasions where finding anything positive to write about a game is near impossible, but sadly, as you’re about to find out, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is one of those rare cases.
A Next-Gen Game With Retro Graphics
Being built with the Unreal Engine, you would expect The Lord of the Rings: Gollum to be a graphical masterpiece. In fact, if nothing else, you would expect the graphics to at least be on par with most other games built on this impressive engine.
Unfortunately, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum doesn’t look like a high-budget triple-A game at all. It looks like it was designed for the PS3 or Xbox 360 at best.
While graphics aren’t everything, as games like Valheim have shown us in the past, the sheer awful textures, level design, and frankly overly vibrant colors take away from any immersion the game could possibly offer. Gollum himself looks nothing at all like Gollum from the movies but instead looks like a chav (Link to chav definition for our American readers) you would find loitering around a McDonalds, sporting a hoody and wearing Burberry.
You would think with the graphics being so underwhelming, the game would run with silky smooth FPS, but, yeah, you would be wrong, oh so very wrong.
The game offers two graphics presets for the console versions of the game, performance, and quality. Playing the game in quality mode reminded me of playing Ark Survival Evolved on the Nintendo Switch. Frames would constantly drop, the game would stutter for no apparent reason, and any immersion that the game could offer is destroyed by poor performance.
Some may believe changing the game to performance mode would help improve FPS, but weirdly it doesn’t, it just offers the same poor performance, but this time with slightly worse graphics.
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum’s Gameplay… Or Lack Of
If you’ve ever seen any of The Lord of the Rings, or The Hobbit movies, you will know that Gollum is an interesting character, who is played impeccably by Andy Serkis, but while he might be an interesting character, he is also one that lacks much ability, strength, intelligence, or any feature that really offers much in the way of entertainment as a game.
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum essentially has no combat beyond the occasional strangling of a smaller opponent, which already makes it much less interesting than Shadow of War and Shadow of Mordor.
Instead of combat, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum focuses on stealth, which usually isn’t a bad thing when it has been done right. Games like Assassin’s Creed have been making stealth fun for years now, without being boring. But that’s the issue with The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, the stealth is simply boring and poorly executed.
Much of the game centers around Sméagol, aka Gollum, hiding in tall grass, with extremely poor AI that seems to either detect even the slightest movement or completely ignore you, even when you are being blatantly obvious.
Oh, and Gollum has X-ray vision now, I’m not really sure how or why, he just does. He can now see through walls like some form of ring-addicted, hunchback Superman with an agenda to find lost jewelry.
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum reminds me of a bygone era, when game developers would jump onto any IP they could, making a half-baked game with little thought, hoping they could profit simply from the brand name alone.
The graphics are dated, the gameplay is boring, and the audio is average at best. But worst of all is the return to the old find that luminous yellow ledge to jump up to the next platform, dated style of gameplay. If I’m playing a stealth game about Gollum, I want to be able to forge my own path, explore, and most of all sneak around some filthy Hobbitses.
I have to admit, while I’ve wondered for some time how they would keep an entire game about Gollum interesting, I have been excited for the game’s release, if nothing else, to see how they’ve handled his weakness.
Sadly, they haven’t handled it well at all. The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is a dull platformer that does nothing to justify the cost. It is plagued with performance issues, dull gameplay, or any redeemable feature that could keep me hooked for more than a few minutes at a time.
I even gave it some extra time before working on the review, hoping that if nothing else, at least the performance issues would be fixed, but after further testing, it’s still as bad as day one.