Metascore
85

Generally favorable reviews - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 31
  2. Negative: 1 out of 31
Buy On
  1. 89
    A modern day "Golden Axe", but ratcheted up to massive levels of production. With excellent sound, graphics, and theatrical work bolstering it, Return of the King is a hardcore gamers' game with tremendous mass market appeal.
  2. It's still a relatively simple and short action game at heart, but a solid combat system, some extremely intense and cinematic levels, cool extras that fans of the movies will enjoy, and the option to play cooperatively with a friend all add up to make The Return of the King deserving of its name.
  3. There is so much to do, and players will be drawn into the game, and it won't let them go until they unlock everything. This is the best movie to game conversion that has come out in a long time.
  4. Offers some amazing visual effects and locations that will blow your mind, and it still remains a blueprint for movie video games. [Dec 2003, p.130]
  5. 90
    It's one of the finest crossover titles I've ever played; mainstream gamers will enjoy it for its excellent use of the movie license, sharp visuals, and easy-to-pickup gameplay, but it also has enough challenge and variety for hardcore players to soak up.
  6. It's a surprisingly deep, involving and intense hackandslash experience that belies its apparent simplicity.
  7. It’s bigger, longer and smarter than The Two Towers.
  8. 90
    The controls for all versions do a masterful job of managing the fierce action. Even in battle so pitched that you literally lose sight of your character amid the multitudinous combatants, you still feel you’re the master of your fate.
  9. 90
    Minor camera issues aside, Return of the King is a refreshing example of competent licensing melded with the hack'n'slashery we all know and love.
  10. Edge Magazine
    80
    If you take away the window dressing, the epic sounds and the preordained surprises this is a derivative, one-note and sometimes flawed game, but see it as a spectacular amusement ride and you can play and it's a distinguished achievement. [Christmas 2003, p.110]
  11. 80
    But the exhilaration can quickly turn to frustration, perhaps hyperventilation, if you repeatedly fail some of the game's tougher missions.
  12. Play Magazine
    91
    Few games are as excitingly presented, as gorgeously constructed, as intensely visceral as the extraordinary The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. [Dec 2003, p.52]
  13. Does a fantastic job of putting you into the world of the movie through its graphically stunning reproductions of the film's war-torn sets, smooth transitions from thriling cinema clips, into exciting gameplay, [and] top-notch voice work. [Dec 2003, p.181]
  14. 80
    Rife with action and bursting at the seams with bonus content, the title will also go down in history as one of the most intense products ever created for hobbyists' consumption.
  15. Overall there's more to do and experience in Return of the King than in The Two Towers, but consequently this tends to frustrate more than please.
  16. The combat system is extremely shallow, and Gamestyle can find little in depth to favourably commend it.
  17. King is the best, most synergetic convergence of film and videogame I've ever seen. It turns Two Towers' wow factor into an emphatic "holy freaking crap!"
  18. PSM Magazine
    80
    A beautiful hack-and-slasher that lives up to the considerable scope and grandeur of the filmic source material. [Holiday 2003, p.32]
  19. The game’s technical flaws are minor, and the game’s only other negative point is that it’s somewhat short.
  20. This is without a doubt the best game based on a book/movie that I have EVER played. You can really tell that EA went to great pains to ensure its authenticity, and they truly went beyond the call of duty this time.
  21. The presentation is just outstanding. It's just a shame that the gameplay was a little off, and that you couldn't skip the movie cutscenes.
  22. EA has done an exceptional job creating a game around the movie, and their efforts are certainly deserving of your attention.
  23. A tremendous achievement. Genuinely exciting and immersive but not without its faults. A hack-'n'-slash treat, if slightly repetitive. [PSM2]
  24. The closest an interactive experience has come to re-enacting the utter chaos and undeniable fun that is being a part of an ongoing epic battle in which you (alongside either a friend or a complete stranger online) play an important role.
  25. 89
    They have concentrated on distilling the best action they can out of Tolkein's, (or should that now be Jackson's) masterpiece and presenting it in a well executed package. Lord of the Ring fans could surely want for nothing more this Christmas.
  26. Takes everything The Two Towers did well and improves upon it in every way.
  27. GameNow
    100
    The graphics are first rate, and the action is intensely frenetic. Most important, ROTK turns up the LOTR authenticity full blast. [Jan 2004, p.55]
  28. Entertainment Weekly
    83
    Fans will find much to enjoy, but don't blame us if you're as haggard as Gollum by the time you actually finish the game. [19 Dec 2003, p.L2T 20]
  29. The two-player cooperative mode is the real star of the show, overshadowing the online play that the PS2 version offers, and is the one critical feature the first game so desperately needed.
  30. Weekly Famitsu
    75
    8 / 7 / 8 / 7 - 30 silver [Vol 786]
  31. Switch between the game’s three passages—the Paths of the King, Wizard, and Hobbit—to hack levels tailored to each character’s quirks. Or better yet, stick with one and build up his abilities—cutting through the Orc-etc.

Awards & Rankings

#42 Most Discussed PS2 Game of 2003
#23 Most Shared PS2 Game of 2003
User Score
8.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 110 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 35
  2. Negative: 4 out of 35
  1. Nov 22, 2013
    10
    I give very few games a ten but going back and playing this game again ten years later, I am reminded how a truly brilliant co-op game canI give very few games a ten but going back and playing this game again ten years later, I am reminded how a truly brilliant co-op game can give my friends and I a more fulfilling experience than many available today. Full Review »
  2. Dec 30, 2016
    3
    What is this monstrosity? Controls are everywhere, gameplay is laggy and it feels clunky and like a cash grab to exploit the movie.What is this monstrosity? Controls are everywhere, gameplay is laggy and it feels clunky and like a cash grab to exploit the movie. Unstoppable cutscenes were just the end for me. Full Review »
  3. Apr 17, 2016
    10
    I give very few games a ten but going back and playing this game again ten years later, I am reminded how a truly brilliant co-op game canI give very few games a ten but going back and playing this game again ten years later, I am reminded how a truly brilliant co-op game can give my friends and I a more fulfilling experience than many available today. Full Review »