The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Xbox


Generally favorable reviews - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 31
  2. Negative: 0 out of 31
Buy On
  1. 87
    The hack-and-slash action game is still very much just that, a twitchy combo-fest derived from arcade sensibilities, but now it's surrounded by a superior level of production quality that cannot be mistaken, it's got co-op, and it's filled with interactive backgrounds and newly playable characters.
  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. With its gorgeous visuals and amazing sound, the game brilliantly brings the film and Tolkien's vision to life.
  4. Even if you don't look up to J.R.R. Tolkien as a literary god, Return of the King is one hell of a play. [Dec 2003, p.173]
  5. Cheat Code Central
    The graphics virtually rival the movie and a two-player co-op mode gives the game good replay value making this game a worthwhile pursuit. Although relatively short, The Return of the King is short on story and long on action.
  6. 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.
  7. It's bigger, longer and smarter than "The Two Towers."
  8. 90
    A nicely executed adventure worth fighting for, just be prepared to suffer inglorious defeats until you get used to the game cam.
  9. 90
    The core of the game is based on this frenetic, nonstop action that propels you from one area to the next, and it is this same sense of mayhem-driven progress that can allow a non-fan like myself to have such a good time.
  10. games(TM)
    It's considerably better than last year's sorry attempt but there's still plenty of room for improvement. [Christmas 2003, p.127]
  11. Edge Magazine
    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]
  12. Official Xbox Magazine
    The high degree of difficulty is one of the few problems with this otherwise brilliant game...Still may be the best movie license game ever made. [Jan 2004, p.81]
  13. Play Magazine
    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]
  14. Electronic Gaming Monthly
    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]
  15. 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.
  16. Insufferably bi-polar difficulty levels attacks that can't be repelled or escaped from no matter your skill and combat because your stuck on the ground in a death loops is something so lacking in grace that it numbs you.
  17. Improves upon last year's hack-and-slash fest in every single aspect. The multiplayer action is incredibly fun, but it does take time to get adjusted to the camera angles. The camera isn't too much of a problem in the single-player game, but still provides a few quirks that will cause some frustration.
  18. 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.
  19. The game doesn't live up to the qualities resplendent in either the book or the movies, but it's still a technically competent game and fun to play.
  20. Newcomers may find themselves a bit overwhelmed by the story, and fans may hate the spoilers, but otherwise, you'll find this game's as deep as, well, Helm's Deep. Even deeper than that.
  21. Takes everything The Two Towers did well and improves upon it in every way.
  22. A pure celebration of the movies that inspired it. It is a terrific action game with a degree of depth and a great collection of surprises to collect. The game is also peerless in the presentation department and you can play it with a friend.
  23. Rarely does a game boast this sort of cinematic appeal while actually being fun to play, but Return of the King delivers.
  24. 90
    While it lacks a lot of actual scenes from the new film (it uses more footage from the Two Towers and the Fellowship of the Ring with Gandalf doing voiceovers), it still tells the final part of the story and will spoil many facets of the film.
  25. By combining the same addictive button-mashing core of its predecessor with better visuals, better level design, more dynamic gameplay (thanks to the scripted events that drive the levels), and a multiplayer co-op mode, Return of the King is an exceptionally well-produced game.
  26. Xbox Nation Magazine
    Basically an all-you-can-kill, hack-and-slash buffet from start to finish. [Dec/Jan 2004, p.82]
  27. How do you make a succesful movie to video game transformation? There have been many and many have failed to truly capture the movie that they're based on. I really don't know how you do this but I can tell you that Electronic Arts sure does.
  28. Entertainment Weekly
    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. Seat of the pants gameplay makes it a winner. Despite difficult segments, it's still rather short... but like the Two Towers it's almost as much an event as a game.
  30. 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.
  31. From the large selection of unlockable extras to the wealth of documentaries and bonus characters, every conceivable base has been covered. In reaching these lofty heights so easily, Return of the King has shamed virtually every other half baked movie adaption ever released.

Awards & Rankings

#38 Most Discussed Xbox Game of 2003
#26 Most Shared Xbox Game of 2003
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 34 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 16
  2. Negative: 0 out of 16
  1. Aug 22, 2013
    Lord of the rings return of the king is with no doubt probably the best movie based game out there and heres why
    pros: gameplay, graphics are
    Lord of the rings return of the king is with no doubt probably the best movie based game out there and heres why
    pros: gameplay, graphics are actually pretty good for an xbox game, audio, voice acting (gandalf is voiced by Ian Mckellen so you know its good once you hear) cooperative gameplay, recreations of awesome scenes from the movie, playing as characters from the movies like frodo sam faramir and all the other guys but face it we all want to play as legolas gimli gandalf and aragorn
    cons: camera control, saving only after a mission is done, short length, why cant i play co op in the path of the hobbits theres Frodo AND Sam why isn't there co op there?!?
    Full Review »
  2. IamNlCK
    Jun 25, 2006
    I give it up to EA for actually putting some effort into one of their movie licenses. Nice playing as the different classes, and well mapped I give it up to EA for actually putting some effort into one of their movie licenses. Nice playing as the different classes, and well mapped out fighting system. Great job working in exclusive cast interviews, movie clips, artwork to reward you as you play. Can get a little intensely repetitive in some of the levels. Fighting off hundreds of orcs as a hobbit can become kind of overwhelming. It would have been cool to have some rpgish elements, or choosing where you go...instead of just fighting your way from A to B. Overall, very fun, especially for LOTR fans. Full Review »
  3. NathanH.
    May 27, 2005
    Similar in many ways to the Two Towers Game, I found Return of the King to be rather repetitive and boring. The graphics are beautiful and Similar in many ways to the Two Towers Game, I found Return of the King to be rather repetitive and boring. The graphics are beautiful and controls are responsive, but I did not enjoy the game. Full Review »