Generally favorable reviews - based on 38 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 38
  2. Negative: 0 out of 38
Buy On
  1. The game definitely has replay value. You'll want to go back and finish every mission, smite every foe and look for every treasure chest.
  2. A great game that will likely appeal to action gamers more than role-players.
  3. The amazing graphics, phenomenal special effects, voice acting, and of course, the soundtracks from the movies steal the show. Beautiful, rewarding, and brimming with personality.
  4. Even if you despise LOTR, you will love this game, includes all new characters and features.
  5. 88
    It's not quite the free-range RPG that we've been hoping for where we can prance along the fields on horses playing as Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli permanently, but its close enough to make for a great game.
  6. The voice-overs in game are done well, they sound as if you were watching the movie.
  7. Nothing short of impressive. It spans all three films and, not only relates the story that we already know, but also spins a new one too. There are no real areas of weakness here.
  8. 85
    EA Redwood Shores has faithfully recreated everything from the glowing majesty of Rivendell to the murky depths of Helm's Deep. Suffice to say, this is one of the best looking games based on Tolkien's classic trilogy.
  9. I didn't keep track of the time I spent with The Third Age, but one thing's for certain ' you can't beat this game in a few nights.
  10. Game Informer
    Filled with amazing battles and worthy strategy, and anchored by strong gameplay. [Dec 2004, p.166]
  11. A solid RPG experience for anyone even remotely interested in Tolkien's famed trilogy. Newbies will be able to easily navigate the various menus and execute battle commands with ease, and RPG vets will find plenty of depth in the amount of weapons and abilities that each character possesses.
  12. While not immense, the replayability is significant due to increases in difficulty level and the sheer size of the game.
  13. AceGamez
    A stylish RPG that authentically represents Middle Earth from the book and the film trilogy. Whilst the gameplay is both enjoyable and addictive, it is also very traditional in style and does nothing at all to further the genre.
  14. Cheat Code Central
    Gamers weaned on games like "Final Fantasy" who recognize that Tolkien's masterpieces are largely responsible for the genre they love and admire, probably won't be too pleased with the dumbing down of their favorite gaming conventions in The Third Age, but may want to experience the battles nonetheless simply due to their commitment to the subject matter.
  15. It's involving, very, very slick, and you really do feel part of an ongoing quest. Oh yeah, and there's no hobbits either.
  16. However the linear nature of the terrain, lack of depth for the characters and the story means that it doesn't quite get top marks. A solid and entertaining title that simply lacks overall ambition.
  17. 80
    The game lacks the complicated character advancement common in the genre, but it's fast-paced, looks and sounds great, and will keep casual RPG and Lord of the Rings fans happy.
  18. It is, however, a little deceptive to be labeled as a role-playing game. It feels more like a linear turn-based action adventure where you are always moving from one battle to the next.
  19. You have a fun combat system, great character customization, gorgeous graphics, and enthralling audio. But on the other hand, the pathetic story, unbalanced difficulty, repetitive second half of the game, short game length, and unforgivable bugs and glitches really drag down what is largely an enjoyable game to play.
  20. While there are some rough edges, the result is mostly a nice little role-playing jaunt into the world of Tolkien.
  21. 76
    It is a good RPG for the casual gamer and maybe for the Lord of the Rings modern-media fan, but anyone who seriously enjoyed, say, "Xenogears" will have an incredibly difficult time enjoying this little scrap of meat. It's pretty, it sounds nice, and it has all the trappings of a Lord of the Rings product, but it ultimately lacks substance.
  22. A title that's finally worthy of the licence it's based on and in the world of videogames, that's a very rare occurrence.
  23. Unfortunately, the switch to turn-based play also means a severe reduction in how much fun it is to play cooperatively with friends. Basically each person trades off controlling one of the characters you're fighting with, which sounds like more fun than it is.
  24. You will not find much of a challenge, or even a particularly long adventure as far as RPGs are concerned. What you will find is a game that will make you lose track of time, as you will be too engulfed in the experience.
  25. It's too easy. Yes, there's a Hard mode, and Evil mode if you can be bothered to play through it that many times, but if you've got a solid grounding in role-playing games, you'll walk through it.
  26. games(TM)
    Sadly, the adventure itself is far too linear; there's little in the way of side-quests, and you have no freedom over where you go or what you do. If you can overlook this, though, The Third Age does mix a neat battle system with a great franchise to provide a surprisingly enjoyable adventure. [Dec 2004, p.107]
  27. This is a game that will be either loved or hated by fans of both Lord of the Rings and the RPG genre in general.
  28. 70
    For most of the game I felt like I was too powerful and things never really felt challenging. Again, I'm thinking that this is partly by design since the game has a mainstream license and will attract many casual gamers.
  29. Stays faithful to the movie licence and dishes up hour upon hour of orc-slaying fun. It's not really doing anything new as far as RPGs go but, what it does do, it does well. [Official UK Xbox Magazine]
  30. A capable but not spectacular turn-based RPG.
  31. The overlapping storyline, basic role-playing elements and dulled out graphics are crippling downfalls, but even so the game is entertaining.
  32. 70
    It's hard to find fault with the concept behind Third Age; from a marketing perspective, Final Fantasy and LOTR probably seemed like a perfect match. But you can't crudely shoehorn two disconnected franchises together without bringing something unique and worthwhile to the table.
  33. Official Xbox Magazine
    This Frankenstein-like "FF meets LOTR" formula ends up satisfying no one. [Holiday 2004, p.70]
  34. Play Magazine
    Better suited for those who want to play an impressive companion piece to the movies rather than play a compelling RPG. [Dec 2004, p.62]
  35. Electronic Gaming Monthly
    An RPG that deftly copies "Final Fantasy X" but is burdened with a story that plays more like a "deleted scenes" bonus DVD than anything coherent. [Holiday 2004, p.104]
  36. Xbox Nation Magazine
    As a game, it's safe and absolutely unambitious. [Jan 2005, p.96]
  37. netjak
    For such a derivative game, if you have any fondness for Japanese RPGs or Tolkien, Lord of the Rings: The Third Age is actually quite a bit of fun. For others, this will probably just be one more license game they will never bother to play and although I enjoyed it, I can definitely understand that side of things.
  38. As promising as a role-playing game based on The Lord of the Rings mythos sounds, The Third Age's reality is one of strict linearity, wacky plot foibles, and generic turn-based action.

Awards & Rankings

#37 Most Discussed Xbox Game of 2004
#45 Most Shared Xbox Game of 2004
User Score

Mixed or average reviews- based on 22 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 22
  2. Negative: 3 out of 22
  1. DanTheSpeakerman
    Nov 22, 2004
    A fun ride through Middle Earth. I would almost consider this more of an action game with RPG elements than a straight RPG. EA really did a A fun ride through Middle Earth. I would almost consider this more of an action game with RPG elements than a straight RPG. EA really did a job on this one technically, immersing you in Middle Earth's beauty and treachery with outstanding graphics and perfect sound/music. If you roll into this with the right expectations and love LOTR, you should really enjoy this. Full Review »
  2. BillyC.
    Nov 5, 2004
    One of the best lotr games i have played.
  3. HarkA.
    Nov 1, 2004
    Lord of the Rings meets Final Fantasy. If you don't like turn based RPGs with random encounters then don't buy it.