Generally favorable reviews - based on 23 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 23
  2. Negative: 0 out of 23
Buy On
  1. 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]
  2. Takes everything The Two Towers did well and improves upon it in every way.
  3. The interactive battles are nothing short of being an astonishing work of art. They'll take your breath away, both in how the game is played and how it looks.
  4. Nintendo Power
    The graphics are a wonder, but at times the graphics are so complex, it's difficult to make out your character from the others. [Jan 2004, p.158]
  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. 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.
  7. 90
    A nicely executed adventure worth fighting for, just be prepared to suffer inglorious defeats until you get used to the game cam.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. With lots and lots of unlockable specials in the game, including interviews with the cast, still shots, and three extra characters, Return of the King can keep players going for longer than a normal hack-n-slash.
  11. 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.
  12. This title is absolutely stuffed with content. [Dec 2003, p.156]
  13. 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]
  14. 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]
  15. It's bigger, longer and smarter than "The Two Towers."
  16. Aside from seeing the film on big screen, this is the most intense Lord of the Rings experience available.
  17. 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]
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. Weekly Famitsu
    8 / 7 / 8 / 7 - 30 silver [Vol 786]
  22. A fun and intense game at heart. If only its missions were more understandable, balanced, and streamlined.
  23. If though you're after more than eye catching cosmetic gloss and an ear stroking cinematic score, if, in short, you're after a brilliantly playable game based on one of the most celebrated, loved and epic fantasies in living memory, then sadly this isn't what you're looking for.

Awards & Rankings

#38 Most Discussed GameCube Game of 2003
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 26 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 26
  2. Negative: 3 out of 26
  1. DannyE.
    May 8, 2004
    It's incredible, and you could even play muti-player
  2. BoogerSnot
    Apr 27, 2004
    I am a huge Lord of the Rings fan so I had to check out the game. First I have to do cons of the game. (Though there weren't that many.) I am a huge Lord of the Rings fan so I had to check out the game. First I have to do cons of the game. (Though there weren't that many.) The first and the one that bugs me the most is they don't really use all that many scenes from the third movie!! This is Return of the King after all! Not the Fellowship or the Two Towers! Then second con is not being able to use Frodo until after you complete the game! He is the Ring bearer he should be a wholly playable character! There are two more cons that are in Co-Op mode. One is there are no check points in the levels!!! You are allowed to die once for your two characters and then if your one step from the end Boom! You have to start all over again! That is annoying!! The final con is it is nearly impossible to toss Gollum even close to the side! If you knock him once he'll scream and kick your friend in the head!!! Now for the pros!! Many of them ^_^! They did put footage of the third movie! You get to play with more characters. (Yah! We get to play with the hobbits!) The Co-Op mode is fun (if you both have a lot of time on your hands.) A personal favorite is you get to torture Gollum in the last level and finally get rid of him! (I don't have nothing against Andy. I don't like Gollum.) Then there is unlockable film and game art, movie stills, interviews with the actors, cheats, and two extremly hard levels (if you didn't bother with memorizing the cheats.) I reccomend this for fans of the movie, book, video games, and one of the actors fans. Full Review »
  3. Apr 20, 2016
    If you haven't heard already this game promotes a Zionist Leftist agenda intended to corrupt our children and convert them to Islam. Trump isIf you haven't heard already this game promotes a Zionist Leftist agenda intended to corrupt our children and convert them to Islam. Trump is the only candidate to officially disavow The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King on Nintendo Gamecube. Full Review »