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The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age is a pair of similar video games based on Peter Jackson's film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's trilogy The Lord of the Rings.

In the version released for the GameCube, Play Station 2 and X Box, the plot follows your expanding group of heroes as they follow (and try to assist) the Fellowship of the novels and the movie.

The version released for the Game Boy Advance allows you to command the heroes of good or evil and the soldiers alongside them as they fight for control of Middle-Earth in several (canonical and non-canonical) battles of the War of the Ring.



Game Cube / Play Station 2 / Xbox Version

Tropes in the GameCube-PS2-X Box version of The Third Age provide examples of:

  • Boss Dissonance: Balrog, dear God Balrog. He is the second "true boss" in the game, and is the final boss of Chapter 3: The Mines of Moria. The game is rather easy up to this point, but Balrog shows up to wipe the party. For reference, the first boss, The Watcher in the Water has 3,112 HP, Balorg has 72,317 HP, and the third boss, Grima Wormtongue, has but 14,927 HP. Justified: The Balrog is a huge fire-and-shadow demon of the ancient world, while Grima is only a normal human who's been corrupted (and given a few powers through it, it seems).

    The worst part of the Balrog isn't his obscene amount of hit points (that just makes him a Damage Sponge boss), nor is it the amount of damage he does, since you can and should have several ways to offset that by this point in the game if you've been unlocking skills correctly. By far the worst part is that 2 of his attacks hit your entire party and drain nearly all their AP in one shot. Without Gandalf's Wizard Drain, only Idrial would have a reliable way of replenishing her own AP. If Idrial doesn't have Aura of the Valar and Power of the Valar [1], it would be nearly hopeless without Gandalf. In fact, it's entirely possible to let the party die and just have Gandalf kill the Balrog.
  • Bottomless Magazines: No matter how long a battle lasts, or how many battles you do in a row, Elegost never runs out of arrows.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: At the beginning of the game, Idrial finishes of two Ringwraiths with the Water Stallion, a Spell that you likely won't get until at least halfway through the game and will not be able to finish off Ringwraiths (Who are somewhere between Elite Mook and Sub Boss in power depending on when you meet them) in one hit without serious boosting.
  • Damage Sponge Boss: The Witch King. His damage output is pretty much negligible and you can perpetually stall his turn, but due to his high defenses and the fact that he counters every hit you make with an incredibly long-winded animation just to bonk you on the head, the fight takes forever. Most of the late enemies and bosses tend to count, but he's one of the most obnoxious.
  • Enemy Scan: Courtesy of Elegost.
  • Elemental Powers: A few of the characters have attacks like this.
    • Making a Splash: Idrial uses a few spirit attacks made of water, and a few of her other spells have water animations.
    • Shock and Awe / Green Thumb: Elegost has a high-level skill that summons a lightning storm on his enemies. In addition, another high-level skill allows him to bind his enemies with roots.
    • Playing with Fire / Dishing Out Dirt: Hadhod has a few fire skills, including a meteor and a dragon spirit, though one skill is used to defend against enemy fire attacks. In addition, he can raise shields of earth in front of his allies.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Strangely enough for a game in which playable characters have names. After Berethor's introduction to Idrial, not many people call each other by name, but rather refer to their races and jobs: Human, Knight of Gondor, She-Elf, Ranger, Dwarf, etc...
  • Expy: Each character is this to one of the existing characters. Berethor is Boromir as The Atoner and The Hero, Elegost is Aragorn as The Lancer instead of Supporting Leader, Idrial is Arwen as a warrior, Hadhod is Gimli without the humour, Morwen is Eowyn and Eaoden is Eomer.
  • First Girl Wins: Zigzagged and played with, to a strange extent. See Romantic Plot Tumor, it's that confusing. Berethor met Morwen first, got Laser-Guided Amnesia, met Idrial, who the audience assumes is the first girl (and is the first girl from a gaming perspective), then ended up with Morwen at the end.
  • Gainaxing: Watch Morwen's chest when she starts to walk around in the cutscene directly after you rescue her...actually, any cutscene with Morwen.
  • Guest Star Party Member: Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Eowyn, Faramir, and even random elves assist you at times.
  • Level Grinding: Once you get the Travel option, this becomes a lot easier. It's also a good way to raise things like crafting stats or the stats of new characters without placing them in direct danger.
  • Lazy Backup: Only three heroes can fight at the same time. If all three are killed/knocked out it's a game over while any other characters look on.
  • Love Triangle: Inverted, if you can picture such a thing. It's not a "triangle" so much as a line segment that very suddenly points somewhere very different with no warning.
  • Magic Knight: Eaoden and Hadhod. Idrial can try, with varying results.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Several cutscenes show Elegost using a sword. In game, he's your bowman.
  • No Campaign for the Wicked: Averted, with "Evil Mode". You get to play the forces of Sauron (including Sauron himself!) and fight the heroes, but if you think it's going to be easy, you're wrong...
  • Remember the New Guy?: Berethor and his gang seem to mysteriously show up during all key events of the movies, sometimes teaming up with canon characters. Such as helping Gandalf kick the Balrog's ass. And then the recycled footage from the movies plays and naturally they're all absent from that. The whole game plays out like an amateur Self Insert Fanfic.
  • Shown Their Work: The game is extremely non-canon, but there is one thing the developers got right; besides the elves, very few people actually do big, flashy attack magic, instead performing morale-boosting Status Buff skills and elaborate weapon techniques. The main character has a healing spell, but that is explicitly an elvish blessing.
  • Status Buff: Several, most for the player from Berethor's Leadership skills.
  • Status Buff Dispel: Also several, but the player is mostly limited to Eoaden's Dispel skill and the completely identical Dispel found in Shadowcraft.
  • Useless Useful Spell:
    • Averted, surprisingly enough. There are a crapton of status effects you can inflict, and any individual monster (except a couple bosses) are only immune to around half of them at a time. Elegost can tell you which ones you can use. While some of the later bosses are immune to most of the more powerful ones, in most cases there's at least one status effect you can abuse to a significant degree (for instance, stalling the Witch King indefinitely and turning a Climax Boss into a snoozefest). Another example is the Mumakil, immune to Stunning, Crippling, and Sleep, but vulnerable to Melee Bind techniques. Its two melee techniques are Sweep Tusks (which removes one character's AP) and Stomp (which stuns everybody). With a single binding, it's two most annoying attacks are sealed, leaving it with a couple of wimpy damaging attacks, and turning That One Boss into Damage Sponge Boss.
    • May or may not be played straight with some of the more optional skillsets... Such as crafting (which requires lots of grinding before becoming useful, and leads to item hoarding and skipping a character's turn) and stealing (self explanatory, considering only consumables are lootable and the vast variety of items are of questionable use). A lot of minor items have obscure effects as well, such as reducing blunt/slash/pierce/fire/water/etc damage for a few turns when the type of an attack is difficult to determine.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: The story could be summed up as a self-insert into the Lord of the Rings' entire plot, from following Hobbits to fighting at the Battle of Pelennor Fields.


Game Boy Advance Version

Tropes in the Game Boy Advance version of The Third Age provide examples of:

  • Authority Equals Asskicking: In two missions, as evil, you get to play as Sauron himself -- and he is ridiculously powerful, though he is not immune to death if you misuse him.
  • Awesome but Impractical: The Witch-King's combination of Rage and Flurry -- sure, he could do ridiculous amounts of damage, but to make it worthwhile he has to be in melee range of as many as four units. This doesn't happen often, and even if you pull it off, he's most likely not going to make it out without a fair amount of damage. Furthermore, pulling this off uses some of his limited Command and Spirit Points, which could be used better for some other purpose.
    • For that matter, when you have Sauron, he possesses both the Flurry and Strength of Mordor abilities, meaning that he can hit up to three units and force them all to fail a morale check and flee (if they don't die first). Again, however, this requires getting him almost to melee range, but on the upside, Sauron is a much better leader than the Witch-King so he can take some Mooks alongside him.
    • The combination of Elrond, Legolas, and Haldir; first you have to unlock Haldir by beating The Black Gate Opens on hard difficulty, then you have to get all of them fully upgraded and find a mission where you can use all three. However, if you get them all on the same flank -- The Last Alliance comes to mind -- both Elrond and Haldir can use Keen Eyes, adding 3 range to all units on the flank, and Legolas can use Sweep Attack to snipe up to four units from 15 squares away. The best part is that all three of them can now do full damage at the far end of their range, meaning you can toast entire packs of units from multiple screens away ... you just need to have the Command Points and Spirit Points to do all that in one turn.
  • Awesome Yet Practical: Many primary heroes' unique abilities.
    • Gandalf has Blinding Light, which causes all enemy units on the same flank to take several morale checks and, if they fail, to simply flee (backing them off and rendering them useless for a turn).
    • Elrond has Elven Duress, which actually gives the enemies a Command Point penalty on the next turn -- and a decent chance of suffering Disorder and losing them all.
    • Aragorn has Curse of the Dead, which isn't really that powerful but can deal damage to people you can't reach across the flank.
    • The Mouth of Sauron has Eye of Sauron, which allows all evil units on his flank to do additional damage ... even if it only works against heroes.
    • The Witch-King has Invulnerability, which cuts the damage he takes in addition to making him invincible to all Mooks for one turn.
      • Sauron gets it too, when he shows up; Terror is actually the Witch-King's unique skill.
    • Saruman has Swarm Of Crebain, which not only deals hefty damage but stuns the target for one turn.
  • Boring but Practical: Aragorn can also use both Arms Mastery and Sweep Attack, and since he has decent range he can find more opportunities than the Witch-King to successfully pull it off.
    • The Witch-King's Terror ability. Few things suck as much as the Defense of the Beacon mission, where he will use it incessantly to root your outnumbered and outflanked forces to the spot wherever they stand.
    • The Evasion skill. Rarely useful, but when you want to assassinate a fleeing hero, reach a target location or just get the hero where they're needed, it comes in handy.
    • The Hold Fast and On Your Feet abilities, for good and evil respectively; healing is hard to come by.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Siege weapons have the Inaccurate "talent", meaning they're supposed to miss 50% of the time ... but the computer seems to have a much higher hit rate with the blasted things. Particularly annoying in the Assault on Osgiliath mission, since while the expendable Gondor knights can and must charge forward at will, the good heroes cannot get any more than four spaces from the bottom of the map before the enemy immediately focus-fires on them with the two Orc catapults.
    • Then again, Gandalf can approach, as long as he's using the Stealth ability every step of the way.
  • Elite Mooks: The Army of the Dead, the Ents, and any cavalry on the side of good; Uruk-hai, Ringwraiths and Trolls on the side of evil.
  • Expy: Strangely enough, an example on the scale of an entire mission. The unlockable level Balin's Tomb is basically the same as Flight From Moria, only set inside Moria and without any elves or woodsmen.
  • For Massive Damage: Of all people, the Mouth of Sauron is the damage king; with a base damage of 6, plus upgrades adding 4, plus maxed-out Rage adding another 4, and maxed-out Eye of Sauron adding another three, plus a potential Onslaught adding 2, he can theoretically have an attack value of 19 against a hero, meaning he is capable of dealing 38 damage in a single hit. (For comparison, no good hero or unit has any more than 30 Hit Points on normal difficulty.) On the downside, he can only attack at melee range and has an annoying habit of failing morale checks when he actually takes damage.
    • Saruman, too, brings the pain: base damage of 4, Rage for another 4, possible Onslaught for another 2, leading to a base damage of 10 for a maximum hit of 20 to any single unit (at range, no less). On top of that, he can hit again with Swarm Of Crebain, which when maxed-out deals 3-12 damage, bringing his maximum offensive output to 32 in a single turn.
    • For the good side, Gimli is your man: base damage of 6, upgrades adding 3, maxed-out Arms Mastery adding 3 more, using Entwater adding 2 more, and a possible Onslaught for 2 more, bringing his single-hit damage value to 16 for a theoretical maximum of 32 in one smack of his axe.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: The entire literal purpose of the Defense of the Beacon, Mount Mindolluin, and Charge of the Rohirrim missions.
  • Guest Star Party Member: Several, including:
    • Theodred, in the level Crossing of the Ford;
    • Several Ringwraiths, mounted and on foot, in the non-canon level Darkness Upon Bree;
    • Merry and/or Pippin, in several levels throughout the game;
    • Prince Isildur, in both the tutorial levels as well as the unlockable level Sauron Comes;
    • Sauron himself in the levels The Last Alliance (as evil only) and Sauron Comes.
  • The Juggernaut: Mumakil. They only show up twice (Ambush At Ithilien and Pelennor Fields), but goddamn are they ever destructive! Consider this: they boast by far the highest Hit Points in the game, unflappable morale, brutal attack power, AND the Shock and Double Move talents. On top of that, any unit in their way automatically fails a morale check and is forced to flee; if they cannot escape (thanks to surrounding units or terrain) the unfortunate target is trampled to death where they stand. As a result, killing one is a pretty satisfying achievement.
    • In the Pelennor Fields level, if you are playing as evil and if you move the Mumakil down at least one space on the first turn, when the second turn comes and the Army of the Dead arrive, you can run it straight down and trample over Aragorn before he can fire a shot. The Mumakil can proceed to disrupt and kill the Army of the Dead while the rest of your minions curbstomp the handful of Rohan cavalry gathered at the top of the map and then mop up whoever is left standing.
  • Just You and Me And My Guards: In the Pelennor Fields level, a massive evil army (with a Mumak) faces down a handful of Rohan cavalry and the few heroes who lead them. Then turn 2 comes ... and the Army of the Dead appear across the entire bottom edge of the map.
  • Killed Off for Real: Playing on Sauron Mode. Injured heroes still regain their health between combat, but any who fall in battle are gone for the rest of the campaign. Even playing without Sauron Mode, heroes who fall in battle will be unable to be fielded in the next battle before they are available once again.
  • No Campaign for the Wicked: Subverted. You can play an entire campaign as either good or evil, but they still fight through the same battles, just on different sides (and with the occasional minor difference).
  • Took a Level In Badass: All of your primary and secondary heroes can do this, but one that really stands out is Saruman. During the course of his upgrades, he gains range, Spirit Points, a defense bonus, and goes from average leadership to the best in the game ("Exemplary", beating out even Aragorn, Theoden, and Sauron himself). His abilities allow him to heal the whole flank, boost his damage, drop a punishing debuff on any given unit from far away, and deal hefty damage while stunning the target (effectively a second attack). True, his Hit Points still suck, and he's only average at moving from place to place, but he's downright spectacular at leading an army -- which is his job.
  • Video Game Characters: The heroes, both good and evil:

Notes

  1. Two abilities that almost guarantee survival and eventual, slow grinding of boss health.
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