The Lord of the Rings Online Preview, Part One

Ten Ton Hammer has posted the first portion of a new hands-on preview of Turbine's The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar.
From the moment I started the my LotRO client, I knew this wasn't a normal MMO that I was playing. The first image you get on your screen - aside from the Turbine logo animation - is of the One Ring falling slowly through the air, fire reflecting off its golden surface. Gandalf the Gray, his pointy hat and long flowing beard easily recognizable, appears after the ring reaches its downward descent and narrates the introductory movie that gives the player a concrete setting for the period of time that I am going to be adventuring in. As Gandalf narrates, four characters an elf, a human, a dwarf, and a hobbit fight off a band of orcs and Uruk-hai. Gandalf lets the player know that it is your duty to stop the forces of darkness that are spewing forth from shadowy realm of Angmar. If you succeed in your mission, you'll clear the path for the Ring-bearer to continue on his quest.

In all my gaming years, rarely have I experienced an intro movie that prepares a player so perfectly for what their task is in the game ahead, while also providing entertainment at the same time. Even though the movie isn't as pretty as something you might see from the Blizzard crew, the whole presentation actually educates the viewer as he is watching. By the time you finish the movie, you actually understand what your goals will be in the game, rather than just being set loose in a giant sandbox. Your mission is this: you need to help the forces of light, defeat the armies of evil!