When CVG went to Middle-earth
7th Apr 2007 | 09:00
Turbine's splendid new MMORPG Lord of the Rings: Shadows of Angmar has been occupying our thoughts and gaming lives over the past few months now. CVG's been intimately involved in the beta, and given you a chance to explore the game yourself with tens of thousands of beta keys given away. Then we organised a special event with publisher Codemasters to meet up with you all in Middle-earth.
Invites were issued, proclamations were duly made and on April 30 at 7pm, the combined forces of CVG, PC Zone and PC Gamer were due to unite in what was surely the fellowship to end all fellowships to take Middle-earth by storm.
We were there to meet n' greet our beta players, lob out a few free gifts and launch a very special adventure to say thanks to the thousands of you, the readers, who've taken part.
The meet was set for a temple south of the Elvish city of Celondim and it was bold hearts and only slightly quivering stomachs that Elven champion Elvthalion (Dev Ed John), mystical lore master Cheesbridge (Dep Ed Stu) and stout dwarven battler Wargus (Tech manager Korn), were due to be joined by Botherer (PCG's John Walker) and PCZ's very own Will Porter and Jon 'Log' Blyth.
A quick briefing meet with our organisers Satine (LOTRO's European community Manager), plus special events guys Nabuna and Zorg ensued and after much cheeky power levelling and item grabbing, were about ready to go.
But then disaster struck, the minions of Mordor got into our London office network. Undaunted, we vowed to hold up the PCZ end (trickier than it sounds) and awaited what we hoped would be a rush of Middle-earth's finest denizens.
At two minutes to seven we were tapping our virtual feet, checking our sundials and passing the seconds by nervously smoking a bowl of pipeweed and idly wondering if anyone might actually turn up.
We needn't have feared, everyone was actually hanging out about a minute north in Celondim itself and once Satine had put out a world broadcast message to our exact location (very cool indeed), the peoples of Middle-earth began to arrive, in not so much a torrent as a flood, with hundreds streaming down the road, arriving by foot and even galloping in on horses to join a huge and highly impressive throng - as you'll see from the shots scattered around these pages.
Never has such a mighty assembly of heroes, erm, assembled to stalk the land of Middle-earth and we were actually real victims of our own success, with our home PC's groaning, protesting and almost grinding to halt under the sheer weight of numbers.
Still, a few graphical tweaks and all was well and an extremely merry half hour was had by all, chatting away, answering questions, telling tall tales and sharing our beta experiences in the finest Tolkien tradition.
For the CVG-ers it was excellent and indeed humbling to meet so many nice people, put names to virtual faces and be thanked so profusely for our efforts in getting so many of you into the game.
But an adventure we promised and an adventure we delivered and at a virtual nod from Satine a sudden swarm of Dourhand dwarves came leaping out of the surrounding forest to disrupt our virtual moot. Suddenly the air was alive with the hum and crackle of Loremaster's spells, the ring of axe on Dourhand noggin and the sounds of battle as the heroes of Middle-earth combined to repel the swarm of stunty foes.
But amid all the confusion the valiant Cheesbridge and the doughty Botherer were overcome and (as arranged) spirited away to the Dourhand fastness of Kheledul. Disaster!
With the clarion call of "vengeance for Cheesbridge!" (surely the strangest battle cry to ever ring out in Middle-earth), Satine urged our assembled heroes to head north to Kheledul for a massive assault on the Dwarven city and it was a heart warming sight to see the heroes of Middle-earth streaming along the road to our friends' rescue.
Five minutes later, we were reassembling outside the stronghold and wave after wave of Middle-earth's finest swept through the city gates to lay the smacketh on the combined Dourhand and Orc warbands. The battle was short but deadly with the foul creatures smote most sorely and soon their corpses littered Kheledul's streets, with a vicious final stand being made down at the docks. Just as victory and rescue seemed inevitable, something stirred in the water and from the glassy depths, an ice drake emerged!
Although not quite as deadly as a full and foul worm like Smaug, the drake was still dragon kin and many heroes were engulfed in its fiery breath as it came to feast on the living sacrifice of Cheesebridge and Botherer. But the combined might of hundreds of heroes was too much and eventually the drake succumbed under a rain of blows from Middle-earth's finest and fell to earth with a mighty crash.
With Satine chuckling "More dragons! More dragons!" on our private Kinship channel, five more dragon kin came winging in screaming vengeance for their fallen brother and a battle royale ensued with flames licking the streets of Kheledul and absolute carnage as our heroes lined up to batter the dragons.
After a prolonged and bitter battle, the drakes were eventually put to the sword and singed but unbowed, Cheesbridge and Botherer rescued. With Kheledul now a sacked and smoking ruin, a steady stream of adventurers began to wend their way back along the road to the temple south of Celondim - and even a final ambush of Trolls and Orcs was quickly brushed aside by their combined might.
With the heroes of Middle-earth finally re-assembled at the temple, a mass of fireworks began crackling and exploding over the Elvish haven as we prepared to make our final, fond farewell but with Satine urging a rousing chorus of three cheers for CVG from the assembled masses - we were all rapidly looking for a *blush* emotes.
Our adventure in Middle-earth was over, but it has to be said it was absolutely cracking fun, giving us a chance to live out our wildest MMORPG fantasies and with the thanks of beta users still ringing in our virtual ears and slightly moist eyes, it was time to log out and return to Real Life.
So that's the tale of what happened when CVG went to Middle-earth and there's just time to say a special hearty thanks to all of you who joined us there and took part in what was a truly epic adventure, as well as the thousands of you who've made your journey into Middle-earth through CVG's portal. Huge thanks too to Satine and the events team who took such good care of us on the day and Codemasters for arranging this special event.
If we can twist arms once the full game launches later this month, perhaps we'll see you in Middle-earth soon for another special event, but for the moment, heroes of Middle-earth we salute YOU!
Don't forget there's still a chance to win yourself a copy of the special pre-order edition of Lord of the Rings: Shadows of Angmar which will give you a head start on all the standard users of the game. Simply click on this link to be magically transported directly to the competition.
You can also snaffle yourself a unique in-game item for Lord of the Rings: Shadows of Angmar exclusively available on CVG. To grab a +3 Ring of Agility just hit this link and follow the instructions, but bear in mind you won't be able to activate the code until April 14th when the pre-order program begins.