Perhaps you’re thinking we’ve had enough Lord of the Rings games, since we were inundated while the movies were being released and now there’s even an MMO. However, Pandemic Studios, the guys who brought us the Star Wars Battlefront games, thought they’d try their hand at one, and from the way Conquest is shaping up, we may be glad they did.

The major hook is the approved–and yes, that means Tolkien Estate approved–new story material that goes beyond the original trilogy to ask what would happen if Frodo royally screwed up and didn’t manage to destroy the ring. The books occasionally hint at the evil that would ensue if such a catastrophe occurred, but Pandemic is fleshing it out into something we’ve never seen before.

The game itself feels pretty familiar, though. You participate in major battles as either a Warrior, Archer, Mage, or Scout, but there is no leveling up– it’s more pick-up ‘n play, arcade-style with combo meters. If you can stay alive, though, you do end up getting rewarded with some unlocked skills (for that session only, I’m led to believe) and the chance to play as a hero character, like Aragorn.

I watched a warrior play the Helm’s Deep battle, which seemed like an awful lot of hack ‘n slash. Granted, first it’s hack ‘n slash up on the wall, making sure the archers (whose ranks he could’ve joined instead) aren’t getting overrun, and then it’s hack ‘n slash on the ground making sure the torch bearers don’t get too close to the keep. The important thing to keep in mind is that each level can be played any number of ways (and the website indicates co-op, as well) so there should be lots of replay value.

Add in the 8 vs. 8 online battles, and Lord of the Rings: Conquest could be one more Lord of the Rings game worth having in your collection this fall.