The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is a 2003 cross-platform third-person hack and slash video game based on Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. The game was published by EA Games and developed by EA Redwood Shores and released for the PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube, Xbox and PC. A hack and slash role-playing game version was developed for the Game Boy Advance.
The game is similar to its predecessor The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, but differs by adding multiple storylines, more playable characters and increased interaction with environments. The game follows three separate story arcs loosely based on events in the film. A two-player co-op mode is available for some missions.
The Return of the King was developed in close collaboration with New Line Cinema, using many of the actual reference photos, drawings, models, props and other assets from the film. The game was met with positive critical reception for its graphics, audio, and gameplay, though its camera control was criticized.
Described by the developers as a modern version of Gauntlet, The Return of the King is a hack and slash action game. The game is very similar to its predecessor. The levels are twice the size of the largest level from The Two Towers and less linear. A major change from The Two Towers is the interactive nature of the game environments. The player can operate machinery, for example bridges and catapults, to complete objectives, and use environment objects as weapons, such as spears and cauldrons, to kill enemies.
Each character has their own set of combos and attributes. After the end of each level the player can upgrade their characters' abilities and combos using experience points earned in the game. The number of experience points available to the player depends on the efficiency of their kills in the game.
Interviews with the film's cast and similar DVD-style extras are unlocked as the player progresses through the game.
Unlike The Two Towers, The Return of the King features a co-op mode, allowing two players to play through parts of together. The PS2 version also has online multiplayer options with USB headset support. Since at least March 2009, EA's server for online play has been discontinued, and The Return of the King is no longer mentioned on EA's official Web site.