Codemasters have been busy supporting some of the top MMORPG titles here in Europe,most notably ‘Lord of the Rings Online’ and ‘Dungeons & Dragons Online’. This week they held their first ever connect event in Birmingham at the Omega Sektor, a fully kitted-out multiplayer gaming centre. This event was the first of its kind to be hosted by Codemasters and it gave the various communities they support the chance to come along and meet Turbine and Net Devil to discuss their games.

The event kicked off with the press filing in early for the morning’s first presentations which was to include an announcement of a new MMO, what that was nobody new apart from a cryptic “MoM announcement” note on our schedules. After some brief introductions from Dave Solari, Codemasters Online’s Vice President and General Manager, the chap from NetDevil took the stage, I forgot his name, I was too busy fiddling around with a camera at the time *slaps-wrist* (Ed: Hermann Peterscheck&h**ip;good thing someone was listening).

Now you may know the name NetDevil from the now canned ‘Auto a*ault’, you know, that weird driving shooting MMO that simply didn’t work as a concept. Thankfully that’s now behind them and they’ve moved onto ‘Jumpgate Evolution’ which is an action oriented space based MMO. Note the use of the word action, this new game is to focus on the action and has been influenced by games such as ‘X-Wing Vs. Tie Fighter’, ‘Freespace’, ‘Starlancer’ and ‘Freelancer’ all great games in their own right. Could NetDevil be onto something here?
There is certainly room for another Space themed MMO, especially one that focuses more on the action and we were to get the first taste of what’s to come by going hands-on with Jumpgate Evolution, but more on that later.

With the ‘Jumpgate’ presentation done and dusted, it was time for Turbine’s Jeff Steefle totake the stage and bring us up to speed with Lord of the Rings Online, an MMO that should really be making more of a mark in the MMO space than it currently is. It has won all kinds of wards you know. Turbine have certainly thrown just about everything an MMO player could want at this game. Jeff took us through the various ‘books’ that have been released so far for the first game ‘Shadows of Angmar’, and they’ve been piling some decent features into ‘LOTRO’ since it was released. So what’s new? Well we knew a ‘new game’ was going to be announced at the event and that game is the first expansion for ‘LOTRO’ called the ‘Mines of Moria’.

As any Tolkien fan knows, this is one pretty fantastic area to add to the series and it certainly had me salivating at the thought. The first game, ‘Shadows of Angmar’, will wind down and ‘Mines of Moria’ can be considered the next part in the game’s story where players will venture into the subterranean world of Moria. This is not some small segment of the game world though, this is a whole new game, and according to Jeff, a massive play area which will flow seamlessly as the player ventures forth through Moria . Expect to find rather expansive underground Dwarven cities and some pretty cool sounding Boss encounters such as The Watcher. Jeff was keen to keep these encounters top secret for now unfortunately.

A new game means a higher level cap of 60 as well as two new classes, the Rune-keeper and the Warden. Although any real detailed information on these was not forthcoming during the presentation. One feature that really caught our eye was the ability to have weapons actually ‘level-up’ and evolve with the player, Bilbo’s Sting was used as an example of what players can expect.

Sadly there was only some art on show and a brief trailer which didn’t show us too much but this expansion does sound like one very solid product as far as features are concerned.
But ‘Jumpgate’ was the game, as mentioned before, that was actually playable at Connect. If you love a good space sim packed with action then this could be the game to watch.

Paul Younger
Founder and Editor of PC Invasion. Founder of the world's first gaming cafe and Veteran PC gamer of over 22 years.

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