A Clash of Swords

Combat is a significant part of both the novel Snow Crash and the game Lord of the Rings Online, but it is implemented in very different ways. Sword-fighting is used in both, but that’s just about the only similarity between the two. In Snow Crash, the combat is like an art form, with both combatants using various strategies and complex movements. In LOTRO, the combat is much more simple, with the character having a smaller repertoire of possible attacks. This makes combat a much simpler affair than in Snow Crash. Another major difference is that in Snow Crash, the characters not fighting in real life, just in the metaverse. This detracts from its intensity somewhat, making it more like a “video game” for Hiro. LOTRO really is a video game, but for my level 6 hobbit, it is a fight for survival as deadly enemies try to end his life.

Also, combat in LOTRO is a more interactive, because you are controlling the character yourself, making you more interested in the outcome of the fight. In the book, you are merely a passive observer, with no vested interested in the outcome unless you want the story to turn out a certain way. However, you are more aware of the medium in LOTRO; there is a low level of “transparency” or “immediacy”. The many icons and buttons, coupled with the awkward turn based combat system, make the player very aware of the fact that he is playing a video game. In the book, the simple interface makes it easier to forget that the story is just from a book.

Combat is certainly a big part of both stories, but I felt it was a bigger part of LOTRO. To get anywhere in the game, you almost certainly have to defeat a few enemies. When I was in the Old Forest and the Barrow-Downs, it felt like the enemies were never-ending and fighting was the only thing I was doing. In the book, the main focus is the plot to stop the virus, with episodes of fighting throughout.

Although combat was interesting for both stories, I personally found it to be more engaging in LOTRO, mainly because you are doing the fighting yourself and it carries much more importance.

– Kashyap Saxena