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The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-Earth (Windows)

Teen
ESRB Rating
Genre
Perspective
Theme
Misc
84
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.9
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Cadorna (190)
Written on  :  Jan 01, 2005
Rating  :  3.71 Stars3.71 Stars3.71 Stars3.71 Stars3.71 Stars

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Summary

Great RTS true to the movie-license

The Good

Well, best of all is of course the LotR movie-license, and the fact that the game stays true to it. Everything looks, sounds and feels like you'd expect it to after seeing the movie trilogy (or any of the three movies, for that matter). The main characters, the different units, the known locations like Rohan or Isengart, really everything.
The storyline sticks rather close to the one the movie displays if you're playing the good side, except that you can take part in a lot of battles that supposedly occurred "in between", such as numerous struggles of the Rohirrim against Saruman's Uruk-Hai, and the fact that you can change minor things here and there, such as allowing Boromir to survive and keeping him as a hero throughout the campaign. On the evil side, you're naturally pursuing a slightly different path...
The interface feels very clean, and you'll quickly get a hang of how to do things, no matter whether you watch the tutorial movies or not. The missions are relatively diverse - in the beginning you'll usually switch between "story-missions", which follow the footsteps of the fellowship of the ring, and what I'd call skirmish missions, rather generic encounters with orcs. Later on, however, you'll almost only fight the battles known from the movie. Again, almost all the story-missions feel very polished, and you'll often encounter familiar scenes.

The Bad

Despite being THE good thing one can say about this game, the fact that it is licensed to the LotR movies is also a bad thing: You'll encounter none of the things you might expect to encounter after reading the books. Everything that got the axe in the movies won't be in the game, either. However, this is only a minor nuisance compared to the worst thing I can say about BfME: to call it hectic would be a major understatement. Many times, the game feels like you're playing an old game which wasn't designed to run on today's fast CPUs. For example, the enemy literally throws troops at you. At an alarming rate, to say the least. Even if you capture all his resource-base, he'll still chunk them out like they're free (I guess it's safe to say that he cheats like crazy). More than once will you find your assault force running back and forth between two ends of the enemies base because once you've taken his left barracks down, he'll already have rebuilt the right barracks and two units of grunts will be awaiting you. Once you've dealt with them and burnt the building, guess what will have happened to the left barracks in the meantime. This can be challenging at times, but since it just keeps happening, it really got on my nerves. If you like such things, though, you can put this whole affair under "The Good" above. ;) Other than that, the only negative thing that comes to mind is the occasional lack of overview. Despite the otherwise excellent interface, you'll sometimes be struggling not to lose track of your units and their whereabouts and agenda, and often all struggle will be in vein. This matter is especially severe due to the hectic nature of the game mentioned above.

The Bottom Line

In the bottom line, EA sure did a decent job creating a RTS out of the LotR license. Compared to the one with the book- rather than movie-license, Sierra'a War of the Ring, this game is excellent. Heck, it's still a great game if you don't compare it. ;) The polish that obviously went into it is astounding enough. No other game allows you to take part in the Battle for Middle-Earth like this one, thus it really deserves it's title. However, if you're the type of player that enjoys sitting back for a few quiet minutes after defeating the all-out assault of the enemy, preparing for his next coming or for your counter attack, this game is not for you. It's one big all-out assault, literally.