The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth

aka: A Gyűrűk Ura: Harc Középföldéért, BFME1, Der Herr der Ringe: Die Schlacht um Mittelerde, El Señor de los Anillos: Batalla por la Tierra Media, Il Signore degli Anelli: La Battaglia per la Terra di Mezzo, Le Seigneur des Anneaux: La Bataille pour la Terre du Milieu, O Senhor dos Anéis: A Batalha Pela Terra Média, Pán Prstenů: Bitva o Středozem, Ringenes Herre: Kampen om Midgard, Slaget om Midgård: Härskarringen, Władca Pierścieni: Bitwa o Sródziemie, Zhihuan Wang: Zhongtu Zhangzhen
Moby ID: 15857
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Description official descriptions

The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth is a real-time strategy game set in the Lord of the Rings universe and makes use licensed elements from Peter Jackson's film trilogy.

The game features four factions: Gondor, Rohan, Isengard, and Mordor. Bases are comprised of a fortress structure, a limited number of nodes upon which other buildings can be constructed, and surrounding walls with gates. Farm-type structures bring a constant income and raise the population cap. Further nodes can be found on the map to create more structures, either new fortresses or just farms. Unit production structures can level up with usage in order to gain access to more powerful or specialized unit types and upgrades.

Regular units (with the exception of artillery) are trained in squads, and much like in WarCraft III, heroes can be trained. Heroes can gain up to 10 levels through experience in combat, and as they level up, they get new abilities and spells to cast. The player can also gain experience points in combat, much like in this game's immediate technological predecessor, Command & Conquer: Generals, which can be spent to unlock support powers from the Palantir, which in turn form a special tech tree as they act as prerequisites for each other.

The game has two singleplayer campaigns, one for the Good factions and one for the Evil ones. Both are played on a meta-map, as the player chooses which area to take control of next, and each area bringing a different bonus for future skirmishes. The storyline follows the events of the Lord of the Rings films, and some key moments feature clips from the films themselves in the control interface.

Spellings

  • Властелин колец: Битва за Средиземье - Russian spelling
  • เดอะลอร์ดออฟเดอะริงส์: แบทเทิลฟอร์มิดเดิลเอิร์ธ - Thai spelling
  • 指环王: 中土战争 - Simplified Chinese spelling
  • 魔戒:中土戰爭 - Traditional Chinese spelling

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Credits (Windows version)

672 People (449 developers, 223 thanks) · View all

Executive Producer
Senior Producers
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Design Development Director
Art Development Director
Audio Director
Cinematics Director
Development Director
Engineering Development Director
Associate Producer
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Creative Direction and Design
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Reviews

Critics

Average score: 84% (based on 31 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 38 ratings with 3 reviews)

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.

Windows · by Cadorna (219) · 2005

Brilliant RTS game by the makers of Dune 2 and C&C

The Good
This RTS game is based on J.R.R. Tolkien's famous books but also the excellent Peter Jackson movie trilogy. Everything about this game screams "high production values"! The gameplay, the graphics, the music and sound effects... Almost perfect. I say "almost", since I guess the perfect game does not exist and probably never will. Having said that, this is easily one of the most enjoyable games I have ever played.

Gameplay: the gameplay is excellent. This is a real time strategy game, meaning you have to build armies and conquer Middle Earth, loosely following the events as seen in the movies. Or you can choose to play the evil side, and conquer ME with the armies of Isengard and Mordor. It’s easy to learn how to play the game, also helped by an excellent non-interactive tutorial that shows you the basics. The controls are intuitive, through a combination of mouse and keyboard controls very similar to most other popular RTS games out there. In the game you will command large armies as well as “hero” characters such as Frodo and Gandalf, but issuing move and attack commands is easy, so even people new RTS games should have no problems getting into it.

I am guessing this was the idea – targeting a broad audience - since some of the game’s concepts such a resource gathering and even base building are somewhat simplified. For example, resource gathering is just a matter of building farms (or “slaughterhouses” if you play the evil side) and making sure they’re not destroyed by the enemy. Also, the aforementioned base building is done in a different way than in most other RTS games. You can only build on specific building sites on a given map, so you can’t just build anywhere, and you only have a limited number of spots to place buildings on, so you will have to make choices as to what structures you need most in a given situation.

Graphics. The game looks absolutely gorgeous. The world of Middle Earth has been translated in a beautiful 3D world, divided into territories, or lands if you will, which have to be conquered. You view the world of Middle Earth through a beautiful animated 3D map, where you send your armies to the various territories to be conquered. Each of the many lands is unique, so no 2 lands look the same. They’re all beautifully detailed and fully 3D, allowing you to rotate the view and zoom in, so you can admire the incredible detail: magnificent landscapes with flowing water, rocks, forests, animal life, etc.

Your units and buildings themselves are just as detailed, and are instantly recognizable for those who have seen the movies. Zoom in on a unit and you can see the details on soldier uniforms, for example. They also move very realistically, through the use of motion capture.

Music & sound: the music from the actual movies (composed by Howard Shore) was used for this game, with (I think) some additional music on top, so if you liked the movie soundtrack you should like this as well. I certainly did!

Not only that, but the game also features the voices of many (though not all) of the actual movie cast, providing a wonderful sense of “being in the movie”, as it were. Ian McKellen and Christopher Lee, among many others, reprised their roles for the game, and also serve as the game narrators, providing you with info on your progress - McKellen if you play the good side, or Lee if you play the bad guys.

The Bad
As good as the game is, there are some gameplay issues.

The game limits how many units you are allowed to build, 300 at maximum if you play the good guys, and 600 at most on the evil side (they have more troops but they are weaker). At the same time you get to bring your existing troops that you had built in previous missions, so often you cannot build any new troops unless you somehow get rid of your existing ones, forcing you to intentionally play bad, by getting some of your troops killed by the enemy. At least on the evil side you can actually send your own troops to the slaughterhouse, allowing you to build new ones!

Also, as fun as the game may be, it does get repetitive after a while. There is little variation in gameplay, although you do get a number of missions in which you get to guide the Fellowship through a level. This provides some welcome change from the usual base & army building.

Finally, hardcore RTS gamers might find it too limited and perhaps not very challenging.

The Bottom Line
This is an excellent RTS game for people who enjoyed the Lord of The Rings movies. Even people who do not normally play a lot of RTS games it should be easy to get into.

Windows · by Lukas Mariman (6) · 2006

A throwback to an ancient era...

The Good
...An era where games based on franchises didn't suck. This game is pretty fun at first. The graphics are great, with the various units animated amazingly. The sound track is right from the movie and the voices are all very good (except the Hobbit's voices. Those are embarrassing.) The 4 races in the game (Gondor, Mordor, Isengard, and Rohan) All have their strengthes and weaknesses and are radically different from each other.

The Bad
An era where the "strategy" in an RTS is kept to a bare minimum. There is only one resource in this game. That's right, one. Ever since Age of Empires came out, pretty much any RTS that used only one resource that didn't have some kind of other more strategic element to set it apart from the others (the Total War series comes to mind) got rightly laughed out of the gaming world. Playing this game is like playing a really old game. Somethings just make you glad you live in this modern age. A distinct lack of strategy in the battles makes itself evident. Although there is the usual "archers defeat spearmen defeat calvary" element, it's much less pronounced and the game ends with you just flooding the map with as many units as you can, regardless of the type.

The AI obviously cheats. Destroy all it's resource centers and it will still churn out units like they cost nothing.

Lack of base building also is evident. Instead of just building bases where you want, you have to fight for special patches that allow you to build the various buildings. This turns the game into a gigantic war of attrition. Fight for this patch of land. Hold it. Build it. Rinse. Repeat.

The Bottom Line
Really just for fans of the movies. Doesn't really hold up compared to other games on it's own.

Windows · by James Kirk (150) · 2005

Trivia

Online Servers

Electronic Arts closed the game's online servers on 31st December 2010.

Awards

  • Computer Gaming World
    • March 2005 (Issue #249) – Best Use of a License of the Year

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by PhoenixFire.

Additional contributors: Unicorn Lynx, JRK, Sciere, Kabushi, Xoleras, formercontrib, Spenot, Paulus18950, Patrick Bregger, Plok, MyAbandonware, Danfer.

Game added December 14, 2004. Last modified January 18, 2024.