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PC Game Review: The Lord of the Rings – The Battle for Middle-Earth

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Note: Beware! This review contains spoilers and therefore should be read at your own risk, especially if you have not yet played the game.

The world has gone crazy as high culture is often degraded to be mass culture in the hands of Hollywood film industry; taken example as when they created the big screen version of Billy Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” with heartthrob Leonardo Di Caprio set as Romeo. A good book is often adapted into movie, but as movie is more easily drawing people’s attention, in many cases it often surpasses the fame of the book itself. J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” was no exception. Even if we knew that Tolkien created the LOTR, we are likely to be more familiar with Peter Jackson’s Frodo Baggins than the one described in the original book.

They are different, of course. I myself think it was difficult to put empathy upon Frodo’s character in the movie; for the duration was never enough to describe his plight as the ring bearer. The struggles on his mind might as well continue in the movie, but what could describe it better than Tolkien’s diction? What has happened, movie-goers were more likely to fall in love with Legolas’ comely face; or Gandalf’s wizardry.

To label Gandalf the Grey in the movie as a wizard was actually rather inappropriate. Apart from his fight against Balrog in “The Fellowship of the Ring”, he rarely cast any spells, and used his sword instead. As I am fond of Role Playing Games (RPG) and believe that each class should fits its ability, I think it is quite a disturbance for LOTR was a remarkable and entertaining work; both books and movies, I would say. Save the differences, they were one of my all time favorites. And thanks to them, nowadays everything which bears “The Lord of the Rings” label on it would suggest a quality guarantee in some points.

While it is not always true, you should perhaps take a look at “The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth”. I began this game feeling a bit reluctant; for fear that it is merely another way to extend the viewers’ impression upon the series. To tell the truth, I had found that most of the games based on the same realm were never as good as I expected them to be.

So I tried this one, –and I was in awe. It is not the first LOTR game featured the voice of the real actors and the original soundtrack, but the graphic makes this game outstanding. It reminds me a little to “Neverwinter Nights”, if not even better. Make sure you have a good video card though, so you could witness the superb detail of the fight between Gandalf and the Balrog.

Story-line, nonetheless, seems to be an unnecessary subject to be discussed. As plain as it could be, this game follows Peter Jackson’s movies instead of Tolkien’s books. Yet there is no need to argue about the importance of the battle. A Real Time Strategy would not do much without it. Here, you can choose to play good and evil single player campaigns, skirmishes, and multi players. I bet you could easily guess that the main purpose of playing the good campaign is to defeat Sauron and let Frodo to destroy his ring; while bad campaign is set to destroy the goods, including the fellowship.

There are four castles, including: Gondor, Rohan, Isengard, and Mordor. Gondor is the richest in resource, and you will get an additional advantage as you could recruit Gandalf and his Shadowfax to help the knights in this castle. But again, who could stand against Rohan’s horse-lords, Rohirrim? It might not be easy to collect resources in this castle, but when you could afford to keep some Ent moots, victory is at hand.

If you feel it is good to be bad, then do not let it be your dismay, my friends. Warg riders and Saruman in Isengard can be a great challenge to Gondor. Mordor’s trolls and mumakils could crush Rohirrim Warriors in a second if the archers did not act swiftly. The siege weapons available in both of the bad armies would surely destroy even Gondor stronghold. All in all, they have met their match.

One thing to keep in mind is that there is no such thing as flawlessness. When you play skirmish mode, you would get your skirmish profile which notes what kind or army you usually use; how many victories you have; how many losses; and things like that. You could even level up, but only to find that nothing would change. That is a bummer, but not quite too serious that it could ruin the game itself this time; when the life of Middle-earth is in your hands. Neither Peter Jackson nor J.R.R. Tolkien could meddle with your decision for you are bound to be wiser then Elrond the half-elven. Now, what are you waiting for? “Fly, Shadowfax! Fly!”

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