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The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-Earth
(hx) 03:14 AM CET - Jan,14 2005

Built on EA's Command Conquer: Generals engine, The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle Earth (BME) is a real-time strategy game set in the world of the Peter Jackson trilogy, based on the novels by J.R.R. Tolkien. The story for Battle for Middle Earth covers the three films and includes all the familiar characters who are available as hero units. You decide where to send the Fellowship of the Ring, how and when to fight, and how to deploy your forces when battle is joined. You decide whether to use the ring or not...The fate of the world lies in your hands!

There're two single player campaigns, skirmish, and multiplayer. If you choose jump right in to the single-player campaign, you can opt for good or evil with the good side focusing on Rohan and Gondor. On the evil side, there's Saruman, Gollum, various Nazgul, and assorted others. Similar in ways to Rise of Nations, there's a global map from where you select provinces (~30 provinces) to conquer or defend. You make no real strategic decisions from this view, instead, you are really only choosing the location of your next battle - and often, not choosing much of anything, since there may be only one location available. Controlling provinces gives you powerpoints which can help you in your goal by adding resources, experience and command points. The power points are used to gain certain powers like the ability to summon battalions of Elves or creating lush terrain to give your troops defensive bonuses and eventually even the Army Of The Dead or Balrog. These powers must be used sparingly, but they can easily turn the tide of battle if timed right. Command points basically equate to a unit cap. The more points you have, the more units you can build up to a preset maximum.

Heroes are very powerful and gains experience and new special abilities as they fight, as do most other units (these advances persist between missions). For instance, Gandalf summons a handy lightning attack that can fell many units at one time, Aragorn can sound the Horn of Gondor, which forces nearby units to flee, Trolls and Ents can pick up and throw rocks and boulders that lie scattered throughout the world, etc. These abilities have to be recharged after each use. Unfortunately managing many of them at once is a chore, since they often get lost in the battles. Unlike the heroes, soldiers and orcs can be found in large numbers and are commanded in formations. They fight hand-to-hand with swords, clubs, axes, and other melee weapons - although some are equipped as archers. Siege weapons like catapults and Trebuchets fire balls of burning pitch or rocks - but they are large and slow.

There are three types of bases, all with predetermined layouts and building plots: outposts, camps, and castles. They can then be placed on these plots by left clicking on them and selecting the correct building from the graphical radial menu on screen or hotkey. The gathering of resources is weak and there's only one kind of resource - gold, which can be collected from destroyed neutral structures or by using farms lumber mills and slaughterhouses. If you have enough gold to cover the cost, you simply click the desired structure and it is built. As you discover other foundations and destroy enemy buildings, you can then use them as well, although you must have a unit close by to begin construction.

The game plays as a solid real-time strategy with all the flair that the EALA team put into Generals. The action is fast-paced, squad-based and streamlined. Battles are fun to watch with horseman literally running over orcs and warriors. Not too much strategy involved though, just crank out the units, upgrade, swamp the enemy, etc. However, this kind of gameplay works surprisingly well. The game has some annoying things like unit control could be a little better and sometimes they don't respond well, but overall it's a solid.

Multiplayer offers a choice between the game's four sides: Gondor, Rohan, Isengard, and Mordor. There are over 37 multiplayer maps (maps are drawn from the campaign) to choose from, which can support anywhere from 2 to 8 players. If you were familiar with the Generals multiplayer, you will notice some similarities. I was able to test the LAN portion of the game and found it to be a pretty intense slugfest that can last for hours, depending on the quality of the participants. I can see people playing the multiplayer for a long time, the human aspect really makes the game unpredictable.

Is it worth your money? Depends on whether you like Lord Of The Rings stuff or not. If you hate it in the first place, don't even bother. I played it loads, and enjoyed it a lot. The battles are great and abilities and power-ups add to the fun. Sure, some players may be somewhat annoyed by the limited AI and rudimentary base building, but those drawbacks won't stand in the way of a surprisingly compelling game.

System requirements: 1.3 GHz Intel Pentium IV or AMD Athlon processor, 256 MB RAM (512MB recommended), Nvidia GeForce2* or equivalent video card with 32 MB RAM, DirectX 9.0b compatible sound card, 4 GB available hard disk space
*Nvidia GeForce2 MX is not supported

snd: 5/5 - excellent
gfx: 4/5 - solid, modified version of the C&C: Generals engine, spectacular level design, resembles the scenes from the movies very well, framerate slowdowns in big battles, limited camera
playability: 5/5 - simple&fun, becomes quickly intuitive, huge battles, well-implemented heroes, simplified base building and resource gathering, enjoyable multiplayer, some annoying unit issues
genre: real-time strategy
release: December 2004
developer: EALA
publisher: EA Games
Overall: 85%

last 10 comments:

xxxx(05:28 AM CET - Jan,14 2005 )
How many players were you on the LAN, was it laggy at all? You seem to mention you can play a game for hours, did your game take hours and during that time did you experience slow downs in the game? Just curious. What resolution did you play at and what video card did you play it with? I don't want to buy another EA game without knowing this stuff first. Tell me what kind of machine you powered the game with. Please.

(12:29 PM CET - Jan,14 2005 )
Here are my system specs: WinXP SP2, Athlon64 3500, 1GB RAM, GeForce 6800GT/256, Audigy 2

Game settings: 1024/768, highest details, EAX 3 on

Singleplayer: there were some occasional framerate slowdowns in massive battles

Multiplayer (3ppl / LAN): no crashes, no slowdowns, nothing untoward

I would recommend some P4 2.5GHz /Athlon 2200-2500, 512-1GB RAM and Geforce FX5700

Venom1(05:12 PM CET - Jan,14 2005 )
One of the best game i ever played...
Graphics and sounds are awesome!!!
I love war*z, but this worth every $$$ it costs! :wink:

No general slowdown. (you !really! need 1 GB ddr)
Game works fine.
My pc: P4, Asus P4p800, 1Gb Ram, Radeon X800Se Eax 3.
Disable all unusefull services you have before playing this game.

xxxx(06:03 PM CET - Jan,14 2005 )
Thanks for the info guys. Gonna skip it. Hx, you got a nice box, no doubt, to have slowdowns in SP there is no reason. You have one of the fastest processors and a damn good video card. And Venom, what speed of CPU do you have? I have 1Gb ram, thats not an issue. Only issues I have with this game as LOTS will have when they read on about this game is it is done on the Generals engine and there were LOTS of issues EA has since ignored. AI problems, serious lag issues in servers with 4 people etc. For these reasons I guess I'm gonna pass on this game. I think I'm gonna get Exigo. If this LOTR was made by anyone else than EA, I'd buy it but I don't trust EA when it comes to support. Thanks for a good review HX and thanks for your input. HX, if you can add how it played over the Internet, appreciate it. Most people don't play these games on a LAN but rather direct connect over the internet. Be valuable to people like me that don't like EA and want to make sure they don't make the same mistake again. Again, thanks guys. Game does look good. Just a shame EA is my least favorite game company.

Venom1(06:30 PM CET - Jan,14 2005 )
Sorry forgot ...P4 3 GHz.
xxxx i have really no prob with this game (and C&C too)
Ai is quite good (on Hard mode) and the 2 solo campaigns are long and really beautiful.
Online the game has some lag...i must admit.
But i have so few time, that rarely i play game online.
MY SUGGESTION: buy this game and not EXIGO!
It's a totally waste of money!
Really boring game!!!!
A bad clone of Warcraft 3, and the graphics is not so good...
Really not worth even down*** cough cough. :shock:
Trust me.
I hate EA too, but this game is really great.
HX what about to give 90% to this game? :roll:

Anonymous(08:55 PM CET - Jan,14 2005 )

i would just like to point out that you would be a total moron for buying Exigo over this game

It would be a big big mistake

I have no problems running it, most complaints are from those that have no idea how to work their rigs

btw, Exigo is a joke

xxxx(02:12 AM CET - Jan,15 2005 )
Maybe I will get my wife to push me into the store. :lol: I think I'd have to be shoved to by the game. :P I played Exigo demo I liked it, was kind of nice. Didn't remind me of Warcraft, but then I didn't care for Warcraft :shock: Played it for a bit and got bored. I might buy it, don't know. Seems good, but with my machine, Generals online played like crap all the time. Major slowdowns. I saw that timer so much it made me dizzy. Anyhow, thanks for the input. I'll consider getting it this weekend.

v1m(10:42 AM CET - Jan,16 2005 )
FYI: I got Exigo because I liked the demo, too. But as it turned out, the demo level was far more interesting and playable than the first several levels of the singleplayer... If you must buy it, get it on the cheap on eBay.

xxxx(02:51 PM CET - Jan,17 2005 )
Thanks again, ya I got LOTR afterall. Exigo, lots of boxes on shelves was kinda a indicator to me. So far I'm pretty impressed with LOTR. I like the fact it is their voices and the little clips that go on. I only played it for an hour or so but definitely looks like a fun game. Guess I will have to cut down a bit on HL2 while I play this. Tutorial was a little weak if i had to say anything negative. After watching all the tutorials I didn't know what to do when the skirmish started. But in time.... Thanks guys.. finally used my gift certificate and the game only cost me $8. Can't complain. :D

libermanpg(07:03 PM CET - Feb,01 2005 )

can u give me some cheats for this game. I canot find anyone!

:cry: :cry: :cry:

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