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|The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth|
December 6, 2004
ESRB: Teen (T)
The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth is a real-time strategy game for the PC developed by EALA. It was inspired and licensed from Peter Jackson's recent adaptations of the famous books by J.R.R. Tolkien and also features a number of the voice actors, including all the hobbits and wizards. It uses the Sage engine from Command & Conquer: Generals and was released on December 6, 2004. The sequel, The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II, was announced in July 2005.
While there have been numerous other games based on The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R.Tolkien and the films, Battle for Middle-earth is unique in the fact that the developers intended to bring the feel of a "living" Middle-earth to the PC through impressive graphics and special effects, as well as to push the genre beyond the RTS niche market by introducing a more intuitive system. Though lauded for its graphics, it did not make a major impact with critics. The game was still well received by many Lord of the Rings and RTS fans. It allows players to control units from 4 major "factions" of Middle-earth: Gondor, Rohan, Isengard, and Mordor, as well as members of the Fellowship. However, some people were disappointed by EA's promotional videos promoting the game as a Rome: Total War-style game, commanding thousands of troops at once, while the actual in game unit count and variety are actually quite low relative to other RTS titles. This game plays very similar to Command & Conquer: Generals even down to the power point system which allows players to earn special powers as you destroy more enemies. The powers that can be earned range from summoning elven allies, calling Eagles, all the way to bringing out the Army of the Dead or the Balrog.
Video of an attack on a Mordor base
The game functions much like other RTS games, the player must manage an army taking control of economy and unit production, where BFME differs from other RTS titles is in that buildings canet points, and camp sites already exist and are scattered around the map. These range from an outpost (three building points) to a full fledged castle. In line with the trend in recent RTS games, units train in squads (Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War is a recent example of this).
This RTS features an Evil and Good campaign set in the War of the Ring-timeline as directed in the trilogy by Peter Jackson with a few game adaptations. As many other RTS-games this feature two opposite endings dependent on which side the player join. The Free Peoples (Gondor and Rohan) focus on their numerous heroes, like Gandalf, Aragorn, Théoden, Éomer, etc. On the other hand, the Forces of Darkness (Mordor and Isengard) depend mainly on their hordes of Orcs, Uruk-Hai, and Evil Men.
Economy is managed generally by building farms (Good side), slaughterhouses and furnaces (both for Evil side) on the predefined slots to gain resources. There're also upgrades to increase the speed and reduce production cost.
Each of these maps is throughout the campaign accessed by selecting well-known and lesser-known regions of Middle-Earth such as the Westfold, Eastern Rohan, Mirkwood and even to the far-eastern locales of Rhûn and Harad. While the game authentically follows the story in proper order with special events like the Battle of Helm's Deep, Isengard, Moria and Minas Tirith the in-between game play rests, as said, upon the regions of Middle-earth encompassing in the West from the Shire to Mirkwood, eastmost to Rhûn and all the way south to Mordor and the far reaches of Near Harad.
There are few canonical missions in the game, and until a major event happens, your armies wander around conquering other territories.
The Fellowship makes the dangerous trek through the ancient halls, surviving goblin attacks, the ambush at Balin's Tomb, and even a Balrog of Morgoth . This mission takes the alternate storyline of Gandalf surviving the battle to meet up with the rest of the Fellowship outside.
Having escaped Moria, the Fellowship is still being pursued by vicious goblins. They meet up with the elves of Lorien, who help drive off the invasion and demolish nearby lumber camps.
Ambushed by Uruk-hai raiders, the Fellowship must rally to the aid of their friend Boromir and escort Frodo and Sam safely to the boats so they can continue the Ring Quest. In this alternate storyline, Boromir can actually survive and continue to accompany the fellowship in there quest to save Merry and Pippin.
- Eaves of Fangorn
As a Rohirrim patrol led by Éomer, you must destroy Isengard's forces in the area, and rescue Merry and Pippin from their captors.
Rohan must make its last stand in the Hornburg by defeating the invading uruk-hai, and then riding out at dawn to crush the remaining forces.
- Northern Ithilien
Faramir and his rangers must ambush the Haradrim army meeting with Mordor, as well as protecting Frodo and Sam.
Faramir's dwindling forces must secure the ruined city of Osgiliath and drive the armies of Mordor out. In the beginning of Minas Tirith, Boromir can be seen fleeing Osgiliath with Faramir; speculating that Boromir went to assist his brother and had to retreat with him, though he is not available in the mission himself.
In the epic clash of good and evil, the White City must be defended against Sauron's oncoming forces. In this alternate storyline, Théoden can survive and accompany Rohan's armies to the Black Gates of Mordor.
Saruman, allying himself with Sauron, must build up his Uruk-hai army, as well as driving off invading Elves, Ents, and Rohirrim.
The armies of Saruman must advance into Fangorn and kill Treebeard and his ents before they become a serious threat.
Lurtz leads an Uruk-hai raid to Amon Hen to ambush the Fellowship and kill Boromir, Merry, and Pippin.
- Helm's Deep
No enemy force has ever taken the Hornburg, but that won't stop Saruman from trying. Lead the hordes of Isengard into the fortress and crush Rohan once and for all.
- Near Harad
The armies of Mordor advance into the deserts of Harad to recruit the local Haradrim into Sauron's employ. Either bribe the tribal leaders, or destroy their settlements and scare them into submission.
- Southern Ithilien
Faramir's rangers have hampered Mordor's armies too long. Seek out their base at the Forbidden Pool and wipe them from the face of the earth.
The ruined city of Osgiliath is a key border point to launch an assault on Gondor. Raze the defenses to the ground and claim the city for Mordor.
- Cirith Ungol/Shelob's Lair
Frodo and Sam have been spotted trekking through Shelob's Lair. Unite with the ancient spider, kill the hobbits, and claim the One Ring for Sauron.
- Minas Tirith
With the One Ring regained, Sauron's victory is all but assured. Mordor and Isengard unite forces to assault Minas Tirith and crush the last Free Peoples.
After each campaign chapter is played, the player gets a score based on the accomplishments he has done, and at the end of the campaign, these scores are added to an overall score.
The score is calculated as following:Battle Statistics + Bonus Objectives + Veterancy Heroes + Veterancy Units + Terrain Bonus
- Battle Statistics
x1 Units trained
x10 Buildings constructed
x1 Resources collected
x1000 Powerpoints earned
x2 Enemy units killed
x10 Enemy buildings destroyed
(0-1000) A time bonus
- Bonus Objectives
x2000 Any bonus objectives accomplished
- Veterancy Heroes
x1000 Any hero that gained at least one level
- Veterancy Units
x500 Any unit (even if they are killed after) that gained at least one level
- Terrain Bonus
x10 Command Points gained by completing this chapter
x1000 Power Points gained by completing this chapter
x100 Resource factor (per 10%) gained by completing this chapter
Some have lambasted this game for recycling old concepts such as special powers, making the player field small armies (limited by Command Points) and being too simple compared to other RTSes, among other things.
- War of the Ring, a similar game produced by Sierra in 2003 based on the books instead.
- The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II
- The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II: The Rise of the Witch-king