|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 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.
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 and Uruk-Hai.
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.
War of the RingEdit
The Fellowship makes the dangerous trek through the ancient halls, surviving orc attacks, the ambush at the chamber of Mazarbul, and even Balrog of Morgoth . This mission takes the alternate storyline of Gandalf to meet up with the rest of the Fellowship outside.
Having escaped Moria, the Fellowship is still being pursued by vicious orcs. 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 orcs, 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.
In this epic clash, the city must be defended against Sauron's oncoming forces.
The forces of Gondor must defend Minas Tirith and drive the Uruk-hai out. In this alternate storyline, Eowyn can survive and accompany Gondor's armies to the Black Gates of Mordor.
Rise of SauronEdit
Saruman, allying himself with Sauron, must build up an army of orcs, as well as driving off invading Elves, Ents, and Rohirrim.
- Fangorn Forest
The armies of Saruman must advance into Fangorn and kill Treebeard and his ents before they become a serious threat.
- Amon Hen
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 and wipe them out.
The city of Osgiliath is a key border point to launch an assault on Gondor. Raze the defenses to the ground.
- Cirith Ungol
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 assaults Minas Tirith to crush the city.
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