|The Lord of the Rings: War of the Ring|
ESRB: Teen (T)
The Lord of the Rings: War of the Ring is a 2003 real-time strategy game (RTS) developed by Liquid Entertainment, the makers of the previous Battle Realms and its expansion, Winter of the Wolf, and published by Sierra Entertainment. Set in Middle-earth, it expands upon the events of the War of the Ring as told in his fantasy novel, The Lord of the Rings. Unlike the later The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth by Electronic Arts, War of the Ring is based solely on the books, not the films by Peter Jackson. Thus, units like Frodo and Aragorn look and sound different from their counterparts as depicted in the films and the game.The game features a horde of different warriors that can be employed by one of the two available faction, Free Peoples and Forces of Sauron, referred to as Good and Evil in the game. Environments range from The Mouths of Entwash to the barren stretches of Mordor, and each contain numerous settings, including ruins, elvish castles, and Dwarven mines. Despite its mystical appearance, and fairly diverse three dimensional environments and buildings, the game has been the subject of some criticism, due to the fact that its style of play is highly similar to that of Warcraft III. Its production being received by fans as mediocre, The Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth, which was considered a major hit, followed closely in its footsteps.
The game plays much like Warcraft III with added features, some previously used in Battle Realms. A similar layout and control system is used, and the player gets to control hero units with special abilities. Most regular units also have abilities of their own. The game also follows standard RTS conventions by having rally points, unit creation and purchase of upgrades at certain buildings, et cetera.
Some features from Battle Realms that were carried over include toggleable walking and running for units and the ability to set buildings on fire. The game also emulates Battle Realms’ yin and yang system, where combat experience (or special actions) would provide a special resource that could be used to buy upgrades or units. This resource is called Yin or Yang in the previous game, depending on the faction being used, and is called Fate here. The player can use Fate Points (gained in combat) to summon heroes, purchase their special abilities, and activate special faction-specific Fate Powers that will aid him or her in gameplay (such as summoning an Ent or a Balrog). Also, some influence from Warcraft III can be seen, with the Minions of Sauron corrupting land with "war posts" before they can build upon it — very similar to Warcraft's blight.
Unique to the game are the Places of Power, monuments that award bonuses (like increased armor or attack) if controlled by the player. The player takes control of one by either finding on the map (by having a unit go near it) or wresting it from the foe (killing guards, if any, or else taking it when left unguarded).
The game features two factions to choose from: The Free Peoples of Middle-earth (the good side), and The Minions of Sauron (the evil). The Free Peoples include Men – such as those of Gondor and Rohan, the Dúnedain of the North, and the Beornings – as well as the Elves and the Dwarves. Playable heroes on this side include the Company of the Ring, as well as leaders such as Faramir and Erkenbrand. The Minions of Sauron include the various kinds of Orcs and Goblins, Wargs (ridden by the Orcs), Trolls, the Haradrim, and the giant spiders of Mirkwood. Playable Evil heroes include Gollum and the Witch-king of Angmar.
The game features a Good and an Evil campaign, in which one fights the War of the Ring from opposing sides. The game does not actually dwell on prominent battles such as the Battle of the Pelennor Fields (the Battle of the Hornburg is featured in the Good campaign, though) but rather presents scenarios based upon Tolkien’s writings (with varying degrees of license taken). For example, the Good campaign starts with Gimli and the Dwarves fighting the Orcs in the Iron Hills, and one Evil mission has Grishnákh destroying the Beacons of Gondor. A relatively more faithful scenario is the defense of Osgiliath with Boromir and Faramir.
The game also features a multiplayer mode of gameplay, where players fight against either the computer (skirmish) and/or other humans (via network) on preset or user-created maps. Like Battle Realms, this mode includes several variations like Razing and Survival.
The entire game is divided into several playable categories. Players have the power to chose from playing a single skirmish game as either Good or Evil, a campaign game as either Good or Evil, or an online game with other players as Good or Evil. In addition to these the player may also take the tutorial, a preset game that explains the way to move, attack, and order aroung your troops. Playing the skirmish game is the simplest of the three main options, as no storyline is involved, and thus the player can utilise the full array of soldiers, spells and building available. Playing a campaign game is very different, as a storyline is involved, and the player must follow that predetermined storyline in order to advance to the next stage of the campaign. Online play is the same as the skirmish, with the exception that you play against another player rather than a computer.Whilst playing, you will order a variety of troops around using the mouse, these troops will vary depending on your faction, and use them to fulfill the predetermined victory condition, usually the destruction of your enemy faction. Occasionally, troops you control will come into contact with enemies, and battle will be optional. During battle, troops health will be reduced with each blow from the enemy, although this can be altered with healing or protecting spells. When a units health is fully reduced, it dies, or in the case of heroes, vanishes in a beam of light. Heroes that have been killed may be regenerated at the camp, though losing one in a campaign may be a losing condition. At the camp, troops are created from a number of buildings, provided there are sufficient resources with which to do so, which range from barracks to stables, and, as with troops, are destroyed when under prolonged attack from enemies. Spells and sorceries also come into play, and can boost the effieciency of your troops, or cause damage to enemies.Spells can only be cast once sufficient Fate has been gathered, and depending on the strength of the spell, the amount of Fate required increases. Fate is gathered by performing acts of great damage on enemies, and the destruction of something such as an enemy camp will provide a fair deal of it.
Units from both factions vary, some possessing powers that help troops around them, or themselves, and fit into a number of different categories, infantry, archers, cavalry and monsters.
Listed below are the available units for the game and their respective powers and abilities.
- The Fellowship (Sam, Merry, Pippin, and Boromir are campaign-only; Frodo costs no Fate)
- Faramir (Osgiliath Scenario-only)
- Théoden (Campaign-only)
- Erkenbrand (Campaign-only)
- Human Worker
- Elf Worker (Campaign-only)
- Dwarf Worker (Campaign-only)
- Gondor Swordsman
- Ranger (of the North) – detects invisible units
- Rider of Rohan
- Rohan Archer (campaign-only)
- Beorning – can heal as a human and fight well as a bear
- Elven Archer – can move invisibly when upgraded
- Elven Lightbearer – spellcaster wielding the Light of Eärendil
- Elf-warden (Elven spearmen – campaign-only)
- Dwarf Axethrower – can throw flaming axes
- Dwarf Shieldbreaker – temporarily decreases armor of units it is fighting.
- Huorn – can root into the ground to entangle units around him and increase his healing rate
Minions of SauronEdit
- Saleme (an original character; an assassin of Harad)
- Gollum (costs no Fate)
- Witch-king of Angmar
- Other Nazgûl (summoned by the Witch-king)
- Shelob (Giant Spider Non`Controlled Character)
- Goblin Worker
- Goblin Slavemaster – increases population cap, like Zerg Overlords in StarCraft
- Goblin Spearman - move very fast as well as attack if upgraded
- Orc Slasher
- Orc Bowman – can shoot flaming arrows
- Warg Rider
- Troll Bonecleaver - best tanker of evil side, he can use his fury axe to damage all nearby units around him
- Troll Stonethrower - can hurl large boulders at the enemy, it especially effect against group of units when upgraded
- Haradrim Slayer – can move invisibly when upgraded, and shoot poison darts
- Uruk-hai – shoots arrows that knock back enemies except for mounted units and heroes
- Giant Spider – immobilizes with webs and with poison
- Wraith – detects invisible units as well as blind their foes around them
- Barrow-wight (campaign-only)