|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 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, characters such as 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 Minions of Sauron, referred to as Good and Evil in the game. Environments range from Mirkwood 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, etc.
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). Some influence from Warcraft III can also 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 Fellowship 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, Saruman, 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 warning 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 around your units. Playing the skirmish game is the simplest of the three main options, as no storyline is involved, and thus the player can utilize 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 units around using the mouse, these units will vary depending on your faction, and use them to fulfill the predetermined victory condition, usually the destruction of your enemy faction. Occasionally, units you control will come into contact with enemies, and battle will be optional. During battle, units' health will be reduced with each blow from the enemy, although this can be altered with healing or protecting spells. When a unit's 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, units 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 efficiency of units 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.
- Frodo: costs no Fate Points to summon; does extra damage to Orc units with his weapon, Sting; can become invisible (to all except the Nazgul) by wearing the One Ring, but at the expense of health.
- Gimli: causes nearby ally units to do extra damage to enemy buildings; can stun enemies; can capture enemy towers.
- Legolas: can fire arrows with knock-back effect; can boost defense of ally units against enemy ranged units; can increase moving speed of ally units.
- Aragorn: does extra damage to enemy Heroes, Wraiths and Nazgul with his weapon, Anduril; immune to being blinded, stunned, poisoned or slowed down; can heal ally units.
- Gandalf: can blind nearby enemies; can prevent enemy units from using their special abilities; can create fire shields on ally units to deflect damage back onto enemies; can summon forth a rain of fire to damage enemy units and buildings within a certain radius.
- Boromir: appears only in Osgiliath and Lothlorien; can blow the Horn of Gondor to knock back nearby enemy units.
- Faramir: appears only in Osgiliath; can fire arrows with knock-back effect (similar to Legolas's).
- Théoden: appears only in Helm's Deep; non-playable character.
- Erkenbrand: appears only in Upbourn and Helm's Deep; can boost Riders' attack power.
- Sam; appears only in Lothlorien.
- Merry; appears only in Lothlorien.
- Pippin; appears only in Lothlorien.
- Man Worker: collects resources and builds buildings.
- Elf Worker (campaign-only): collects resources and builds buildings.
- Dwarf Worker (campaign-only): collects resources and builds buildings.
- Gondor Swordsman: basic melee fighter.
- Ranger: detects invisible units, can become invisible (but must be stationary).
- Rider of Rohan: mounted attacker.
- Rohan Archer (campaign-only): ranged attacker.
- Beorning: can heal friendly units in human form; powerful attacker in bear form.
- Elven Archer: ranged attacker; can become invisible when upgraded.
- Elven Lightbearer: ranged attacker; spellcaster wielding the Light of Eärendil.
- Elven Warden (campaign-only): Elven melee fighter.
- Dwarf Axethrower: ranged attacker; can throw flaming axes.
- Dwarf Shieldbreaker: melee fighter; temporarily decreases armor of units it is fighting.
- Huorn: can become rooted to the ground to entangle enemies around it and use the chance to heal.
- Ent (summoned by using 7 Fate points; can summon only 1 at a time): throws rocks at enemies and their buildings.
Minions of SauronEdit
- Gollum: costs no Fate Points; can become invisible by sneaking (moving a slower speed); attack power triples if he attacks while sneaking (becomes visible again after attacking); can track enemy units over large distances by 'marking' them.
- Grishnákh: can set explosive traps; can throw torches at enemy buildings to set them on fire; can temporarily boost his speed and attack power.
- Saleme (an original character, a Haradrim huntress): can set poison gas traps; can heal nearby ally units; hits multiple targets at the same time with her flying blades.
- Lord of the Nazgul: can transform a maximum of 8 Wraiths into Black Riders; can teleport from War Post to War Post, bringing along any nearby Black Riders and Wraiths; decreases armor class of nearby enemy units; detects Frodo when the latter wears the One Ring.
- Saruman: can immobilize enemy units; can fire an invisible projectile to damage and knock back enemy units within a certain radius; can invoke a disease on enemies within a certain radius, draining their health but does not kill them; can make a non-Hero enemy unit switch allegiance to his side.
- Shelob: appears only in Cirith Ungol; non-playable character; attacks any units (regardless of Good or Evil) around her after she is drawn out of her cave, will retreat after sustaining moderate damage.
- Goblin Worker: collects resources and builds buildings.
- Goblin Slavemaster: increases population capacity by 12 per Slavemaster, like Zerg Overlords in StarCraft.
- Goblin Spearman: weak melee fighter, but moves and attacks fast when upgraded.
- Orc Slasher: basic melee fighter.
- Orc Bowman: ranged attacker, can shoot flaming arrows when upgraded.
- Warg Rider: mounted attacker.
- Troll Bonecleaver: strongest melee fighter, has a sweeping attack which damages all enemies around him.
- Troll Stonethrower: ranged attacker, can throw rocks at enemies from a distance.
- Haradrim Slayer: melee fighter, can become invisible and shoot poison darts when upgraded.
- Uruk-hai: ranged attacker, shoots arrows that knock back all enemies except mounted units, giant units and heroes.
- Giant Spider: stuns enemies with poison when upgraded.
- Wraith: detects invisible units and temporarily blinds enemies around it.
- Black Rider (the Witch-king can transform a maximum of 8 Wraiths into Black Riders, each costing 1 Fate Point): poisons enemies with his Morgul-blade.
- Barrow-wight (campaign-only): similar to Wraith but cannot be upgraded.
- Balrog (summoned by using 7 Fate Points; can summon only 1 at a time): uses a flaming sword to attack enemies and set buildings on fire; has a ground slam attack which knocks back enemies in front of it.
Buildings and structuresEdit
- Stronghold - the first building that must be built; stores resources; produces Workers and Heroes
- Mill - built over a well, for collecting food
- Foundry - built over a pile of ore, for collecting ore
- Camp - increases population capacity by 11; can be upgraded to a War Camp for 4 more slots
- Watchtower - automatically shoots at approaching enemies; can be upgraded to a Ballista Tower for greater attack power
- Barracks - produces Gondor Swordsmen and Rohan Riders
- Ranger Post - produces Rangers
- Dwarf Hall - produces Dwarf Axethrowers and Shieldbreakers
- Elven Sanctuary - produces Elven Archers and Lightbearers
- Nature's Haven - produces Beornings and Huorns
- Forge - provides upgrades for Gondor Swordsmen, Rohan Riders and Dwarves and all buildings
- Wilderness Outpost - provides upgrades for Rangers and Elven Archers
- House of Lore - provides upgrades for Elven Lightbearers, Beornings and Huorns
- War Post - corrupts the land so that evil buildings can be built; can be placed by only Slavemasters
- Goblin Hovel - stores resources; produces Workers, Slavemasters and Goblin Spearmen
- Slaughterhouse - built over a well, for collecting food
- Smelter - built over a pile of ore, for collecting ore
- Fortress of Mordor - produces Heroes
- Tower - automatically shoots at approaching enemies; can be upgraded to shoot poison projectiles
- Orc Mound - produces Orc Slashers, Archers and Uruk-Hais
- Beast Lair - produces Warg Riders and Spiders
- Shadow Lair - produces Wraiths and Haradrim Slayers
- Troll Den - produces Trolls
- Dark Arsenal - provides upgrades for Goblins, Orcs and Towers
- Breeding Pit - provides upgrades for Warg Riders, Spiders and Trolls
- Black Vault - provides upgrades for Wraiths, Haradrim Slayers, Uruk-Hais and Nazgul
- The Grey Ledge (TA 3018): Gimli leads the Dwarves to destroy some Orc camps in the Iron Hills.
- The Siege of the Iron Hills (TA 3018): Gimli leads the Dwarves to defend Thorin's Gate, which is under siege by Orcs. They find a partially built ancient catapult, complete its construction, and use it to destroy the Orc camp near the Gate.
- The Pursuit of Gollum (TA 3018): Legolas leads a group of Elves into Mirkwood in pursuit of Gollum. They encounter Giant Spiders and discover an Orc camp deep in the woods.
- The Bridge of Osgiliath (TA 3018): Boromir and Faramir lead the Men of Gondor and Rohan to defend Osgiliath from Sauron's forces. They destroy the eastern bridge to prevent the enemy from gaining a foothold in the ruined city.
- Orcs in Mirkwood (TA 3018): Legolas leads the Elves to attack and destroy an Orc camp in Mirkwood.
- Assault on Dol Guldur (TA 3018): Legolas discovers the source of the Orc presence in Mirkwood -- Sauron's fortress of Dol Guldur. He leads the Elves to attack Dol Guldur and drive away evil forces commanded by a Nazgul.
- Lothlorien (TA 3019): The Fellowship (excluding Gandalf) takes shelter in Lothlorien after escaping from Moria but the Moria Orcs track them down. They team up with the Elves of Lothlorien to repel the enemy by using the power of Galadriel's Mallorn trees.
- The Liberation of Upbourn (TA 3019): Erkenbrand rallies an army to liberate Upbourn, which has been overtaken by Orcs. He is assisted by Gandalf.
- Helm's Deep (TA 3019): The Battle of the Hornburg. Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli assist Theoden and the Rohirrim in defending Helm's Deep from Saruman's forces. At dawn, Gandalf and Erkenbrand lead reinforcements to Helm's Deep. The Huorns also join the battle.
- Minas Morgul (TA 3019): Aragorn leads the Free Peoples to attack Minas Morgul and cleanse it of Sauron's forces. The city is restored as Minas Ithil.
- The Pass of Cirith Gorgor (TA 3019): Aragorn leads the Free Peoples to attack Sauron's forces and destroy the final Orc camp. Before that, they defeat a Balrog, whose powers are enhanced by three Claws of Gorgoroth.
- The Mouths of Entwash (TA 3018): Grishnakh orders a group of Orcs to escort some Goblin workers through the Wetwang maze to the frontline in Rohan.
- The Beacons of Gondor (TA 3018): Grishnakh leads his troops to destroy a Men camp in the Anorien Valley. The warning beacons of Gondor are alerted to their presence and start calling for help. Grishnakh and his army hold off the reinforcements from Gondor.
- Clearing the Way (TA 1050): The Witch-king leads an army through Mirkwood and destroys an Elven camp along the way.
- Darkness Returns (TA 1050): The Witch-king and his forces take control of five Ancient Temples near Dol Guldur before seizing the fortress from the Elves.
- Sweep of the Trollshaws (TA 1999): Sauron sends four Ringwraiths to 'persuade' the Trolls in Eriador to join his forces. After sustaining some losses, the Trolls agree and help the Ringwraiths destroy a Dwarf camp and a Men camp.
- Saruman's Uruk-Hai (TA ~3001): Saruman gets the Haradrim to help him slay the Wild Men in the Druadan Forest and then creates Uruk-Hais by combining Orcs and Barrow-wights (ghosts of the Wild Men) in a pit inside the forest. After that he and his army destroy an Elven camp and a Men camp.
- The Pass of Cirith Ungol (TA 2000): The Witch-king leads Sauron's forces to destroy a Gondor camp and capture the Tower of Cirith Ungol. They accidentally lure Shelob out of her lair.
- A Hidden Plan (TA 3018): Saleme leads Sauron's forces to attack Upbourn. They destroy a camp outside the town and send Haradrim assassins to kill Wulfhelm, the Captain of Upbourn.
- The Morgul-Road (TA 2000): After capturing Cirith Ungol, the Witch-king leads Sauron's forces along the Morgul-Road towards Minas Ithil. With the aid of another Orc army ahead, they trap and eliminate the Gondor soldiers who are fleeing west.
- The Sacking of Minas Ithil (TA 2002): The Witch-king and the Nazgul lead Sauron's army to conquer Minas Ithil and claim the Palantir on the tower for their master. Minas Ithil is renamed to Minas Morgul.