"The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle Earth" is a real-time strategy game for PC's that was made by the people who made such classics as "Dune 2" and the "Command & Conquer" games. The game is obviously based on J.R.R. Tolkien's famous' trilogy, but also very much by the Peter Jackson movie adaptations, in terms of design, voice acting, and original music.
The game presents two "campaign" modes, in which you basically conquer various territories of Middle Earth until there is nothing left to conquer, and a skirmish mode that let's you do single standalone battles either against the computer, or against other players over the Internet.
The "Good Campaign" lets you take control of the members of the Fellowship, as well as other important characters and various armies both of Rohan and Gondor. Most of the missions involve raising an army, building bases and conquering the map, while some focus on key events from the movies. Interestingly, this story mode deviates from both the books and the films, and in various ways. For example, Gandalf will face the Balrog, but in this game he can survive the fight and walk away from it perfectly fine. Same goes for Boromir whom you can save from the Uruk-Hai, allowing him to make it to the end of the story in one piece.
Interestingly you can also play an "Evil Campaign" that throws the original story out of the window entirely, allowing you to conquer Middle Earth while doing your very best to destroy those annoying goody two shoe fellowship heroes. In this campaign you get to control the armies of both Mordors orcs and Isengards Uruk-Hai soldiers, and characters such as Saruman, Lurtz, and even some of the fearsome Nazgul.
Well, what can I say? To me, both campaigns have proved to be a lot of fun. In fact I have finished both several times already, and I still can't get enough of this game. The gameplay is excellent, the controls are easy to learn, especially if you play a lot of RTS games.
The graphics are just beautiful to look at, highly detailed, and fully 3D, meaning you can rotate the view, and zoom in. Hero characters such as Frodo or Gandalf are instantly recognizable, as are the various "races" such as orcs, cave trolls, etc. You monitor your game progress from a gorgeous looking animated map, where you control the movement of your troops and decide which territory to attack next.
Now why is this game listed on the IMDb? Well, because it makes great use of voice actors. Both Ian McKellen and Christopher Lee resumed their roles as Gandalf and Saruman, respectively. Other voices were either sampled from the movie, or read by other voice actors; such is the case for Aragorn, where the replacement actor, Chris Edgerly, did a great job; he really sounds like Viggo Mortensens Aragorn. Also worthy of mentioning is Simon Templeman, who provides several voices for the game, such as the narrator who explains game concepts in the game's video tutorial. You may know him as the voice of Kain, the vampire anti-hero from the Legacy of Kain game series.
Great use is also made of Howard Shores monumental musical score for the LotR movies, with some additional music done is the same style.
All this greatly enhances the feeling of somehow being "in the movie".
The game does have a few flaws though.
The game limits how many units you can build. At the same time, you get to take existing armies with you as you progress through the game; all units gain experience and get better this way. As a result of this you often cannot build new, better units until you somehow get rid of some of your existing ones. The evil side can actually sacrifice units, but the good side does not have any options for disbanding units. This forces you to intentionally play badly and sending some units out to be slaughtered in order to be able to build the units you need.
Also, on occasion "bugs" happen, such as units moonwalking, or getting stuck on the map. For example, recently I had a mumakil (you know, the over-sized elephant-like creatures) get stuck on some bridge; it could be moved around on the bridge, there was plenty of room, but for some reason I couldn't get it off that bridge.
Still, these are minor issues. All in all this is a great game, both for RPG gamers and people who loved the movies.
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