Get ready for an incredibly meaty acronym...LOTR: TBFME 2 is a real-time strategy title that does what no other Rings game has yet to do: it combines the best of both Tolkien's original literary masterpieces, along with the visual interpretation of Peter Jackson's cinema epics, thanks to snapping up both licenses. Now, flashy RTS titles can be a little bit on the thin side, but thankfully The Battle for MIddle-Earth didn't suffer this fate, and neither does its sequel.
You can start marshalling your forces against the might of Sauron, or alternatively sweep forth from Mordor to plunge the world of Men into chaos, for just £6.99 from GAME. This price will not only net you the game itself, but also, in typical Jackson fashion, a Making of DVD, an interactive art gallery featuring hundreds of examples of concept art and cinematic paintings and, perhaps most excitingly, the full original musical score. You can pick up the standalone game for £5.43 from Amazon, but if you want the Collector's Edition elsewhere, you're looking at paying £2 more over at Gameplay, which would be foolish.
- Click here to buy Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-Earth II Collector's Edition for £6.99 from GAME
It may be a pretty standard RTS underneath, but there's something a bit special about The Battle for Middle-Earth II. There's none of that feeling of licence weariness that so often accompanies cash-ins on a popular title, in fact you'd even go so far as to say that far from a simple plan for a quick buck, this has been somewhat of a labour of love.
The game looks a bit dated, admittedly, but the EA has finally married the innovative command wheel with the freedom to build your base anywhere you damn well please. There will be a few jarring plot issues for Tolkien puritans, and I'd say that you'd be nuts to write this game off because of one of two tweaks, but the fact of the matter is that EA plays pretty fast and loose here with the narrative material. It should not, however, put you off at all as it's very clear that EA has listened intently to the clamours of the Tolkien fanbase after the first game. The plot might not be there, but this is most certainly Tolkien's world.
The Battle for Middle-Earth II does an absolutely grand job of recreating the war-torn Third Age and placing you right in the centre of it. Some of the new elements work brilliantly (the hero maker, the wonderful War of the Ring mode), some less so (the naval battles, no Fellowship interludes), and the cut-scenes are unintentionally hilarious. But this will delight most RTS fans, and a good number of LOTR fans too, and should be considered verging on a 'must-buy' for either of those two parties.
Thanks to quazilogic at HUKD