Lord Of The Rings: Battle For Middle Earth II

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Lord Of The Rings: Battle For Middle Earth II
Game: Lord Of The Rings: Battle For Middle Earth II
Platform: Xbox 360
Studio: EA
Rating: 8.5/10

GAME DESCRIPTION: Command the epic battles of Middle-earth™ from your living room couch in The Lord of the Rings™, The Battle for Middle-earth™ II for the Xbox 360™. The highly anticipated PC game will make its exclusive console debut when it ships in Summer 2006! To add to the intensity of the experience, The Lord of the Rings, The Battle for Middle-earth II for the Xbox 360 is the first game in The Lord of the Rings™ series that will be playable over Xbox LIVE™*. Challenge friends online and engage in intense, action-packed real-time battles.
Based on the PC version of the same name, The Lord of the Rings, The Battle for Middle-earth II for the Xbox 360 will bring players into the heart of Middle-earth to live the battles seen in the blockbuster New Line Cinema films and classic J.R.R. Tolkien literary fiction. The game boasts a new and intuitive console-specific control scheme that will allow novice players to enjoy the game’s signature strategy gameplay while giving expert players the flexibility needed to engage in a deeply complex strategy experience. Directly control hundreds of units in an attempt to defeat enemy armies, conquer new lands, and seal the fate of Middle-earth.
Key Features

* The Middle-earth you have never seen brought to life on the Xbox 360! The unification of the book and film rights have unlocked a world of Middle-earth – new races, places, heroes, and battles from the books and films are yours to command.
* Command the most epic battles of Middle-earth from your living room couch. Directly control and manage hundreds of units and engage in intense, action-packed real-time battles.
* Challenge friends online and battle it out via Xbox LIVE. The game features exclusive new multiplayer games including King of the Hill, Capture and Hold, and Hero versus Hero.
* First The Lord of the Rings strategy game for any console system and first game in The Lord of the Rings series for the Xbox 360.
* New and intuitive console-specific control scheme that makes it possible to experience and enjoy the strategy genre on the Xbox 360.
* Customize fortresses or choose to build anywhere! Craft your own landmark castle and create signature units including naval ships or Elven and Dwarven heroes.
* Hugo Weaving reprises his role as Lord Elrond lending his voice and likeness to the game. Weaving offers the game’s overarching tone by guiding players in and out of each good and evil mission within the single player campaigns.

PLAY: It’s been a long time waiting for a good RTS game and there is no better company than EA to work it out. The fact that EA has made a good RTS game and again mined gold from the Lord of the Rings franchise is amazing.

EA has done well to bring the usual keyboard and mouse movements and translated them to the joystick with great results. Not much has changed from the PC version of Middle Earth II to the Xbox 360.

The tutorial does a great job proving how well EA implemented the PC version into a console. The tutorial should be mandatory. Without playing through the tutorial you’ll be lost immediately as to how to play the game. Those ten minutes to roll through the tutorial are worth every valuable second.

The single game campaign is fun—there is no doubt. With eight lengthy missions, gameplay lasts for quite some time. You can earn heroes along the way that increase the strength of your army. Speaking of the armies, this isn’t like the other console Lord of the Rings releases—this is more like Civilization except you control elves, dwarves, and goblins.

The controls aren’t perfect, well maybe they are—but we found it tough to send different groups into different battles. It takes some of your strategy away—but again that might be our lack of intelligence or laziness. It might also be that the few times we tried to separate troops we ended up leaving ourselves vulnerable with late reactions.

There is also an element of building different areas such as farms, training grounds, walls, and so on. It’s often very tedious. It might have been fun to have shortcuts such as the ability to create all available buildings within an area as you end up doing just that.

Another great option is going online where you can go head-to-head in a match to total destruction, King of the Hill, Capture and Hold, and more. On the negative side there is no way to play offline with more than one player.

GRAPHICS: On an HDTV it’s easy to see the limitations. The textures are lacking great details. The animations look good but get choppy and have times where they slowdown. The bigger the battle the slower the framerate—its never so bad however that it impedes game play. Then again, the game has amazing environments and the characters are fantastic.

SOUND: EA is always great with creating stunning soundtracks. The Lord of the Rings soundscapes is always perfect and this is no different. The sound effects are just as good. Hugo Weaving’s narration is fabulous.

FRANKLY: EA has scored big Lord of the Rings: The Battle For Middle Earth II . Bring a real RTS game from the PC to the Xbox 360 is a thing of beauty. Lord of the Rings: The Battle For Middle Earth II is one of the best games released yet for the Xbox 360. Run out now and buy it!

+ Richie Wright

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