The Battle for Middle Earth has begun...
The resurgence of J. R. R. Tolkein's The Lord of the Rings has been inspired by director Peter Jackson's epic movies with the third instalment, the Return of the King opening on the 26th of December 2003. The gaming world has also seen a boom of Lord of the Rings based merchandise from arcade action games to in-depth role-playing adventures but neither of these games have actually shown the true scale of the battles that plague Middle Earth... until now!
The Lord of the Rings: War of the Ring (now known as War of the Ring for this review) is the latest game to handle the franchise that uses the extremely powerful Warcraft III engine to retell the tale of Frodo Baggins and the one ring. On first glance of the game, one could be excused to think that this is actually Warcraft but as you soon start to indulge in the storyline, you soon discover that this is in fact Middle Earth and not the world of Azeroth.
Depending on which campaign players choose from, gamers have a variety of races at their disposal that include the mighty humans of Gondor to the Deadly Orcs of Sauron and various other denizens of Middle Earth such as the demonic Balrog. In its essence, War of the Ring is a real-time strategy that combines elements of various role-playing games with a touch of arcade goodness to help with the mix of this enriching title. There are two campaigns that are available in this title, that of good or evil.
Gamers who select the good campaign start off in the Misty Mountains and follow various members of the fellowship that include Gimli, Legolas and Boromir before they gather at Rivendale. The game also recreates key battles in Middle Earth such as Helm's Deep and other important moments of Middle Earth history. On certain missions, the player must gather resources to create their towns such as ore and food. There are also a variety of units that you can create from the stock standard soldiers to the deadly ring wraiths as you embark on your campaigns. After finishing the twenty missions that is spread over two huge campaigns, gamers can also indulge in a very in-depth multiplayer mode that ensures that this game will be played again and again.
The missions of the game are varied and challenging that range from rescue missions to resource building and of course epic battles between the armies of Middle Earth. As with Warcraft III, War of the Ring also contains "hero" units that have various powers and abilities that are vital for completing missions and help add to the RPG element of this title. War of the Ring unfortunately suffers from some very unstable artificial intelligence that is a combination of cunningness and stupidity.