The Lord Of The Rings: Battle For Middle-Earth II is a real-time strategy game set in the Lord Of The Rings universe. Based heavily upon the movie adaptation of the novels, fans of the movie will feel familiar with the characters, music and overall feel of the game. I haven't played the first game in the series so I won't be comparing the differences between the games.
The story mode takes place around the northern continent as seen here in Rivendell.
The game has two different major modes to play. The first is the standard story line RTS campaign that fans of this genre are familiar with. The second option I found was very similar to Risk. Called the War Of The Ring, the player takes turns against an opponent to control the board game set on the Middle-Earth continent. The usual free-for-all skirmish is also there plus a multiplayer mode. Finally an option to create a hero and choose its stats and abilities is available for the player to use.
The story mode lets the player choose between the good or evil forces of Middle-Earth. The majority of the story takes place on the northern part of the continent. Heroes, like in World Of WarCraft III, are used to aid the player in battle. Over time the troops and heroes level up and gain new skills and spells. Along with these new abilities another set of skills and spells are also learned as the player kills the opponent. Points are accumulated and the player can spend these points and progress along a family tree like fashion all the way to the bottom. Not all skills can be bought so this adds a bit of customizability. Some of these spells include causing an earthquake to demolish buildings or summoning a Balrog to aid in the battle for a short time.
The construction of the base is very straightforward. The player can build structures to create warriors, archers, cavalry and other units. Upgrades can be made to decrease the time to build these units or make them more powerful. Resource collecting is unique. No longer building a mine on a gold vein or a lumber mill near a forest, you can build a resource collecting structure anywhere on the terrain. But these structures will display a percentage of the overall effectiveness of resources collected so they must be spread out. The base can be fortified by the usual walls, sentry towers and other structures.
The new gameplay mode look is similar to Risk.
The other part of the game called the War Of The Ring is totally different and adds a new depth to the game. Players each turn use three different phases to rule the continent divided up into sections such as the territories found in Risk. In the first phase titled "Tactical", players are asked to either construct buildings that can create troops, build attacking units, or move them to an adjacent territory. The next phase is titled "Battle". If there are any contested territories the player can either choose to play the battle or let the computer simulate a battle and determine the winner based upon the number of units each side has and skill sets.
The other game aspects include the usual skirmish free-for-all, multiplayer mode, but one additional new one. The player can create a hero of their own to use during these games. Standard options likewise found in other RPG games can be changed such as appearance and stats.
The game is very easy to understand if players are familiar with the RTS genre of games. Other than being set in the Lord Of The Rings universe, there isn't much original and unique gameplay. The graphics are very nice along with the music that takes from the original movie score. The only original aspects of the game would be the War Of The Ring aspect of the game. The Lord Of The Rings: Battle For Middle-Earth II is an overall good game in general but nothing really groundbreaking in gameplay. The game is a recommended buy if the player is a die-hard fan of the movies and would like to explore more of the back story of The Lord Of The Rings.