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The map of Middle-Earth. When scrolling on locations palantir shows movie scenes

Take command of good or evil armies. Turn the tide in the epic battles to control The One Ring. The vast world of Middle-Earth awaits.

Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle-Earth is a real-time strategy game. Join the Fellowship in it's quest to destroy the One Ring and free the Middle-Earth of evil once and for all, or unite with Sauron the Dark Lord and his corrupted servant Saruman, to bring death and destruction. Both good and evil forces have their own campaigns, with evil being not as long and rich as the good, yet still very interesting and definately worth playing for it's alternative approach.

Not only that, you will also join other characters like Faramir, Eomer, Ents, Lurtz or Sharku to see the action from a different angle, things you haven't witnessed in Peter Jackson's movies. The story although known (for those who have read the books or seen the movies) is nevertheless fun to go through since you're in control and actively take part in it. When starting campaign, you have the most famous map of Middle-Earth shown in 3D before your eyes. Narrated by either Sir Ian McKellen (Gandalf) or Sir Christopher Lee (Saruman), player chooses locations available (sometimes just one, sometimes more) to click and proceed with the game. What's important, locations you click on have some bonuses as a reward when finishing. It may be increasing command point limit, resources multiplier or power points - used for Evenstar and One Ring powers. And when you decide on where to go, the game moves on to real-time battle map.

Apart from basic units, each faction has heroes to offer. You can recruit couple heroes if you like. Every one of them has special powers. It can be healing, various types of power ups, destructive forces, training allies or boosting morale for nearby troops. There are also special powers - using Evenstar or One Ring - higly effective and can make a huge difference during battles. Some of those are rechargable after using and some are passive abilities, giving the bonus constantly. Not counting few campaign maps, normally player starts with a base location, such as castle or outpost. It is a place to build up in order to expand and upgrade the army. Defensive structures and siege works capabilities also apply, making the game harder and much more interesting. It's possible to build many farms, camps and even more castles - depending on map - however the locations for that are fixed.

Battles are realistic. Using pikemen for example, you can't defeat soldiers with swords, but you have great advantage over the horse riders. And again, you will easily defeat small band of any close range fighting troops with archers, but stand no chance to mounted force. As you proceed with building up, more upgrades become available. Some buildings upgrade themselves over time, but with other you have to produce, whether soldiers or equipment in order to push for next level. Units which receive new weapons or armours are a lot stronger - and it is clearly visible. Sometimes, they are even too strong. But that's not the only way of making the army advanced. If you balance your forces well and keep the men alive, they will gain level ups. Simply put - one group of soldiers at high level, can easily defeat few other weaker groups. Possibility of combining the troops together, like archers with swordsmen is a nice addition, but there is no option to split them back.

Visuals are just great. Every detail is well made, colors are rich and special effects like Evenstar or One Ring powers look amazing. You will be happy to witness very good looking 3D Middle-Earth map when selecting course of action, with Nazguls and Eagles flying in the air, rivers flowing, Sauron's eye gazing upon the lands or smoke coming out from Mount Doom, as well as the real-time performance.

Music and sound effects are priceless. Literally. Speaking of music first, it's a mix of  Howard Shore's movie score and EA's creation - very similar to the original so you won't even notice when it plays. Believe me, when you make some crucial actions in game, and if by any chance (and if you play often it will eventually happen) your actions will coordinate with music - it's just wonderful. When playing with good forces, music will be more delicate yet sometimes strong, uplifting. While playing as evil forces, it will be more agressive, dark, heavy. Sound effects are amazing. Animals, water creeks, storm, rain, units, special powers - splendid. Even buildings have their own specific sound when clicking on them, distinctive to their function. And of course voice acting. There is no full movie cast, but most of the actors have lend their voices for the maximum experience, and those who haven't - voice acting can be hardly distinguished.

Online gaming - available and of course much more of a challenge. Forget about hiding in your castle and waiting to become strong, if you do - you're basically finished. In order to stand against online enemies, player has to go out a lot and fight neutral enemies, goblins or wargs. The reward is simple yet very important - experience and level up. As mentioned before it gives the upper hand of battles and in this game, the faster you gain those values the better for you. Of course, that's not the only factor.

Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle-Earth is a fantastic cake for all Tolkien-hungry people. Having gameplay, visuals, music and sound effects at top level, it is bound to grab anyone interested in LotR (and not only) for a long time.

Random good forces army. With Gandalf and summoned elves and Eagles