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WNxThade
09-24-2004, 12:06 PM
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Preview: Battle for Middle Earth
The Battle for middle earth


Platform: PC
Genre: RTS
Date of Release: November
ESRB: not determined yet
Publisher: EA Games
Developer: EALA

One line summary: A Lord of the rings themed RTS game with beautiful graphics and some innovating gameplay aspects.

One Ring to rule them all,
One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all
and in the darkness bind them.


The almost legendary books by J.R.R. Tolkien have often been an inspiration for artists. While the movies were a great success, the games were less popular. Three hack&slash games and one RTS game are the result of this immense popular story, but couldn’t convince because of a lack of quality. And now a second RTS games based on the movie awaits release. But this game definitely looks as if it would make the best Lord of the rings game so far. Let’s see what makes this game so highly anticipated.

The ring, always the ring. And yet again in battle for middle earth (bfme), the ring will be the centre point of interest. The evil lord sauron will have the objective to capture this ring of power. On the other hand Frodo and his companions have to destroy the ring off course.

It's a dangerous business going out your front door.
For those who have been living on the moon the last few years, I’ll give a brief wrapping up of the story. An evil lord named sauron has aroused from the darkness and is looking for “The ring.” This ring will make him almost invincible and will grant him total domination over the world called “middle earth.” But few stand up against this lord and gather the forces willing to stand up against evil and darkness. And then there is a creature called a “hobbit” who finds the ring. He now stands for the most legendary quest ever on the surface of middle earth. He has the objective to carry the ring to the fires of mount doom; located in the land of Sauron where he needs to toss the ring into the fires of this volcano and destroy it once and for all.

Commanding those armies!
You will be able to play as good or bad side in over 25 missions, who can be recognized in the three movies. The story will evolve in these 25 missions around the decisions, victories and losses you make. The campaign will be non-linear. Destroying Rivendel of the homeland of our beloved hobbits will be out of the question, but destroying Minas Tirith for example is possible. The developers decided that giving you the freedom to go and destroy wherever you want would not improve the gameplay and therefore these elements were not included. You will begin your fights by moving your troops over an interactive map of middle earth. Then after a cinematic the action will take place. This way you can move your armies to the desired locations and make your attack plans on the scale of the whole middle earth. You will be able to play the legendary missions such as the fight over Helms Deep and Minas Tirith. And these missions will likely playable with the two sides.

But not all battles will be as massive as the ones stated before. Smaller missions, such as guiding our beloved fellowship through the dark mines of Moria will equally test your capabilities as RTS strategist. In the smaller missions you will need to use the strong points and spells of your heroes. I would compare it to warcraft where there are also missions to complete with only one or more heroes (and often some soldiers).

In bfme your troops will attack in squads who are called hordes in the game. One of the objectives in bfme was not to force the player to go into micromanagement. That’s why you won’t be able to control a single unit. And a complex tech tree is also out of order. To replace the lack of an immense tech trees, a system called building veterans was developed. This will mean buildings will create stronger units when they have enough experience. For example, you make an archer with 100 hp, but after you’ve built 20 archers and the building has gained experience on how to train archers the next archer will have 110hp.

What also seems is promising aspect of bfme is the emotional aspect of your troops. Enemies and allies will no longer be brainless puppets who attack hundreds of orcs on their own. They will be struck with fear when opposed versus a giant Balrog or a furious Ent. They will flee in fear and it’s your job then to get your army on their feet again.

Seeing units cry and flee, reality!?
The developers have put forth their interface as a revolution in the field of strategic games and probably one of the strong points of the game. Promises always seem great but bringing the concept to reality always makes it less revolutionary and innovating. There will be no huge taskbar at the bottom of your screen where you can select the required action. Instead there will be a rather small ellipse at the left bottom where the map and heroes thumbnails and actions can be selected. To produce units, you will simply right-click on the building in question and then select the unit or upgrade. This new system should not draw your attention from the battlefield and make it easier to command your armies.

The four sides
Forces of light
Gondor
Heroes: Gandalf, Boromir and Faramir
Advantages/disadvantages: Gondor has a solid defence with its strong archers and his mighty walls. The resource producing buildings can be placed within the city walls which creates a huge defensive advantage. Another strong point is the ghost army (the Oathbreakers) that can be called for the rescue once in a while.

Rohan
Heroes: Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Theodon, Eowyn, Eomer
Advantages/disadvantages: Like the movie Rohan has the most powerful, but very expensive cavalry. This will force you to work with smaller groups. One of their weak points is their lack of stone buildings, so keep the water ready to put out those fires! Despite their weak buildings and pricey cavalry, their powerful allies such as the Ents and the Elves.

Forces of evil
Isengard
Heroes: Saruman, Lurtz
Advantages/disadvantages: Hordes and hordes of Uruk-hai will be awaiting your orders as great leader of the dark forces. As seen in movies and screenshots these can ascend to more then 1000 units. Downside however is that a lot of resources will be needed for the upkeep of such a gigantic army.

Mordor
Heroes: Nazgul, Witch King
Advantages/disadvantages: Mordor will have almost the same advantages of Isengard, but the amount of orcs will even be greater. You will get a stream of orcs spawning every x minutes. But orcs aren’t only used to battle against the mighty riders of rohan. Let them fight against each other. This way the champions will gain experience and become stronger. Another creative way to deal with orcs is to feed them to your battle trolls, who need food to deal their mighty blows.

Gallery
Screenshots
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Movies
Official site movie page (streamed)
Gamespot movies (streamed)

Lord of the rings on your pc screen, better then the movie?
The Command and conquer: generals engine was the base for the engine that’s now used in bfme. However this engine has been tuned, by making the minimum resolution 1024x768 and the numbers of polygons who can be displayed at the same time have been multiplied by 14. Generals was already a fantastic looking game and bfme looks even better now. The thousand of units all look very detailed and I must say, I personally find this a better engine then used in Rome: total war. One of the reasons could be that the producers of the movie granted access to the game developers over all the models, costumes, etc. used in the movie. This makes the orcs for example resemble very hard on our bloodthirsty orcs as seen in the movie .The downside will be very high system requirements. But let’s not worry too much yet about the system requirements.

Sources
PC Gameplay magazine
Official site
Gamespot coverage


Why this game will become part of your collection
Simply because this will make one of the RTS games for 2004 (or 2005 let’s hope not). The awesome graphics, the fantastic theme and the strategy innovations will make this game a tough competitor for the recently released Rome: total war. Few elements can prevent this game from making the 2004 best games list, so to all RTS fans: watch this game and get it as soon as it hits the shelves!!!

WNxThade



 
 
 

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WNxPapug
09-24-2004, 12:28 PM
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hmmm too much to read 4 me ;D

but look cool



 
 
 

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WNxAlexTaldren
09-24-2004, 01:10 PM
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Nice Review. I'm sure my brother will get this being he is a LOTR fanatic!

- [ AT ] -



 
 
 

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United Kingdom WNxIronheart
09-24-2004, 02:55 PM
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Taurens make me horny
Very nice work there as always Thade.



 
 
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WNxPython
09-24-2004, 05:08 PM
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Very nice preview m8. Really informative. Im not that big of a LOTR fan but this looks fantastic.



 
 
 

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WNxTHeLeGeNDaRYROcKY
09-24-2004, 08:53 PM
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Does it cost to play online if not there is no dout i will get it



 
 
 

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England WNxIngeronic
09-25-2004, 02:48 AM
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very good sept the link dont work, well didnt for me for the offical site..
i will most likely be getting this.



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WNxThade
09-25-2004, 05:05 AM
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Quote:
Does it cost to play online if not there is no dout i will get it
No, it will not cost to play online.

Quote:
very good sept the link dont work, well didnt for me for the offical site..
i will most likely be getting this.
I checked all the links and they all work for me.



Last edited by WNxThade; 09-25-2004 at 05:07 AM..
 
 
 

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WNxRulingA
09-25-2004, 05:54 AM
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Im hoping this game will re-animate the failing RTS genre.

Great review



 
 
 

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WNxDownY
09-25-2004, 07:20 AM
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Dude this is a very impressive preview. Mine sux balls compared to this one. I cant help but think movie-orientated games do not usually prove that awesome on the market. However the screenies are really sexy in this and I am quite looking forward to what is gonna be happening with this one.

Thank you thade,

~\DownY/~



 
 
 

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WNxHoboJ
09-25-2004, 12:02 PM
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I can't wait for this game. It looks wonderfuly great
~HoboJ~



 
 
 

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England WNxIngeronic
09-25-2004, 04:27 PM
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this will be a gr8 game, i recon it will be for 2 types of peopl though, die hard LOTR fans or die hard RTS fans, because it will be based mainly on speed i think.



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WNx Mad Devil
09-25-2004, 08:12 PM
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Quote:
Im hoping this game will re-animate the failing RTS genre.
buy ground control II


Nice review, i need to get this game cause its the PwNaGe



 
 
 

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WNxFrost
09-25-2004, 11:22 PM
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wow man those screenshots are wicked



 
 
 

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Iceland WNxToto
09-26-2004, 03:59 AM
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great preview



 
 
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WNxNoBigThing
09-26-2004, 06:35 AM
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Nice job WNxThade! This was one out of 3 games that I'm REALLY looking forward to. I also read a lot about in PC Gameplay (Hey, Belgian gaming magazine power - right? ) and this seems to become a really really good game. Those movies included in the PC Gameplay #100 were soOoO cool

Nice preview Thade. Let's all buy this game and become huuuuuge addicts when it gets released.



 
 
 

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WNxLoki
09-26-2004, 06:41 AM
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ive been waiting for this game for a long time, awsome review bro, cant wait for the release.



 
 
 

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WNxThade
09-26-2004, 07:47 AM
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Quote:
Nice job WNxThade! This was one out of 3 games that I'm REALLY looking forward to. I also read a lot about in PC Gameplay (Hey, Belgian gaming magazine power - right? ) and this seems to become a really really good game. Those movies included in the PC Gameplay #100 were soOoO cool

Nice preview Thade. Let's all buy this game and become huuuuuge addicts when it gets released.
Jep, it's the belgian magazine



 
 
 

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WNxColor
10-08-2004, 12:15 AM
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Sweet review and game looks cool but since its the same dev team that did CnC Gen + Zero and the lack of support from EA Im not gona get this one even do it looks really well lets just hope they dont do what they allways do desert there games as soon as they sold enough boxes.



 
 
 

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Germany WNxZero-Hero
12-12-2004, 03:10 PM
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wow nice summary, i tell you guys, you have to buy it, it owns



 
 
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