Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II (PC) Demo Impressions

Earlier this week, I decided to see how well my improved DSL connection was really doing by downloading the demo for The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II (PC). A few months ago when I went to download it, it would have taken me about 24 hours. This past week, I did it in an hour. Not only am I impressed with the speed of my net connection, I'm also enjoying the demo.

Basically, I have this thing where I tend to hate all RTSes that are not developed by Blizzard Entertainment. Blizzard's RTSes are so well put together, that any others I've tried have been crap in comparison. While I did not find The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II demo to be revolutionary, it is the first RTS I've tried in 4 years to really catch my attention, and I was surprised to find that I didn't hate it.

The demo features the basic and advanced tutorial, played with the Men of the West faction, as well as a Single Player skirmish mode allowing the Dwarves and Goblins to be controlled/fought against.

The tutorial was, of course, simple to complete, but it was fun controlling battalions of infantry, archers, and cavalry; to have them all line up in realistic formations, and to simply kick some Goblin ass.

I tinkered with the skirmish mode today, and though I got my butt whooped every time, I found it fun, and easy to get into; I was simply lacking in proper build orders and a solid understanding of the game's resource model.

Basically, I've enjoyed it well enough that my dear parents are ordering the Collector's Edition for my upcoming birth day, though I'll probably get to play it earlier. The game's Campaigns take place parallel to the events of the War of the Ring, and are set in the north. In the novels, and hinted at in the Extended Edition of The Return of the King, it was noted that there was a grand war also happening in the north around the Misty Mountains and the Dwarven kingdom of Erebor neighboured with Dale, a kingdom of Men. The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II will apparently tell this tale, and I'm interested to see this part of Middle-earth expanded and fleshed out, even if it isn't perfectly consistent with the source material.

Once I get it I'll post some impressions, and ultimately a review. I'm also interested to try Multiplayer and see how well that stacks up to Blizzard's masterpieces.

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