<< Portico: Battle for Middle Earth 2 rocks

3/27/2006

Battle for Middle Earth 2 rocks

Or so says my review at Strategy Zone.

There is no perfect game, and Battle for Middle Earth II is no exception. But it is one of the best real time strategy games I've ever played.

In the end, it boils down to elegance. Battle for Middle Earth II has six races, each with completely unique units. There are two alignments with different power trees. And each race has unique heroes (except for the good and evil super-heroes). All of this could get confusing.

Somehow it doesn't. The units mostly fit a rock/scissors/paper setup, but this is blown apart by the addition of trolls, heroes and the occasional flying beastie. The counters are usually pretty obvious in any case. After all, only archers can hit the airborne enemies, and heroes usually fit a couple of templates.

And even if you don't precisely know which counter to use, it probably doesn't affect your enjoyment because the game is glorious in so many ways. Heroes can take stands against hordes of enemies. Fellbeasts and dragons swoop to attack and then must reorient for their next pass. Tom Bombadil sings and dances your enemies to death.

BfME2, like its predecessor, is more for fans of the movie than fans of the book. There really isn't enough random Middle Earth lore for your typical Tolkien geek. Things are meant to look good and brave (or evil and devious), so the game is solid evidence that good art design and colorful graphics can affect gameplay. Whatever "immersion" is, the clean look of Battle for Middle Earth II contributes to it.

Now, this is an Electronic Arts game and it is fashionable in some circles to hate Electronic Arts. But they gave me The Sims. And now this. So as far as I am concerned, all is forgiven.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting stuff, Troy!

I would've ignored this game, but will give it a chance, now.

3/27/2006 11:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Between your review and the QT3 chatter you have me *this* close to buying this game, and I don't even like RTS games. Damn you!

-Rob O'Boston

3/28/2006 11:44:00 AM  
Anonymous rea said...

bought it, in no small part thanks to your earlier reviews. I'm tired of peon based economies.

I'm not a RTS noob (played the original Dune RTS), but will never be very good due to lack of playtime availability. I like the turn towards simplicity this game represents where you can spend more time on big strategy than micro management of resources.

I just got the game last Sunday and had fun playing some of the smaller scenarios. Tried a War of the Ring game and was a bit disappointing.

3/29/2006 11:11:00 AM  
Blogger Troy Goodfellow said...

Yeah, the War of the Ring mode is pretty weak. It tries to be a sort of Rise of Nations/Total War campaign thing and fails on most counts.

But I'm of the opinion that campaigns in RTS games are usually awful in any case.

3/29/2006 12:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I got the game yesterday, and really enjoy it so far. I can beat the AI on medium now, but it takes a good amount of clickery to do it. I like Isengard the best so far, the berserker and the min carriers are a blast (sorry for the pun). I like the Uruk-hai hero with the bow, the one from the end of the Fellowship of the Ring. They really nailed his mannerisms. I can be watching a swath of units battling across the screen and suddenly I'll pick out this evil bastard cooly walking along, firing arrows with his black bow. Very cool.

I like the simplicity of the game as well. No peons and not a lot of upgrades to worry about (and usually forget). The map view is so close that it takes me a while to figure out where I am on the map sometimes, but the advantage is that if I have the map centered on a unit I can usually act quickly enough to 'micro' their powers effectively. I've gone on the offensive a few times with just a gang of heroes and a bunch of powers (Legolas lives up to his reputation).

I haven't tried multiplayer yet, and I'm nervous that my old Dell won't be able to hack it. Also I don't often have a lot of time. Do the games last long? I've been able to kill the medium AI in about 15-20 minutes, although my latest game (me - elves, AI -isengard) has dragged on for nearly an hour.

-Rob

3/29/2006 09:50:00 PM  
Blogger Troy Goodfellow said...

Rob:

MP games can be short or long depending on a lot of things. As you've seen in single player, sometimes match-ups, choices and luck can lead to a long stalemate where you really have to go after your opponents resource buildings to keep the population cap down. Most times I've found a game can be finished in 30 minutes or less.

Of course, I'm not very good.

Look me up if you want a quick intro to the MP world.

3/29/2006 09:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love the game! Bought it the first day it came out, because I liked the first one. Although, this one is better. If you kill Gollum, and return the ring back to your castle, you'll be unstoppable. If you're evil you get to purchase Sauron in shape of the person in the first extended edition. Good, you get Gadriel. Both are awesome, but Sauron is better. You can send battalions of enemies flying in one strike. I give it a 5 out of 5.

4/01/2006 10:40:00 PM  

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