The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth is a real-time strategy game for the PC developed by EALA. It was inspired and licensed from Peter Jackson's recent adaptations of the famous books by J.R.R. Tolkien and also features a number of the voice actors, including all the hobbits and wizards. It uses the Sage engine from Command & Conquer: Generals and was released on December 6, 2004. A sequel has been announced, The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II.
While there have been numerous other games based on The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien and the films, Battle for Middle-earth is unique in the fact that the developers intended to bring the feel of a "living" Middle-earth to the PC through impressive graphics and special effects, as well as to push the genre beyond the RTS niche market by introducing a more intuitive system. Though lauded for its graphics, it did not make a major impact with critics. The game was still well-received by many Lord of the Rings and RTS fans. It allows players to control units from 4 major "factions" of Middle-earth: Gondor, Rohan, Isengard, and Mordor, as well as members of the Fellowship. However, some people were disappointed by EA's promotional videos promoting the game as a Rome: Total War-style game, commanding thousands of troops at once, while the actual in game unit count and variety are actually quite low relative to other RTS titles. This game plays very similar to Command & Conquer: Generals even down to the power point system which allows players to earn special powers as you destroy more enemies. The powers that can be earned range from summoning elven allies, calling Eagles, all the way to bringing out the Army of the Dead or the Balrog
Video of an attack on a Mordor base
The game fuctions much like other RTS games, the player must manage an army taking control of economy and unit production, where BFME differs from other RTS titles is in that buildings can only be built on set points, and camp sites already exist and are scattered around the map. These range from an outpost (three building points) to a full flegged castle. In line with the trend in recent RTS games, units train in squads (Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War is a recent example of this).
This RTS features an Evil and Good campaign set in the War of the Ring-timeline as directed in the trilogy by Peter Jackson with a few game adaptions. As many other RTS-games this feature two opposite endings dependent on which side the player join. The Free Peoples (Gondor & Rohan) focus on their numerous heroes, like Gandalf, Aragorn, Theoden, Eomer, etc. On the other hand, the Forces of Darkness (Mordor & Isengard) depend mainly on their hordes of Orcs, Uruk-Hai, and Evil Men.
Economy is managed generally by building farms, blacksmiths (Good side), slaughterhouses, lumber mills and furnaces (both for Evil side) on the predefined slots to gain resources. There're also upgrades to increase the speed and reduce production cost.
Each of these maps are throughout the campaign accessed by selecting well-known and lesser-known regions of Middle-Earth such as the Westfold, Eastern Rohan, Mirkwood and even to the far-eastern locales of Rhûn and Harad. While the game authentically follows the story in proper order with special events like the Battle of Helm's Deep, Isengard, Moria and Minas Tirith the in-between gameplay rests, as said,upon the regions of Middle-Earth encompassing in the West from the Shire to Mirkwood, eastmost to Rhûn and all the way south to Mordor and the far reaches of Near Harad.
There are few canonical missions in the game, and until a major event happens, your armies wander around conquering other territories.
- Rohan Peasant
- Rohirrim Archers
- Yeoman Archers
- Elven Warriors (requires experienced archery range)
- Gondor Soldiers
- Gondor Archers
- Gondor Knights
- Tower Guards (requires experienced barracks)
- Rangers (requires experienced archery range)
- Orc Laborer
- Uruk Pikeman (requires experienced uruk pit)
- Uruk Crossbowman
- Berserker (requires experienced uruk pit)
- Warg Riders
- Battering Ram
- Explosive Mine (requires experienced siege structure)
- Siege Ladder
- Orc Laborer
- Orc Warrior
- Orc Archer
- Haradrim Lancer
- Soldiers of Rhun (requires veteran Haradrim palace)
- Mountain Troll (improves to Attack Troll by experience)
- Drummer Troll (requires veteran Troll cage)
- Battering Ram
- Siege Tower
- The Balrog
- Other Spiders
- The Eye of Sauron
- Goblin Swordsman
- Goblin Archer
- Cave Troll
- The Eagles
- The Army of the Dead
- Tribute Carts (As Mordor in Near Harad)
- Mordor Orc Warrior With Schimitar. This Is The Orc Captain From The Two Towers, In The Merry And Pippin Scene. He Only Appears Once.
- Haradrim Single Unit. More Accurately Called Haradrim Captains, These Appear In North Ithilien. Identifiable By Yellow Spear Tips.
- Harad Citadel
- Elven Barracks
- Forbidden Pool
Some have lambasted it for recycling old concepts such as special powers, making the player field small armies (limited by Command Points) and being too simple compared to other RTSes, among other things.
- Official Website
- Middle Earth Vault, The Master Fansite
- Middle-earth Center, a fansite
- GameReplays.org, a fansite for replays, strategies, and competitive gaming for Battle for Middle-earth
- Collection of reviews of The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth
- The Third Age.net - Hosts mods for Battle for Middle-Earth series Mods and home of T3A Online which restores Online play.
- The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth at MobyGames