previews\ May 9, 2006 at 8:00 pm

The Lord of the Rings, The Battle for Middle-earth II - 360 - Preview

E3 2006 First Look Preview

Consider the firsts – for the first time ever a home console system is capable of a full-on real-time strategy game with high-quality graphics, and this is the first Lord of the Rings franchise title for the 360 platform.

Yes, Battle for Middle-earth 2 is a port, of sorts, from the PC title that was released a while ago, but while it has the full content from the PC version, there were a lot of elements that were affected in order to realize this version. For example, the PC version uses the keyboard well, and – as of right now – there is no keyboard for the 360. A problem? Not for the folks at Electronic Arts.

EA showed off the game during a pre-E3 event held in the Redwood Shores Studios recently, and this is a game that is spot on when it comes to faithfully reproducing the feel and look of the PC counterpart.

First, the dev team took most of the highest resolution graphics from the PC title and imported them over to the 360. Through Xbox Live, there is voice-over capability. The game itself features locations from the books that were not in the films. Because the 360 has an achievement system, players can set up achievements for different types of games. There are four modes in multiplayer – king of the hill, capture the flag, resource race and hero versus hero. Multiplayer will support up to four gamers. Unlock achievements and you can unlock heroes.  

The game’s controls were all revamped – obviously – to suit the 360 controller with a targeting reticule in the middle of the screen. Using that reticule it appeared easy to select units and issue them orders. The buttons are all actions and the right trigger opens up the command menu. Players will be able to ‘bookmark’ separate control groups in the UI as well as buildings and locations.

The look of the game is very good and adheres well to the PC version. Those who missed out on the PC, but have a 360 and are looking for a solid RTS experience should have this on their must-have lists. LotR: Battle for Middle-earth 2 will ship to retailers this summer.


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