Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-Earth

Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-Earth
Platforms: PC
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Electronic Arts
Genres: Strategy / Real-Time Strategy
Release Date: December 6, 2004
Game Modes: Singleplayer / Multiplayer

The Lord of the Rings’ real-time strategy game falls short of its mark.


Gandalf has an impressive set of spells.

Just as Peter Jackson’s spectacular Lord of the Rings movie trilogy evoked awe for its masterful visual presentation, the terrific-looking Battle for Middle-Earth likewise manages to impress through graphics rather than substance. But the films were exhilarating all the same, while the game falls short. It effortlessly trumps War of the Ring like a Nazgul but can’t hold a candle to meatier fare like Dawn of War. It “simplifies” the usual real-time strategy gameplay—removing or dressing down tactical options, unit types, depth, or any semblance of linear narrative— and becomes a repetitive grind.

Four playable factions are available: Gondor and Rohan for the Good side, with Saruman’s Isengard and Sauron’s Mordor answering the cattle-call for Evil. As in the Kohan series, infantry and archers are created in squads of five or ten, although bigger fun-bets like heroes, mountain trolls, and Nazgul arrive in sets of one. The designers commendably do away with peon convoys by having a single lump resource type —called, aptly, “resources” — and by providing a limited number of real estate “lots” on which to place your structures. As your economy gets rolling by establishing expansion farms or slaughterhouses at the limited number of designated spots, you prune away the ones at home to make space for your now affordable Troll cages or Mumakil pens.

The rub is that buildings can only produce higher tier units once they’ve acquired sufficient veterancy, which accumulates only through making sufficient numbers of cheap units that count against your population cap. So you basically create them to die by the legion in order to gain access to their hardier successors. This mercenary tech model may be psychologically well suited to Mordor or Isengard, but deliberately sending Gondor infantry off to die leaves you feeling a bit like Denethor on a grumpy day.

Like Dawn of War, you expand by controlling certain points on the map that allow you to build outposts and settlements; eventually, when you take over an enemy, you can pay to construct a new citadel on the ashes of his old one. Only citadels, though, can make defensive towers, which, especially on larger maps with widely spaced choke points, leaves your lumber mill/farm outposts a little exposed. As a result, many games tend to degenerate into sluggish exchanges of ebb and flow as each side strives to capitalize on enough of an economic edge to secure victory. (Tolkien and economy just don’t mix.)

16_1Although both infantry and hero units gain experience and increased abilities, strategic niceties such as flanking maneuvers and battle formations are absent, the variety of unit upgrades spartan and, Nazgul screeches notwithstanding, battle morale doesn’t seem to be a gameplay factor. Yet the game arbitrarily takes away control left and right: you can’t remove archers from a sentry tower once you’ve garrisoned them, nor separate archers and infantry once you’ve combined groups of each to create a more effective battalion.

Overcompensating handsomely for this comes a strikingly colorful palette of hero units and god powers that keep you playing. With each kill, your units gain not only experience but contribute points toward a set of powers granted by the One Ring or the Evenstar. These effects range from economic and armor bonuses to summoning a Balrog or the Army of the Dead. You can also use resources to purchase hero units like Gandalf, Saruman, Aragorn, or the hobbits, who become quite powerful if carefully shepherded and may be revived for a goodly sum when slain. Ian McKellen, Sean Astin, and the rest of the movie cast lend their voice talents to lines that sound more or less transcribed from the movies.

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Single-player campaigns of above-average length are available for both factions, and rewriting the history of Middle-Earth from Mordor’s perspective proves strangely satisfying. As in Rise of Nations, you choose each battleground from a lush, colorful “living” map, with control of regions providing various bonuses such as extra resources or higher population caps in future battles should you prevail. Although the diverse missions predictably feature every encounter from the movie trilogy, in addition to a flurry of made-up ones like an orc assault on Lothlorien, they seem rather randomly linked. The Good campaign opens with the Fellowship battling its way through Moria, without any even cursory pre-game context, and leads to a bizarre anti-climax that has you as an uncharacteristically frantic Gandalf running around in circles avoiding the hooves and whipfire of a stomping Balrog.

3_1Although your persistent armies are shrewdly retained from mission to mission, losing a hero such as Aragorn or Boromir is rendered meaningless by their inexplicable re-appearances at later junctures when the plot calls for it. It just rings false, and kind of dopey. There’s also an abundance of the tired missions where you excruciatingly micromanage a small squad of bad-ass heroes through a grueling, twisty labyrinth. These headachy maze forays are difficult to design, and a drag that teach little in the way of game mechanics.

Battle for Middle-Earth may not be the reinvention of the wheel but it’s certainly a good Lord of the Rings game. Real-time strategy’s a tougher racket to break, after all, and making one based on the Tolkien mythos must be a daunting prospect. How, indeed, does one balance, configure, and encode into robust gameplay for the ages a deliberately arcane literary conflict that was defined from first page to last as that of a weak few struggling desperately against a powerful many? Whatever the formula, this game valiantly tries and sometimes manages to get it right.

System Requirements: Pentium IV 2.5 GHz, 512 MB RAM, 64 MB Video, WinXP

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Tags: LOTR The Lord of the Rings The Battle for Middle-Earth Full ISO PC Game Review


  1. Tesla says:

    Playing Mordor brings much more fun than Gondor in my opinion, especially when you have to use the siege units. This game is huge as there are around 36 missions overall. And even more if you want to conquer all territories.
    By the way, the links doesn’t target the right game.

  2. My mistake. Fixed now.

  3. WhiteWolf007 says:

    Thank you so much for this wonderful game, i love this website to death. If i may ask, will you add Battle for Middle-Earth 2 as well?

  4. InTrouble says:

    I dont understand the instruction how to get the HOODLE file into ISO?

  5. Copy the crack into game folder on hard drive, replace original exe file with the same name. Not hard.

  6. Trouble says:

    Hi! I got lost after mounting it. setup doesn’t load for me properly i think.. it just promps then nothing happens.

  7. Admiral Atvar says:

    Hi, thanks for uploading this game! Whenever i try to load the game it just says “Please insert the correct cd-rom select ok and restart application” Thanks in advance!

  8. Eduardo Fernandes says:

    Absolutly adore this game 😀 such an epic one

  9. carmel says:

    hi, when i run the game a message shows up saying “EXCEPTION_ACCESS_VIOLATION”. it gives me two options “OK” or “debug break”. if i click on ok nothing happens and if i click on “debug break” another error message shows up where it says “runtime error: This aplication has requested the runtime to terminate in an unsual way”. i have no idea how to solve this

  10. stikflip says:

    I’m sorry, I’m not savvy on downloading games. Now that it is downloaded how do I open the game? Thank you much for making it available!

  11. Jorge Gamboa says:

    Hello i thought i did everything correct but when i tried to play the game it says to please insert the correct CD-ROM, select OK and restart application. Can you tell me what i did wrong

  12. Jorge Gamboa says:

    OK i fixed my old problem but now its telling me the same thing as Carmel about only giving me two options “ok” or “debug break”. I dont know what to do at this point :/

  13. Jorge Gamboa says:

    @carmal go to this video and i’tll help you out bro.


    Thank you again for the game!

  14. teemu says:

    what do i do about a cd key?

  15. Alexis Beltran says:

    Hi every time I enter the code it says it’s invalid why d9es it do that. A little Help Plz

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