Review by mangar

"Follows the book exactly with every detail"

We all know games from books suck. Infact, I believe only Red Storm Rising would be considered a classic. However, War In Middle Earth is a classic too, just one that didn't get the recognition in deserved. I blame this on Melbourne House being Australian, so of course their games would have difficulty reaching US shores, especially in the late eighties. Anyway, the game follows the book. You start as the hobbits on a journey to throw the ring into the cracks of Mount Doom. Along the way, you'll encount all the heroes and inhabitants of Middle Earth.

Graphics : 8
I played the game on a Apple //GS version, which had nice colorful graphics. The Amiga and IBM VGA versions had the best graphics though. All the different races of Middle Earth looked different enough from humans to elves to hobbits. You won't mistake an elf for a human or a hobbit for a dwarve. However, all humans look the same, and so do all the other people. There's even the infamous Balrog, which is huge. As for Middle Earth, it's impressive. You can zoom in on any spot in Middle Earth from a map and get a picture of that spot. So you can see every location from Grey Havens to Mount Doom and beyond. If you zoom in on a citadel, you might see orcs or goblins.

Sound : 6
Very little music in the game. You could hear a note when you picked something up and there are occasional sounds to trigger events, but that's about it.

Gameplay : 8
I wished they gave you better control of your characters. All you can do is charge, attack, or retreat. But I suppose they didn't want to create two gaming systems. You can engage in small battles with a handful of orcs or in a huge battle with thousands of troops. In the large battle, all you see are the number of wounded and dead. In the small battles, you can watch the characters fight. Gandalf will cast spells and Aragorn will use his sword.

Story : 9
This is a retelling of The Lord Of The Rings. There's no deviation from the story. You win if the ring falls into Mount Doom or you kill Sauron. You lose if you die or three of your strongholds are captured by the enemy. Along the way, you'll meet all the inhabitants you read from the book if you follow the right path. For instance, if you go through the mountains, you might encounter a Balrog, while if you go through the woods, you might meet those tree people.

Replayability : 8
Surprisingly high. But this isn't completely an RPG. It's half RPG, half wargame. And you all know the ending even before you play. There are plenty of paths you can take to reach Mount Doom. And there's two ways to defeat Sauron. Either take the ring to Doom or kill Sauron. The second is much harder. You can also move all the forces of Middle Earth from Lothlorien to Minas Tirinth.

Value : 8
I still play this game on rare occasions today. It can be short or long depending on the road you take to reach Mount Doom. You can follow the events of the story or create your own if you avoid certain areas. There are only two places in the game you will have to travel to- Rivendell and Mount Doom. You have complete freedom.

Overall : 8
If you're a fan of Tolkien, then you might want to try this game. Keep in mind that the graphics are dated by today's standards, but the adventure is fun. You'll get to see all the characters from the books and follow their paths.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 02/26/01, Updated 02/26/01

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