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Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle-earth - Rise of the Witch-King

Score: 80%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: EA Games
Developer: EA Los Angeles
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Real-Time Strategy/ Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

Not too hard of a formula. Take an excellent and well received game like Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle-earth, then create a new storyline that fits well into the original, and voila, you have Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle-earth - Rise of the Witch King. Yes it is truly one of those game titles that simply spills from your tongue with ease and grace. Given that Tolkien enjoyed linguistics so much, I am sure there is an odd irony in there somewhere about how long it takes to say.

I was not taken over by the graphics, as I really didn't find any visual differences. I noticed some of the improvised animations in the cut scenes. Where as I give them props for working within the engine, the clipping can be distracting. The cinematics are all from the original trilogy and where they deviated from there, they use stills and artistic renderings. This was beautiful, but I felt that this also disconnected the experience very drastically from the original trilogy. This could have been on purpose, but I wanted to see this as a better tie-in, and treated so.

It is the Lord of the Rings, so you get exactly what you should expect with sweeping, epic orchestral movements and monk choir-like chanting. I loved the sound track. The voice acting was on par, but was not exactly movie quality like the original game. Still, all and all well received.


Take a trip back in time with the expansion, Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle-earth - Rise of the Witch King, to about 2000 years before the Baggins's crossed paths with the cursed ring. It is a time when the land of man was split into three areas and evil brewed in the icy lands of Agmar. There are three main ways to play this expansion, just like the original game.

The Skirmish mode allows you to take on the PC in a one on one battle for Middle Earth.

The War of the Ring mode has seen a major overhaul. The original game's component was severely lacking and was really just kind of slapped together to be a functioning mode. The expansion forces you to utilize your resources wisely and actually gives you some intelligent A.I. to play against.

And, of course, there is the single player Story campaign. This is the saving grace for the entire expansion. The other components are OK, but the single player story is a step up for the game. It doesn't boast any new and great technical features for the game, it is just a cool and well done story.


There are some truly intense moments in Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle-earth - Rise of the Witch King. Like any other RTS, there are several challenges that are based on time and some based on collecting so much of something before the onslaught of enemies reaches your gates. These are usually easy enough, if you are patient and keep moving. There were many times I was on the edge of my seat hoping I was able to pull off the quest so I could continue on my mission. The missions for the game were all very cookie-cutter and lacked any real innovation. You hang in there for a good story. Keep your units productive. Mind your resources, prepare for battle and all will be well.

Game Mechanics:

As an RTS, Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle-earth - Rise of the Witch King is a very simple and common game. The A.I. will bring you to tears with their apparent stupidity at times, but I cannot stress it enough that there is a good story here that is well worth the play. You have to very specifically tell them to take on enemy units in their immediate vicinity. There were many times I would tell them to attack a unit or units, and when they were done with that specific group, they would not seek out the group standing right next to them. This got very frustrating and led to a lot of micromanagement in battle. The LAN play is very lopsided to whoever gets the new units from Agmar. This makes for an interesting handicap game. You can give a newer person the stronger army and see if you can still take them. My bet is that it would be pretty hard indeed.

I really enjoyed playing this game for the storyline. I did not see much replayability from the LAN game, but the revised turn-based game does have some merit. I recommend this game to any Lord of the Rings fan. It was a unique and well told continuance of the game.

-WUMPUSJAGGER, GameVortex Communications
AKA Bryon Lloyd

Minimum System Requirements:

CD-ROM: 16X CD-ROM, CPU: Intel Pentium 1.6 GHz, Hard Drive Space: 3000 MB, DVD-ROM: 8X DVD-ROM, Other: The game only officially supports cards with ATI (Radeon 8500 or greater) and NVIDIA chipsets, as well as Intel GMA 900 and GMA 950 products. Radeon 9200 PCI, Radeon 9250 PCI and the GeForce 4 MX are not supported. RAM: 512 MB RAM, Video Memory: 64 MB VRAM

Test System:

Windows XP Pro, 3.2 GHz P4HT CPU, 2 GB Ram, 512 PCIE 16 ATI X1600XT

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