Published on December 27th, 2012 | by Kyle Spencer, Editor
Lord of the Rings: Guardians of Middle-earth Review
Developer: Monolith Productions
Platform: PlayStation 3 via PSN, Xbox 360 via Xbox LIVE Arcade [Reviewed]
Release Date: Dec. 4, 2012
MSRP: $14.99 or 1200 MS Points
Who would have thought that a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) would have made its way onto consoles? With the growing popularity of the genre, this DOTA-inspired game takes the Lord of the Rings license and utilizes the foundation that League of Legends (LoL) has made popular and familiarizes it with consoles with Lord of the Rings: Guardians of Middle Earth. But many hardcore fans of the genre may wonder if the transition is going to become more of a softcore entry level game, or if it can withstand the hardcore gameplay that games like League of Legends boasts.
The latter of the statement can be put to rest, because even though the mouse and keyboard controls have been eliminated, the controller substitution actually work very well. Even without the preferred peripherals the game still features an area of attack approach. In each game you control a “Guardian” with its own special attack abilities and level up perks as you play. Each Guardian has a different attack range, leaving little to no single attack options.
This is where controller players are going to feel right at home and make you forget about a mouse and keyboard.
Unlike League of Legends which can demand hours upon hours of gameplay, Guardians of Middle-earth allows players to set a timer on the multiplayer match. That’s not to say that a Guardians match can’t take you a few hours to finish, because I have been involved in some hours-long matches, but those who inexperienced can put a 20 Minute timer up. The winner is selected based on points that are built up throughout the match.
Another feature that helps novice players ease into the genre is the removal of buying items. In games like LoL you can go back to the base and but items to load out your Champion, however in LOTR you’re given a Guardian Belt allows gamers to choose a loadout at the beginning of each match. As your Guardian levels up you can level up the Gems and Relics and upgrade its stats.
When it comes to the Guardians themselves there were never really issues of one being over-powered. The only one I had question about was Gollum, who seemed to be a little over done, but with a leveled up Gandalf, old Smeagol is a piece of cake. It is all just a matter of how you use each guardian. Boosting particular stats will become more and more important the further you go. You can also unlock new Guardians as you earn reward points at the end of each match you play.
There isn’t much to gripe about with this game, however the frame rate and lag become issues when you reduce the amount of roads for you troops and guardians to move down. There are also some small clutter issues, especially when there are countless troops on the screen at one time. This makes it very tough to read messages that are popping up from time to time, and reading the mini-map becomes problematic. But this is all tied to the ugly UI.
The online play is actually pretty solid, however the matchmaking is horrendous. When you finally get into a match it is quite entertaining, and leads to a few hours of fun, however it take anywhere from five to ten minute to even find a match. Then lag and disconnect issues pop up, but with recent patches the disconnect issues have been some what resolved. Lag can be an issue, especially when there are a lot of characters on-screen at one time.
Guardians of Middle-earth is a solid entry for the MOBA genre on console. If you are one that was reluctant about trying League of Legends, or never showed interest in it (I fall into that category), GOME may change you opinion. It makes the genre viable on console and leave me to wonder what they could do further with the genre in the future. Even though there are some minor technical issues, Guardians is a solid entry for the genre and a good look at the possibilities for what can come down the line.
[xrr label=”Rating: 8/10″ rating=8/10]
+ Solid entry for the genre
+ LOTR Feel
+ Original voice actors
+ Console controls