As a devotee of 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy , a wondrous literary achievement that I deem a milestone in English literature, I had been rather enthused about the release of the first next-generation video game inspired to the series. Being this particular title based not just on a literary masterpiece but more closely on its successful cinematographic adaptation, we would normally have high expectations on its franchise-related products; alas, this video gaming endeavour may have just taught us that sometimes we have to learn how to lower our expectations.
In terms of game-play, EA have entirely failed to provide the game with an appealing campaign mode, and I entirely agree with the reviewer before me who found it far too short and repetitive. Upon completing the first campaign as the forces of Good, it is possible to unlock a second one in which players will side with the forces of Evil and plunge Middle Earth into a world of chaos. Whereas the latter might have been a remarkable addition in terms of alternative ending, it still was not properly crafted since the four classes - mage, archer, warrior and scout - are identical to the ones of the original campaign with the sole exception that you are now controlling merciless hordes of blood-thirsty Orcs or sword-swinging Nazguls instead of playing as a paladin of Gondor; what is worse, in either campaign, you cannot update any of the given abilities, thus the game is limited to the same chain of repetitious combinations of moves that only vary depending on the class of your choice. On the upside, however, I particularly enjoyed the chance of playing as almost all characters from the film, which, along with the original locations, has at least prevented the game from being utterly shoddy. Furthermore, during the Evil Forces campaign, you can reverse the roles and play as the brobdingnagian Balrog, or even partake in Saruman's unholy endeavour to defeat Aragorn and bring the human race to its demise.
If the campaign mode is mediocre and overall off-putting, the online feature may just give the game a gleam of hope in terms of lasting appeal. Structured in four different modes - Capture the Ring, Conquest, Team Death match and Hero Team Death match - the online feature is the only element that can prolong the otherwise null longevity of this game. In addition to that, the chance of achieving additional trophies online can be an incentive to play the game for some time before selling it, or eventually rent it for a week. On the downside, though, due to the fact that there is no way to update any character nor skills, and the environments are quite limited even online, the game will tend to become tedious after a while, especially after clearing all online trophies and thus completing every achievement available.
In conclusion, having analysed all the ups and downs, I will give this game a couple of stars because I did enjoy playing it online after all, but, both as a fan of Tolkien and as a gamer keen on action video games, I cannot bring myself to rating this product differently. Thus, my recommendation to all customers, both fans of the trilogy and action video games aficionados, is to rent this game and see if they can at least enjoy playing it online.