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Taking back Middle-Earth
Tolkien's classic stories set in Middle Earth have long been mined for video games, with superb offerings such as The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings available to hardened fantasy fans. This more modern interpretation certainly offers more bells and whistles in terms of visuals than its predecessors but it also lacks some of the inventiveness and sheer spirit, although it's still a reasonable affair. This one takes place in the same timeline as the recent films and finds you supporting efforts to destroy Sauron by battling his minions in the north. Although the storyline overlaps with the films, you won't be controlling any characters from them and instead you'll have a choice of Eradan, Andriel and Farin, characters created for this game. The gameplay is a very linear action/adventure, presenting you with clear quests and objectives and with a strong focus on combat, with a mix of melee and ranged fights. There are also RPG elements in areas where you can trade, pick up quests and so on, but this is really about the fighting. And in this respect, it's fairly successful. The combat is quite varied and exciting, with plenty of vicious beasts to take on and which require different approaches. The more you play though, the more you realize there's not that much variation, so boredom will set in. However, the game is very attractive to look at, with some nice design work, as well as good audio, and boasts solid controls. It's definitely one for Tolkien fans but other fantasy followers might want to look elsewhere due to the lack of a true spark.