It’s been a few years since The Lord of the Rings swept into movie theaters and through the Academy Awards, wooing fantasy fans everywhere and inspiring a new interest in the classic Tolkien trilogy. Now Glu has released a game to keep that fervor alive with a tower defense spin on the most epic of quests.
The Lord of the Rings: Middle-earth Defense gives us a somewhat realistic approach to tower defense by having the heroes and ally units act as towers, each with a base of attack. Each character has a melee, ranged, or magic attack, and the melee attackers move within their range to attack their foes.
I’m not a conjurer of cheap iPhone games!
All of the heroes are straight out of the movies, with attacks matching their style accordingly– Legolas even has the dagger he uses in the movies when orcs get too close. But as we mentioned in our preview, the enemies do not attack any of the heroes, instead opting for the exit. This somehow depletes your health, despite none of your heroes having been attacked.
There are two modes: Story and Challenge. Story mode spans across 7 chapters, with a total of 18 levels, and it brings you through the whole plot of the trilogy. Each stage begins with a certain amount of gold and wood and a large environment. Gold is used to purchase and upgrade heroes, while wood is used to build barriers.
These barriers come in many forms, from a pile of wood used to block a path to a Mirror of Galadriel which slows enemies, who are probably wondering what they will see inside. In Challenge mode, you’re placed on a level with a choice of characters and heroes unlocked in the story mode, and then face wave after wave of foes.
Ent nothing to it.
The expansive environments require careful placement of barriers to direct the flow of enemies, and then strategic placement of heroes on bottlenecks and corners to take advantage of their skills. All of this, of course, while managing a tight budget for heroes and upgrades.
Some heroes have special skills which can be used in the heat of battle after they are purchased. This creates a good balance of premeditated strategy and spur-of-the-moment action. Sadly, if you take a phone call or exit the app, it will not auto-save your progress, and when the length of levels are taken into account, this is a serious technical oversight.
The graphics in Middle-earth Defense are good: Each major hero is easily identifiable, and the environments have distinctive landmarks for loyal fans to enjoy. They are not great, however, as seen in the waves of grainy enemies and identical-looking hobbits.
Overall, LOTR: Middle-earth Defense is a good game, and it’s a good match if you enjoy both the tower defense genre and the LOTR film trilogy. With a few shortcomings and a relatively high price, however, it’s not perfect for everyone.