Better than the first
The gameplay is classic, like the first, but with subtle differences. Builders are now required, taking it a step toward Age of Empires style of play. One does not have to build your structures on given plots of land, but anywhere, as long as it's feasible.
Sound is more or less equal to the first game, excellent, and Graphics have not changed much(think of the lightshow when your unit levels up.)
This game is worth every cent you pay for it, but I suggest for LOTR fans to get the Collector's edition.
This game is just as good as it's predecessor.