Even if it's a very simplistic RTS, LOTR fans should definetely get a fair share of enjoyment out of this game.

User Rating: 6.5 | The Lord of the Rings: War of the Ring PC
The Lord of the Rings: War of the Ring was the first RTS game based on the LOTR universe. Since then, two more LOTR RTS games have been released (BFME I and II), and needless to say, both those games are much deeper strategy games, and would offer a better choice for the hardcore strategy gamer. However, for casual strategy fans and most importantly LOTR enthusiasts, this game can provide a good amount of excitement as well as a different take on the LOTR saga.

Like I previously mentioned, the game is a very simple RTS at it's core. I would actually say it feels more like an action game played in RTS mode. That's not necessarily a bad thing, and it's not impossible for a hardcore strategy gamer to enjoy the game. You would simply have to toss aside any pre-conceptions you have about other RTS games, such as unit formation, unit aggressiveness, a deep tech tree, as well as resource management and massive armies. You can play as both the "free people" (the good campaign) or as "sauron's army" (the evil campaign). Both sides are very well balanced and there's an equivalent for almost every unit on each side. There are also lots of hero units for both factions, and these heroes can be very fun to play with, since they can cast some pretty cool powers or spells in the middle of the battle. To make use of these powers, you'll need to use fate points, which are earned as you defeat enemies and destroy their camps. There's also the option to cast other fate powers that don't require the use of a hero (although this will cost fate points every time you use them), as well as to summon some "uber" units such as the Giant Ent for the good side and the Balrog for the evil side (the Balrog is a truly stunning creature, and the first time it shows up is really awe-inspiring).

The heroes in the good campaign are the members of the fellowship, while the heroes in the evil campaign are mostly characters that don't show up in the movies (except for Gollum and Saruman). All hero units are vital in the battleground, although in some missions their death isn't a great loss, since they can be respawned at your camp.

Playing both campaigns is a lot of fun, and there are certain battles that are inspired from the movies (like Helm's Deep), but most of them are actually taken from Tolkien's books. The battles don't require much planning, as the basic strategy to use through the whole game is to max out your army and overwhelm your opponent. The battles can be very satisfying, but it's a shame the game has such a low population cap, set at 100 (and most of your units take more than one population slot, so your armies really consist of about 25-40 units), since this takes away some of the epicness from the battles. The evil campaign is overall more enjoyable and is suited for more experienced players, although it's not dramatically more difficult than the good campaign (which is clearly aimed at casual players). Both campaigns consist of 10 scenarios and each scenario gradually increases in difficulty. I highly recommend playing both campaigns, even if the notion of playing against the fellowship could turn you off at first (for the record, and this is a MINOR SPOILER, you never actually do battle with the fellowship in the evil campaign).

The graphics in the game are appropriate enough, although they aren't necessarily spectacular. The evil units are much more detailed and they don't seem as generic as the good units. The Balrog is by far the best looking unit in the game, and most of the movement from your units as well as the casting of spells and powers are very well animated. The locations are also very nicely detailed, although there's not much to interact with in them. Finally, the game runs very smoothly, even during the large battles (watching fate powers being cast from both sides simultaneously can be very fun to watch).

The sound is really great; the music changes according to the situation you're in. As you enter battles the music tempo rises, and this really elevates the intensity of the combat. The regular ambient music is also very good and appropiate for each side. The only aspect of the sound that can be a little lacking is the voice acting from some of the heroes (none of the actors from the movies participated in the voice acting of this game). But that's just a minor complaint, and overall the sound is a great aspect of the game.

War of the Ring is overall a good game. Even if it may not appeal to hardcore strategy gamers who demand a little more depth from their games, the target audience of the game (casual strategy gamers and LOTR enthusiasts) should have little problem enjoying it.