The Best Lord Of The Rings Video Games

I haven't been enjoying Shadow of War as much as others, partly for its diversions from Tolkien's tone/universe, a take which has got me thinking about Lord of the Rings video games I do like.

Younger readers may think of the series in recent years as being all about making friends with orcs, or for those with slightly longer memories about under-appreciated RTS games and cancelled epics.

But Tolkien's influence on video games stretches much further back. Fans have been playing games based on The Lord of the Rings (and The Hobbit) for almost as long as there have been video games, and for every misguided flop there has been a game that has been surprisingly OK for a licensed product. And in some cases much better than that.

Here are five of the best of them:

THE HOBBIT

Australian studio Beam Software made a number of LotR games, but their first remains the most important. The Hobbit, released in 1982, is an absolute adventure game classic that helped push the genre forwards in a number of ways, from its inclusion of illustrations to a complex text-entry system that let users string together long sentences (instead of just typing "open door").

It even had a primitive physics system.

THE RETURN OF THE KING

The second of EA's brawlers based on Peter Jackson's film trilogy was the better game. It married a competent action system with fantastic recreations of the movie's key scenes, and (for the time) had some incredible voice acting, including appearances by key actors like Ian McKellan and John Rhys Davies. It was also one of the best-looking games of 2003.

THE THIRD AGE

Yes, I mean it. This game has one of the dumbest boss battles of all time, but that tends to overshadow everything that came before it.

This is one of the best Final Fantasy clones around, even if it is a bit simpler, and its alternate telling of the saga is one that still feels at home within Jackson's take on the novels. And like most of EA's other Lord of the Rings game, the production values helped really sell the licence and make more of an impact on fans than the game might have were it to have been set in some random other universe (with more zippers).

BATTLE FOR MIDDLE EARTH II

The massive battle scenes of Lord of the Rings were always going to lead to strategy games, but the question was how those were ever going to stretched out over entire singleplayer campaigns.

EA found the answer in using hero units to let players act out smaller moments from the trilogy, while still allowing the scale to fight battles like Helm's Deep. Both BFME games are good, but the second might be slightly better thanks to a campaign that didn't have to skew as closely to the main storyline, and could thus engineer some better mission design.

SHADOW OF MORDOR

By far the better of WB's two Lord of the Rings games (to date), Shadow's focus is much tighter, its nemesis system more refined. I'm not the biggest fan of WB's take on the licence -- it feels more like its own IP dressed in a veneer of Lord of the Rings -- but the thrill of its stealth murder and orc friendship system makes up for this.

SPECIAL MENTION: THIRD AGE: TOTAL WAR

This is a mod, not a standalone game, so I couldn't officially include it on the list. But here's a shout out for it anyway, because nothing has ever captured the scale and fury of the series' biggest battles like this Total War conversion, which transforms Medieval: Total War 2 into the ultimate Middle Earth combat experience.

WATCH MORE: PC Gaming News


Comments

    why do people always forget about Lord of the Rings Online.
    that game was amazing, interesting, fun, in depth AND 99.9%of the community were really friendly and helpful and not full of obnoxious little teens.

      Cause it sucked.

        bravo on your compelling counter argument. glad to see the gene pool still spits out rejects to let the rest of us know we're normal.

          Woah sorry there champ, didn't mean to hurt your feelings.

      I actually really really enjoyed LOTR online, until I got up to Rivendell. The story was enjoyable, but I felt it really got a bit lost from there on.

      Me and my friends had lots of fun running around the shire roleplaying hobbits who would never dare leave the shire.

    I actually really enjoyed The War in the North. It was short, but quite fun in co-op.

      Add another for War in the North. It reminded me of the two movie tie-ins that were a lot of fun.

    Lord of the Rings: War in the North was quite underrated in my opinion. I really enjoyed it, and the co-op was pretty sweet.

    LOL - ninja'd by @cctrbo

    Last edited 15/11/17 10:45 am

    I quite enjoyed the hobbit game from 2003, and i really enjoyed war in the north.

    The Two Towers console beat em up was better than ROTK in my opinion, sooo good.

    I'm not getting into Shadow of War half as much as I did Shadow of Mordor. The new game just seems to jump all over the place from region to region without it meaning anything to the player. Half the time you don't know where you're supposed to go next or why. I'ts a shame as the first iteration was fantastic. I'm also finding less personal relationships with Orcs in SOW. In SOM there were certain Orcs that I loved coming across. In SOW I just don't care as much.

    For mine though....The Two Towers was a fantastic game.

    Return of the King all day, every day baby! My younger brother and I played it to death on the Gamecube.

    Anyone remember Lord of the Rings Conquest? It was fun! Basically a LOTR battlefront.

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