Picture the scene – it’s 2004, Lord of the Rings has reached the peak of its popularity, and I was getting to the stage where gaming was becoming a key part of down-time. With all of my games really being on PlayStation 2 it never occurred to me to consider anything outside of that platform. Then Battle For Middle Earth came out and everything changed.
I love Lord of the Rings. I love the films, I loved the games, and I love the bits of the books that I’ve actually read, but BFME was something different. It took the awesome feeling of killing orcs and goblins and put you not as a warrior, like say in The Two Towers, but as the general, in charge of armies of men and elves. It was awesome.
The whole concept of real-time strategy was a new one to me and I was hooked. The strategy involved in choosing what buildings to build, claiming and protecting your outlying farms and training up an army to throw at your foes. For me, at my young age, it was a gaming revolution.
It felt as if you were there, as the game did a brilliant job of replicating the feel of the franchise. The score was from the actual films, the cut-scenes were also bits from the films, and the shouts of ‘Rohirrim!’ and ‘Warg Riders!’ made you believe that this could be a part of the story. Watching Gondor knights charge into Uruk-hai battle lines and seeing Mordor catapults burn down Rohan’s villages invoked every exciting moment from Helms Deep and Pelennor Fields. And if you wanted to be there yourself, the campaign took you through all three books/films, allowing you to re-live sieges and battles and feel like you decide the fate of Middle Earth.
Another great aspect of the game was being able to play as the forces of evil. Now, I like Gandalf as much as the next guy, but compared to the Nazgul and their dragon-like fell beasts, there’s no contest who I’d back.
Whilst BFME had some flaws, like not being as good as its sequel, it’s a game I regret getting rid of. For me it’s a true classic, not just because of its personal importance to me, but also because at the end of the day, seeing orcs and men duke it out for control of Middle Earth is one of the coolest things of all time.
Thomas Daviesbookmark me