Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien is probably among the most famous books of all time and they spawned loads of merchandise so inevitably there would be games as well. War in Middle Earth is a strategy wargame and as far as I know it is the only game there is in this category with the lord of the rings license. In case you don’t know the story behind the ring it’s a bit complicated to tell it all here so you’ll have to look elsewhere. You are the supreme commander of all the allied armies in Middle Earth and it’s up to you to get the one ring from the Shire all the way to Mount Doom by deploying you troops and fighting it out with the armies of Sauron and Saruman.

Most games involving in the lord of the rings franchise center around one or a few of the main characters in the books like Frodo Baggins, Aragorn or any one of the fellowship of the ring. This game is on a whole different level as you can command all those characters including any troops under their command as well. You can send them to battle enemies or to certain cities which sometimes may yield another ally to help you in your cause. It does mean that you are fairly restricted in your actions as you cannot directly control any unit in battle as would be the case if you were a real general. This can be frustrating as a battle unfolds because you can only watch and see what will be the final outcome. When there is no battle you do have some options like dropping or picking up an item of interest but it is very limited.

The game is played mostly from two different screens one of which is the map of Middle Earth and you can see and give orders to friendly units. The second is the unit mode which is a closeup of a group whom you can give orders to when they are alone or watch them do battle when enemies are nearby. You will come across many of the books characters like the whole Fellowship, Faramir, Celeborn but some characters who only get little or no time in the book but are still part of the lord of the rings universe are also there. The same goes for places of interest or cities so the game is quite true to what Tolkien wrote. Graphically the unit mode is alright but there isn’t really anything earthshattering and most of the time you will spend in map mode anyway where you’ll be staring at a map of Middle Earth trying to make the right decisions.

I have to admit I read the books only after seeing the movie so I was never really interesting in the lord of the rings when I was younger even though I knew of it’s existence. There have been plenty of games made about the subject but this is the only one I know of that is a true wargame, the realtime strategy games are on a much smaller scale than this. The fact that you can control all the allied armies in an attempt to stop the forces of evil should be interesting to fans but also people who like wargames in general. The pace of the game is quite slow but that is the way wargames usually play so if you don’t mind that you should definately check it out.

Overal rating: 7.5/10

Erde Kaiser

This game was released for many different systems here are some notes:

Amiga Released in 1988.
Graphically this is the best version but there are some loading times.
C64 Released in 1989.
The C64 doesn’t lend itself very well for this type of game but I guess it gets the job done.
DOS Released in 1988.
Graphically inferior to other 16-bit versions but because you can play it with DOSBOX it still has my preference.
ZX Spectrum Released in 1989.
The higher resolution make the game look better than the C64 even though it’s monochrome.
Others These versions are not available.
Amstrad CPC released in 1989.
Atari ST released in 1989.
Date added Feb-06-2009 09:23
Name War in Middle Earth
Developer Synergistic software
Publisher Melbourne house
First released 1988
Genre Strategy