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Online Multiplayer Mode
Ok - here is where the game gets interesting! The multiplayer suite is one of the main strong points of LOTR: Battle for Middle-Earth II, where you can actually battle other players online for some of the best gameplay that you could hope for. With the online mode, you can choose to play in the one-on-one matches or in a group mode, whichever you prefer. Since the new strategy part to this LOTR game is all about conquering the other side, pretty much the player (or group) who can wipe out the majority of the other side's resources first will win the game.
Once you have wiped out these resources, it is pretty much an all out fight-for-your-life battle. The heros that you create will help you tremendously in the game, and can be a major turning point, especially since the computer that you were playing against won't know how to use them as well as other human players will. So, those who have units like Gandalf will find them invaluable as they can easily wipe out whole areas of the opposing armies with ease. The battles still aren't anywhere near as big as the ones in the movies, which is what most people think about when playing these LOTR PCc games, so this feature could have been vamped up a bit. But, you still get a good feeling for the clashes and battles when you are playing the game.
But, keep in mind that if you take on the War of the Ring mode in an online multiplayer mode, you need to be prepared for one heck of a long game play - like days, not just hours. But, you can save your progress and start up at another time, which helps a lot since most gamers don't have the time to sit for days on end and play a Lord of the Rings PC game with another player online. Electronic Arts did a great job here to make the game easy to find online and to find others who want to play against human players as well. Their server browser is well put together and easy to use, and the game will keep track of your scores and game play so you can look at another player's stats and see if you are a good match with them or not, so you don't end up playing someone who will probably wipe you out quickly.
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Visual Effects In LOTR: Battle for Middle-Earth II
There are some improvements in the graphics for this second part of the online pc game, but not too many. Those who played both versions can tell that there are more shadows and shading in areas of the game and shine to other areas. There are some improvements to the lights in the game as well, but not much on that end either. I am still not sure though if it is a good thing or a bad thing that the basic graphics for the game haven't changed much at all. I mean, since the graphics in the original were really great and they did a great job of catching the overall feel of Middle Earth, they really didn't need a lot - but I do feel that they could have expanded on them a bit more here and there without doing a complete overhaul of the game itself. But, with some of the additions of the monsters and other heros that you can summon to help your army, it makes a move to the plus side. I do have to admit that my favorite new thing in the game are the massive dragons and eagles that you can send out and actually watch them tear open the enemy players. So, that is kind of cool, especially since they took out some of the movie scenes that were in the first part of this game.
So, overall, I'm giving the LOTR: Battle for Middle-Earth II a 4 out of 5. I think that if EA had done just a bit more to make the game better then it would be a knockout and a solid 5 out of 5 from me.