Overall - 30%
My time with Guardians of Middle Earth was a memorable one, but not for the right reasons. Without the Lord of the Rings cover this game would have disappeared into the depths of the bargain bin within weeks. Couple that with a ridiculously over priced DLC option to purchase additional characters and you've got a game that struggles to match its competition with a bigger price tag.
Guardians of Middle Earth is the latest gaming title to take advantage of the expansive lore and mythology surrounding the hugely popular Lord of the Rings franchise. Award-winning movies, games met with critical acclaim and more merchandise than the New York Yankees, there’s very few franchises better suited to gaming.
Combining one of the biggest fantasy franchises in history with the fastest growing competitive gaming genre on the planet leaves very little room for error. But does Guardians of Middle Earth compete with the big MOBA names or should this latest piece of J.R.R Tolkien’s work be cast into the depths of Mount Doom?
The MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) genre is one of the fastest growing aspects of the gaming industry today. The big dog, League of Legends, is currently considered to be the most played PC game on the planet and several others also help to dominate the MOBA scene. League of Legends has been widely attributed as the main reason the US now acknowledges competitive gaming as an actual sport, offering special visa’s to competitors and shoutcasters (commentators). So with that being said, Guardians of Middle Earth has a very high bar to reach.
Guardians Of Middle Earth Review
In true MOBA fashion players are given the option of selecting many iconic characters from the Lord of the Rings fiction. You can enter the battle as Gandalf, Frodo, Legolas and some of the lesser known characters such as Gothmog, Runsig and Bert. Each character is divided into typical MOBA/RPG archetypes such as Tactician, Enchanter, Defender, Striker and Warrior. These categories basically summarize the responsibilities of the Champion’s within that group.
Guardians of Middle Earth does bring some fresh ideas to the MOBA genre, which is no easy task considering the expectations of current MOBA players. Unlike other MOBA games there’s no store in-game and you don’t purchase additional items as you progress. This mechanic is clearly aimed more towards first time or casual MOBA players, which makes sense considering it first launched on consoles. Instead of the typical setup you instead create a “Belt” which offers similar buffs and bonuses to other MOBA games. These items then unlock as you progress in-game. However, this doesn’t allow for counter-builds, which is a rather huge aspect in the MOBA community. The same kind of mechanic is used for potions and commands, additional abilities that you can use in-game at the expensive of a large cooldown.
Despite its attempts at innovation Guardians of Middle Earth falls short in the most basic of ways. The developers opted to use peer 2 peer rather than paying actual money to give players reliable servers. What does this mean for the average player? You’ll spend over half your matches in a laggy game with occasional freezes and disconnects. The game could be amazing but if the platform you’re using for delivery isn’t up to par, people aren’t going to experience anything other than frustration. I’m a little guilty of being a bit lazy here as Gamers Heroes regulars are probably used to my far more in-depth reviews. But the lag issues alone made for such a frustrating experience, I struggled to enjoy the game whatsoever.
Adding to the poor design choices is the introduction of AI during matches. Although the benefits are obvious for players quitting a game, beginning a game with AI enemies and allies is pointless. I never once had a single match with both teams consisting of all human players, and most games the balance wasn’t even close to fair. One team would consist of 2-3 bots while the other would have 3-4 humans. The pride of emerging victorious after an intense MOBA experience is destroyed by the fact you only managed to defeat a team consisting of mainly AI, and really poor AI at that. I lost count of the times a single enemy Champion aimlessly ran at a team of 4 before being wiped out.
My time with Guardians of Middle Earth was a memorable one, but not for the right reasons. Without the Lord of the Rings cover this game would have disappeared into the depths of the bargain bin within weeks. Couple that with a ridiculously over priced DLC option to purchase additional characters and you’ve got a game that struggles to match its competition with a bigger price tag.