The Lord of the Rings: Guardians of Middle-earth Review
Xbox 360 | PS3
The Lord of the Rings: Guardians of Middle-earth Box Art
System: Xbox 360, PS3*
Dev: Monolith Productions
Pub: Warner Bros. Interactive
Release: December 4, 2012
Players: 1-10
Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p Fantasy Violence

And these backgrounds are pretty well designed, drawing from the Lord of the Rings lore. One map, for example takes place in the Shire, even though the Shire seems like a weird place for these types of battles to take place. (Unless you’ve read the books and are familiar with the Scouring of the Shire, though the game is obviously based off the Peter Jackson films rather than the Tolkien novels.)

The Lord of the Rings: Guardians of Middle-earth Screenshot

And since we’re speaking of lore here, this is not a game that cares about the lore whatsoever. It even allows you to side up characters on improbable teams; Gandalf, for example, can be on the same team as Sauron and Gollum, which makes absolutely no sense. In fact, it seems as if the only reason for making this a Lord of the Rings game was to draw in players who would otherwise be uninterested in the genre. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that this game isn’t really for Lord of the Rings enthusiasts at all.

That brings me to the biggest mystery of the game: Who is this made for? You could argue that it’s for the hardcore MOBA players, but those people have their PC MOBAs like Dota and LoL; they really don’t need to see the experience emulated on a console. So how about console players who are completely new to MOBAs? Well, sure, but how do you convince console gamers to try something as complex as MOBAs if they’ve otherwise shown very little interest in them? You base it off a mega-popular IP, I suppose, although you run the risk of alienating those fans when the lore doesn’t really make sense in a MOBA context.


Essentially, Guardians of Middle-earth just doesn’t seem to have the lasting appeal it needs to, and it overcompensates for this by whitewashing itself with a thin coat of Tolkien paint. Don’t get me wrong, it does a lot of things right, and it does several things brilliantly. Unfortunately, this is a genre that requires a healthy community, and it’s hard to be optimistic about that here. Still, if you have any interest in seeing the MOBA genre on consoles, then you should definitely try this out; just don’t come into it expecting a competitive scene of any sort.

Josh Wirtanen
Editor / Social Media
Date: December 12, 2012

There’s a fair level of detail here, but that doesn’t come without frame rate issues.
The MOBA controls have been brilliantly translated to console controllers.
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The music is suitable, though some of the character voices sound just plain weird. Gandalf in particular.
Play Value
It’s hard to be optimistic about there even being a Guardians of Middle-earth community six months from now, and that’s going to make this a lot more difficult to enjoy over the long term.
Overall Rating - Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
Review Rating Legend
0.1 - 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 3.5 - 3.9 = Good 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair 4.0 - 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Enter the fray in epic 5-versus-5 engagements with live players or A.I. combatants.
  • Fight as over 20 iconic guardians from Middle-earth, each with different strengths and abilities to develop and master.
  • Purchase items and buffs between matches using in-game currency earned through combat.
  • Track victories and defeats at any time through stat and leaderboard systems.
  • Coordinate with allies using in-game voice communication for a uniquely social Multiplayer Online Battle Arena experience.
  • Engage in the continuing conflict over Middle-earth with new guardians to be revealed post launch, with several released in conjunction with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey motion picture to deliver gamers a deeper connection to Peter Jackson's epic film.

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