The second I walked into Warner Bros.’ booth, I grabbed out my phone and immediately texted one of my friends “they’re making a LotR MOBA….”
Coming out this fall for XBLA and PSN, Guardians of Middle Earth is just that, a Lord of the Rings MOBA, but one that caters to more of a faster pace, something I’m quite thankful for. As we saw with Awesomenauts, the genre is easily doable on the consoles, and Guardians is no different. To simply put it, good will face off against evil, so you can have Gandalf battling Sauron, the Witch King against Legolas, and Frodo against Gollum, as you move forward and…destroy the enemy’s base; destroying the ring can wait just a minute, towers and bases are far more important.
The game plays out similar to an action RPG experience in terms of controls. You’ll have your auto attack and then you’re three special attacks available on the face buttons. In addition, levelling up your skills, using potions, or special abilities is also both easy and intuitive; a keyboard and mouse is never missed, something that’s pretty important when you bring a PC genre onto consoles. But more importantly, it plays as if it was meant to be on consoles.
There’s no denying the heart of the genre is intact, as the map is small, comfortable, and allows for plenty of sneak attacks and tactical maneuvering. My hands on time with the game had me in the role of Sauron himself, walking across the map and unleashing hell upon my oppoenants. Interestlingly, Sauron’s walk animation suits him well; he patiently approaches until the time is right and then is able to unleash a vicious stun, knock back, and then–oh wait, they soaked up all my attacks, time to stealth and leave. Moments like that show how well balanced the game is, despite a refusal to give a firm release date. Heroes may seem a bit broken on paper, but when everything is executed, it’ll come down to both teamwork and each player’s skill, as it should in the genre.
Being a downloadable title, for presumably a discount, Guardians of Middle Earth is shaping up to be worthy pick up to help get your Tolkein fix in before The Hobbit is released this December. Guardians of Middle Earth is due out for PSN and XBLA this fall.