Outside the license: Return of the Witch-King
TomChick - News - 11/03/06 - Link

It's been another superlative year for RTSs, but it's not over yet. Electronic Arts' expansion pack for Battle for Middle Earth II should be available shortly after Thanksgiving.

I've been playing an early build of the Return of the Witch-King add-on
, and I'm looking forward to the final version. Particularly the great new War of the Ring mode, and some nice adjustments to the existing factions that seem to fold nicely into what EA did with the 1.05 patch. Mordor should be particularly happy.

However, although I've only futzed around with them, I'm not crazy about the new Angmar faction. They seem to require a lot of micromanagement with their Thrall Masters and Sorcerors. That sort of tactical fiddling isn't really what drives Battle for Middle Earth II.

Also, it only vaguely feels like the Lord of the Rings stuff we know and love. It reminds me a bit of the Forces of Corruption expansion for Star Wars: Empire at War. I don't play these RTSs so I can muck around with stuff the developers thought up. Dark Rangers with ice arrows? A teleporting Wight hero? A giant werewolf who looks like he stumbled into the wrong door on the way to Black & White?

Instead, I want to have fleets of X-Wings or hordes of orcs. I want Darth Vader and Luke or Boromir and Lurtz. Give me Warg Riders and Rohirrim of AT-ATs and Snowspeeders. To be fair, there are only so many assets a developer can draw from a license before they have to think up new stuff to keep the franchise going. Look how well EA did with Battle for Middle Earth II: the new goblin faction is totally sweet.

But I'm not buying yet that these new Angmar upstarts feel very Lord of the Rings. Which might be the point, since it's a prequel. We'll see.

No hard feelings, Witch-King. I still think you're pretty cool, even if you don't look nearly as fearsome without your Fellbeast.

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