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iPhone  header logo

The Lord of the Rings: Middle-earth Defense

For: iPhone

The precious one

Product: The Lord of the Rings: Middle-earth Defense | Developer: Glu Mobile | Publisher: Glu Mobile | Format: iPhone | Genre: Film/ TV tie- in, Tower defence | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: Europe | App version: 1.1.0
The Lord of the Rings: Middle-earth Defense iPhone, thumbnail 1
Given that Frodo and company spent the majority of their adventure defending against a seemingly insurmountable foe, Glu's The Lord of the Rings: Middle-earth Defense feels entirely appropriate.

As its name suggests, you spend the entire game doing exactly what they did in the Peter Jackson films: defending.

Indeed, of all the franchises that have attempted to translate their appeal into a tower defence title, The Lord of the Rings offers up the most suitable material on paper.

Glu has ensured that potential translates into a digestible tower defence game, even if it lacks the depth and sophistication of its betters.

Position play

The game's success lies not in its ties with Tolkien's novels – which, in truth, don't really extend beyond the cursory lines of dialogue that precede each level – but rather the fact that this is tower defence delivered in its purest, simplest form.

Each level is a question of positioning. Expending gold and building materials in the process, your job is to place offensive forces and walls to hamper the progress of your enemy. Aragorn, Gandalf, Legolas, and other heroes from the Fellowship are on hand to chip away at foes from the sidelines.

The game automatically pauses the action between each flow of foes to allow you to adjust your tactics and make use of the extra credit that comes your way with each kill.

Given that the enemy tends to mix up its attack strategy with each wave, your own line up can also be shifted accordingly, pieces moved about as if on a chess board.

Not a numbers game

That said, any potentially confusing tactical intricacies have been kept at a minimum. While you can upgrade each hero character in terms of their range of attack, power, speed, and skill, there's no notion of health or even experience points.

That might sound like an unforgivable departure, but in truth, it streamlines the levelling up process and puts control entirely in your hands. Every upgrade you make bolsters your ability, but on your own terms. When the level ends, all such measures are reset, and you start from scratch again in a new location.

In essence, this makes The Lord of the Rings: Middle-earth Defense a series of one-off puzzles rather than one long, far-reaching adventure, but that's where the game's aforementioned edible quality comes into play: if one level doesn't exactly go to plan, you're not hampered in the next.

Special slip up

This simplicity can be labelled a weakness, although it's ideal for easing tower defence initiates.

The game's most tangible shortcoming comes via a slight fudge in controlling each hero's special ability. When it comes to deploying said special move, the game requires you to set a target – something of a problem if you want to aim off screen because any attempt to shift the camera sets off the skill.

The odd misplaced attack aside, however, The Lord of the Rings: Middle-earth endears because it offers a celebration of the tower defence genre, rather than a revolution of it.

It might not be as loaded with options as some of its peers, but the decision to break things down and put play before bowing to the series it sources in its Middle-earth melee is one that pays off.
The Lord of the Rings: Middle-earth Defense
Reviewer photo
Keith Andrew | 5 December 2010
Though dressed in full Lord of the Rings regalia, Middle-earth defense is an entry-level tower defence game that hits the basics, but doesn't reach any new heights
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