Guardians of Middle-earth is a completely unique arcade that offers one of the best multiplayer experiences on Xbox Live arcade and PSN. This game symbolizes a perfect multiplayer online battle arena and has the options and abilities to compliment that play style. In Guardians of Middle- earth the player will team up with both heroes and villains, forming the most implausible coalitions, in order to destroy the enemy team’s base. This competitive multiplayer plots 5 players against 5 in the creative scene of Middle-earth. Gamers are able to choose from over 20 guardians from one of the paramount fictitious epic of all time. There is so much packed into Guardians of Middle-earth one might wonder why this game is only an arcade.
Before we get into the positive and negative points about this title it is important to understand the way the game is played. The game is almost completely online as most all aspects revolve around multiplayer. In each match the goal it to progress your way destroying enemy towers and fortifications to gain access to the main base. Once the enemies main based is reached and destroyed you win the game. The player is set in an arena with either three main routes to get to the enemies base or one main route to get to the enemies base. In a 3-lane game strategy goes a long way and the objective takes some time to complete, in a 1-lane match it is fast-paced and mistakes are critical to your team’s success or failure.
The player takes the role of one of the guardians and is accompanied by AI controlled soldiers who aid is competing the task at hand. The only way to get to the enemy base is by destroying the towers that protect it with your team. Communication among teams is crucial to winning and there is more to the game then running out and killing everything in sight. The way it is set up is sort of like a table top game, except it is fast-paced, the damage dealt is seen and there are more abilities at hand.
As the game progresses the player levels up. Each match set a limit of the player leveling up to 14 and that level helps predict who will win a battle among two or more guardians. Once the match is over that level will reset which makes for a very fair match among seasoned pros and new comer’s. The resetting of the level in each game is important to players who might be new to the game. Although there is a leveling system outside of each match that is rewarded as well as with in-game currency the level in matches plays more of a role in the damage that your character can dish out. The player is rewarded for playing match after match just like any games multiplayer mode, however, Guardians of Middle-earth makes the leveling system fair by having it to where the level that matters is regained every match; keeps things fair for all players.
As the player gets better at the game it is important for them to note that learning each character is vital for constant success in matches. There are 5 different character classes to choose from each with different abilities and other perks that shape the way a character should be played. The player can choose from warrior, striker, mage, tactician and defender. As some of the classes explain themselves one of the more interesting classes in our opinion is the tactician. While defenders protect and warriors push forward it seems as if it is the tactician that controls the playing field. All classes are worth playing as to find a perfect fit for the gamer’s particular gaming style. It is important to make sure your team is well rounded and to know who you’re playing as for the best success.
Guardians of Middle-earth also come complete with a very detailed tutorial system. Before getting thrown into the aggressive battle arena the player can choose to take part in a tutorial. The tutorial explains much more than just how to play the game but it describes every little element in the game and how it should be used in an easy to follow manner. As it is important to know what to do on the battle grounds it is also very important to know how to customize a load out and how to use your in-game currency. The tutorial goes over everything that needs to be known as well as making itself easily accessible at any time in the options menu if the player feels lost. The tutorial is easily reachable for whenever you feel a question that needs to be answered and it’s at the player’s convenience in the in-game menu. Players who have never experienced a game like this should be fearless in their first match.
The game is a classic example of a multiplayer battle arena, where the player can engage in this type of game play with the comfort of their console controller in hand. As most titles similar to Guardians of Middle-earth are geared toward a PC player, this game goes above and beyond to morph itself into a console game. One of the main worries focused around this title specifically was the console compatibility; how would the player feel playing this type of game with a controller, how would the average console player connect to the way the buttons were arranged and will it feel ‘at-home’. The glory of Guardians of Middle-earth is that it is geared toward any player with a taste of any genre. The controls work perfectly for console systems even with the variety of different abilities the player has at their disposal.
Each guardian has a lore-based skill set that can be upgraded as the player sees fit. As each match progresses there are options to upgrade certain abilities and even to the point of gaining entry to new abilities once a certain level is reached. Knowing your guardian becomes key to success in the game as well as knowing what you have at your disposal as well as which perks and buffs can be used. Out of the game the player can purchase things like potions, relics and gems which will help them succeed in their next game. Relics are a way to give players perks that they can choose and buy themselves with the money they have earned in game. There are also potions and characters that can be bought in the menus. As relics and gems are things that constantly help the player through each game it is equip the potions are something that must be purchased each time they are used. There are many different customizable load-outs that can be made as the player gains more experience points by playing more matches.
In each match there are also side tasks player can do to help their team gain the advantage. Things like upgrading towers and soldiers will make the match turn in your favor very quickly. When a tower is upgraded it can do things like heal those who are friendly around it, do more damage to those attacking it and more. Soldier upgrades are also important because they are constantly pushing forward and the more damage they can withstand and deal out the better the player’s team will likely do. One of the more interesting yet simple aspects of the game is the way the guardians turn invisible when they are in heavy brush. This adds and extra element of strategy in the game in such a simple manager by bringing in the element of surprise and option to sneakily flank. Those who are smart can even set up way for their team to ambush an enemy just by using the cover provided by the plants. The plants also provide good cover for someone who is in need of healing. Simply make your way over to a bush and transport back to base to regain health…. Just make sure your actions remain unseen.
Shrines and creatures are also big perks when it comes to swaying the score board in your favor. The shrines give the players team perks but can be stolen by the opposing team at any point during a match. Each match has a set number of shrines and who has them under control has a lot to do with who is leading the game. Another aspect of the game that is important to note is the creatures waiting to fight at points during the matches. These are tough creatures that will only attack if they are provoked and yet if they are provoked and destroyed the player who deals the final blow will be rewarded immensely which end up better aiding the team. The amount of this that can be done is out of this world for an arcade title. It would be impossible to describe every element in Guardians of Middle-earth to someone who has not tried the game out for themselves.
Guardians of Middle-earth is said to be getting ties with the upcoming film The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. In the game fans will ultimately be able to look forward to several new guardians to lead up to and surpass the release of the motion picture. It is a neat addition to the game that fans of the series will be able to look forward to. As it would be hard to say that Guardians of Middle- earth is a game only for fans of the Lord of the Rings series it is feared that people not in connection with the series won’t give the game a try. Despite the way the game would be fit for any player it cannot be predicted that people who are not fans of the series will even consider giving the game a shot. It is a great game that almost any player would be able to get into yet, so many will probably turn a blind eye to this diamond of an arcade title.
The main negative draw back about Guardians of Middle-earth is with the community. This game has every element it need to compete with huge games out there but it is only an arcade which will most likely draw less attention to the game. The only reason why less attention focusing on the game will hinder the player’s experience with it is the fear there won’t always be a large population to play with. Because Guardians of Middle- earth is so focused on online and multiplayer if the servers weren’t always populated the player may not always be able to get into a game. Even though this game has everything it needs to compete with the best of them it a matter of a large population giving it a chance to grown on them because it does take some getting used to. Once the player is captivated there’s no putting it down, it’s a matter of how many people are ‘captivate’ at the same time if there will be enough matches for everyone to find someone’s to play with.
The plus side about a possibly small number of people sticking with the game and the possibility of matches getting harder and harder to find as the release date gets farther and farther behind us, if the player did have a group of friends to play the game with this issue may not even be considered a problem. Guardians of Middle-earth would be the perfect games to get into a friendly competition with your friends in, so if you are planning on getting the game maybe try to convince other you know to try it out as well. This game would be ultimate to play with a large group of people you already know.
Guardians of Middle- earth can arguably be considered one of the best arcades out right now. This is a game that steps so far out of the ‘cookie-cutter’ example of an arcade game. If it wasn’t for the large fear of under population due to the lack of knowledge of how great this title is, it would nearly be a perfect score! Guardians of Middle-earth comes out for PSN on December 4th for $14.99 and December 5th on the Xbox Live arcade for 1200 Microsoft Points. There is also going to be a season pass for the same price that will allow players to get their hands on future characters, map skins and a new mode at a discounted price. This game is truly a fantastic title with so many useful elements jammed into an arcade. It is worth a try for not just fans of the series but for gamers as a whole. Take the time to experience this truly unique experience on console and prepare yourself to engage in the ultimate battle in Middle-earth!