Guardians of Middle-earth is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) set in the Lord of the Rings universe. Developed by Monolith and published by Warner Bros Games, Guardians is a first real effort to bring the MOBA genre to the console (Xbox 360/PlayStation 3). While not every genre is able to fluidly make the transition from PC to console and vice versa, Monolith does an exceptional job of capturing the essence of a MOBA and bringing it to life on the console.
For the uninitiated, a MOBA (like League of Legends) is a cross between a real-time strategy (RTS) game and an action-RPG. There are two sides, each with a base that must be conquered to achieve victory. Defending your base are towers and soldiers. Managing and upgrading your base and soldiers constitutes the RTS side of the game. The action-RPG side involves you earning experience in order to level up your skills in order to aid you in destroying your enemies. It’s extremely fast-paced and involves some strategy in how you wage war, as well as excellent personal tactics to maximize your character’s output.
For those familiar with MOBAs, your big question is whether or not this genre works on a console. The resounding answer is yes. Your basic skills are mapped to the face buttons for easy access and the right trigger / R2 (for Xbox 360 and PS3, respectively) is your basic attack. I actually feel like I have more control of my character and my aiming with the analog sticks on my controller rather than right-clicking all over the place like I do in League of Legends. It’s easier to avoid attacks and obstacles that way.
More than just simple button-mapping, Monolith made Guardians of Middle-earth just feel comfortable in your hands. Commands and skills are easy to understand, along with a clean user interface. There is not a lot of complication to each match, but that is not to say the game is simplistic. You set your gear (relics and gems) before the match starts leaving you free to only have to worry about your skill upgrades, shrine control and your base. I like that I can focus on what I care about – attacking and defending – and less about whether or not I’ve purchased the correct gear in right order.
Lastly, as a big fan of the Lord of the Rings universe, I just had a blast playing my favorite characters. There are currently 22 characters in the list and 5 different classes to choose from, creating much variety. My favorite characters to play with at the moment are Galadriel (Defender class), Gollum (Striker), Sauron (Warrior) and Hildifons Took (Tactician). That’s four completely separate classes, and they’re all fun in their own way. Plus who doesn’t want to see cool combinations like Sauron and Gandalf the Grey fighting side by side.
Overall, Guardians of Middle-earth is everything you would want in a MOBA on the console. The controls feel great in your hands and it translates seamlessly. The most important thing is that the game is pure fun and full of excitement. I’ve lost matches by one point and at other times won with just seconds to go. If you are a fan of multiplayer online battle arenas or just a fan of the Lord of the Rings universe, I would absolutely recommend picking up Guardians of Middle Earth. For more on Guardians, be sure to check out my gameplay and commentary videos above.
You can get Guardians of Middle-earth on the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 for 2400 Microsoft Points and $29.99 respectively. Be sure to check out my gameplay videos and trailers for more on the game!
Guardians of Middle-earth Launch Trailer
Guardians of Middle-earth Gameplay Best Classes
Guardians of Middle-earth Gameplay Gollum