Guardians of Middle-Earth review
Can the Lord of the Rings MOBA make a splash in the clannish genre? Find out in the games™ review.
Despite the rather grandiose license, Guardians Of Middle Earth isn’t remotely ashamed of what it’s actually trying to be. This is a by-the-numbers, generic-by-definition MOBA, designed purely to give console gamers the kind of experience that has until now been the realm of the PC. This is League Of Legends or DOTA 2 for console. The license simply exists to lend the project credence.
If you’re going to copy something, you should do it well, and that’s exactly what former FEAR developer Monolith has done. There might not be an original bone in its body, but Guardians Of Middle Earth is nonetheless a supremely well-designed MOBA, one that plays by the rules of others without compromise.
You might be new to the genre, or curious about this new gaming rock and roll that has assaulted the industry with the force of Sauron’s armies at Helm’s Deep. Guardians Of Middle Earth is here for you. Through a quick and concise tutorial, it ploughs through the concepts of towers, soldiers, lords (guardians here), shrines and creatures, all of the stuff that will have the snootier LoL players yelling at you for not understanding if you dare step foot in that rather hostile world.
As this is a console experience, the community is both more forgiving and generally of a lower average skill level, so you can dive in and get your head around its systems without feeling intimidated (or more accurately, like you’re ruining someone else’s fun). Grabbing hold of Gandalf or Gollum (you only play as a single character in a MOBA, which is essentially a multiplayer RTS played on very strict lane-based maps) and smashing through a platoon of enemy soldiers is surprisingly accessible, and while you might die a little too regularly or sprint headlong into a few too many towers, every mistake is an opportunity to learn. No one starts off good at a MOBA. You just have to stick with it.
Whether Guardians Of Middle Earth will actually be around long enough to support that level of studiousness, though, is another matter. Even during release week, it regularly takes between five and ten minutes to get a game on 360, and quite often the teams of five will have to be padded out with a couple of AI bots. The worry that everyone who wants to play MOBAs is already playing them on PC must be on Warner and Monoliths minds.
Hopefully, though, Guardians will pick up pace as word gathers about its quality. Monolith has done great work in crafting a control scheme that feels completely without compromise and entirely suited to console, and has designed an accessible, familiar and extremely deep MOBA with the just as much panache as the games it imitates.