The Many Towers
The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy hit theaters about a decade ago and was met with resounding success. The books' universe is about to be revisited with a film adaptation of The Hobbit this coming winter. Predictably, in order to prepare for its arrival (or perhaps to cash-in on the property), a couple of video games are being developed that take place in the aforementioned universe. With Travellers' Tales handling an expectedly light-hearted, but welcome take on Lord of the Rings with their LEGO series, developer Monolith is providing gamers with darker, more action-heavy gameplay with Guardians of Middle-Earth.
In an interesting twist, Guardians of Middle-Earth is not your typical retelling of the Lord of the Rings saga. Rather than allowing players to journey across famous settings and venture through pivotal plot points, Guardians has you team with others in a massive online battle arena. The genre is a mix of role-playing level progression and real-time strategy gameplay (like the immensely popular League of Legends or Defense of the Ancients).
Equipping specific gems to your character's gem belt furnishes them with specific abilities, altering speed or damage, etc. Each map will be based on familiar narrative locales, but the task at hand is to destroy your opponents' towers while keeping yours safe. You can even upgrade your towers with elements like a healing area effect or the ability to sustain more damage from incoming attacks. These factors should help provide a sense of progression to the proceedings.
In order to construct your five-person team, Guardians of Middle-Earth will offer over 20 characters to choose from, the titular "Guardians". A few of the confirmed ones so far include the powerful wizard Gandalf; the sharp-shooting elf, Legolas; the lowly, but conniving Gollum; and the dark lord Sauron himself. Each character will expectedly have different attributes, so trying out each and combining the right set of diverse characters to achieve your common objective should provide ample reason to keep playing.
This fall, Guardians of Middle-Earth will be available exclusively (and surprisingly) on Xbox LIVE and PlayStation Network (there is no word on a Wii U version, but the benefits of the new touch screen controller should make it a natural fit). Mainly a PC-based genre due to the quick accuracy of selecting individual targets to act upon, massive online battle arena games are understandably underrepresented on consoles. To combat this, the developers are employing area effect attacks and actions, which is proving to be quite a serviceable change.
The hope is to have teamwork as a focal point, and with its multiplayer online concentration, deep competitive play should be the chief selling point (beyond Tolkien's rich universe, of course). If Guardians of Middle-Earth proves successful, it should pave the way for more games of its ilk to make it on consoles.
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