The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle Earth II on the Xbox 360 has caused quite a stir in the Internet community. A Real Time Strategy game (RTS) appearing on a console that uses a gamepad instead of a mouse and keyboard really caught the interest of the media including myself. If they could manage this in The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle Earth II, it would open the way for many more titles from this genre to the Xbox 360 taking away yet more reasons the need for a home personal computer for games. I will be writing a full review in the near future, but here are my first impressions of the Xbox 360 version:
So have they nailed the controls? Well believe it or not yes they have, well almost…
As you would expect with any game which used to rely so heavily on a mouse and keyboard is that some very clever tidying up of the menus would be needed and this has indeed been the case. By holding in the right trigger, you can fairly quickly navigate to the area of your choosing and oh my it actually works very well. The addition of ‘bookmarks’ so you can predefine which troops you want to select works well in many battle situations.
I had a game of the 4 player online on Xbox Live the other night and even with a controller, the action was swift and devastating. There were a few slight lag issues, however there were people from over the pond in the game, so all in all not bad at all.
Graphically the game is just as good as all the settings set to maximum on the PC version. You have to love that water effect! The textures look fantastic and in high definition, you really see all the details as you would expect, but with a game of commanding small units, even more so.
So where does that leave us… well we already know that Command and Conquer is coming to the Xbox 360 and possibly thanks to the work in The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle Earth II proving that you can do far more with a simple gamepad than we all originally thought.