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Battle for Middle Earth II - (Xbox360) Discussion

Romier S

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Some RTS action coming to the 360 this summer, and not an announcement I expected to see at all....


EA Announces the Lord of the Rings, the Battle for Middle-earth II for the Xbox 360; Players Can Now Command the Epic Battles of Middle-earth from Their Living Room Couch


REDWOOD CITY, Calif. --(Business Wire)-- Jan. 13, 2006 -- Electronic Arts (Nasdaq:ERTS) today announced that the highly anticipated PC game, The Lord of the Rings™, The Battle for Middle-earth™ II will make its exclusive console debut when it ships in Summer 2006 on the Xbox 360™. Players can now command epic Middle-earth battles presented in spectacular high-definition from the comfort of their very own couch. To add to the intensity of the experience, The Lord of the Rings, The Battle for Middle-earth II for the Xbox 360 is the first game in The Lord of the Rings™ series that will be playable over Xbox LIVE™(1). Players will be able to challenge friends online and engage in intense, action-packed real-time battles.



"Living these cinematic battles in high-definition with stunning surround sound, all from the comfort of your living room couch on the Xbox 360, is an extraordinary experience," said Louis Castle, VP of Creative Development at EALA. "Adding the ability to battle it out with friends via Xbox LIVE is also really exciting."


Based on the PC version of the same name, The Lord of the Rings, The Battle for Middle-earth II for the Xbox 360 will bring players into the heart of Middle-earth to live the battles seen in the blockbuster New Line Cinema films and classic J.R.R. Tolkien literary fiction. The game boasts a new and intuitive console-specific control scheme that will allow novice players to enjoy the game's signature strategy gameplay while giving expert players the flexibility needed to engage in a deeply complex strategy experience. Players will directly control hundreds of units in an attempt to defeat enemy armies, conquer new lands, and seal the fate of Middle-earth.


Developed at EA's Los Angeles studio, The Lord of the Rings, The Battle for Middle-earth II for the Xbox 360 offers players a new depth of The Lord of the Rings fiction never before explored in an EA console game. The game makers at EALA have brought The Lord of the Rings world to life in accordance with an agreement with The Saul Zaentz Company d/b/a Tolkien Enterprises that grants EA the rights to develop games based on the books, in addition to a separate agreement that allows for games based on the New Line Cinema films.


The Lord of the Rings, The Battle for Middle-earth II for the Xbox 360 has not yet been rated by the ESRB and the PC version is rated "T" for Teen by the ESRB. For more information about either game, please visit: http://www.bfme2.ea.com. For information about all of EA's games, please visit EA's press site at http://www.info.ea.com


Some more info on the control scheme:


The Xbox 360 version, designed in-house at EA Los Angeles, features what is being touted as a unique and intuitive control scheme by the studio's Vice President of Creative Development, Westwood co-founder Louis Castle.


"People will want to say, 'this is a port,' and well, it is and it isn't," Louis Castle told Gamasutra in an exclusive interview. "It's actually a re-imagining of the core compulsions that the PC games had, and in a way that's inherently intuitive to a console controller. It's a huge undertaking, and we've got a fairly large team working around the clock to make it a quality product."


The exact details of this new control scheme have yet to be revealed, nor has the proposed release date, and EA is remaining tight-lipped for the time being.


"We're not treating it as a mouse, it doesn't have a big complex display, it really is native to what you think of with camera movement and navigation for a console game," continued Castle. "And I can leave you to imagine from there."


Additionally, the game will feature Xbox Live support, including voice over IP and a number of Xbox 360-exclusive modes, including FPS-favorites "Capture the Flag" and "King of the Hill," though in a real-time strategy setting.

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Battle for Middle Earth was extremely streamlined. Many people in fact did not like how streamlined it was. The first game was enjoyable enough, but it did have some issues. They seemed to have corrected some of the problems of the first game by adding some depth (including city building) to this one. We'll see how it turns out.

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Some more impressions are out there from IGN and Gamespot:




Simple so far? Should be. I got hold of the controls while visiting EA Monday and I instantly was able to do everything. Press right trigger to pull up the command bar for spells, calling up more units, etc., or press the left bumper to grab all characters of one type, like all goblins, dwarves, or warriors. This way you can pick out individuals for special tasks or tactical attacks. The right trigger commands all types, which means all characters across the entire screen, even those not in sight. You can even press and hold A to sweep over groups if you prefer that method. No matter which way you approach it, the game's controls are quick to learn and intuitive.


For a PC gamer who's trained him or herself on the PC controls, the Xbox 360 controls are simply a matter of re-training and re-mapping your fingers to the smooth white controller. And then getting used to the new controls. Within a few minutes you should be pretty much used to the simple set of commands and from there, it's all about increasing your speed and dexterity. You can use the D-pad as a shortcut all sorts of commands, too, such as calling up spells, commanding units, etc. I could spent the 24 hours trying to convince you these controls were the greatest ever, but what will really convince you? Simply seeing them in motion or doing it yourself. Both Dan Adams, a veteran RTS player on PC and I, a former RTS player, were instantly able to pick the game up and move.


From Gamespot:




To that end, Battle for Middle-earth II features a smart control scheme that makes good use of the Xbox 360 controller. The entire scheme revolves around a context-sensitive reticule that rests in the center of the screen. You'll use the two analog sticks to move around the maps--the left stick moves you around the field of battle while the right stick zooms you in and out. The reticule will change function depending on where it is and let you move, attack, or build with units. The main action button in the game will be the A button, which will let you select single units or structures by pressing it when your reticule is in position. Holding down the button will let you "paint" over units and add them to a group on the fly. When you've got a unit or structure selected, you'll use the right trigger to call up action or build menus depending on what you've selected. Once you have those fundamentals down, the game features an intuitive array of modifiers you can access that give you more functionality. The right bumper will let you sort units by type, while the left bumper will let you add and subtract individual units. The left trigger will let you select all units onscreen with the exception of builders. The X button will let you return to a selected unit if you've moved to another part of the map with that unit still selected. The Y button is a very smart hotkey that lets you jump to events, such as attacks on your camps, instantly. If you find that the situation is in hand when you get there, you can simply tap it again to go back to where you were on the map.


One of the smartest adaptations is the way groups are handled. You can make different groups from your forces, which will let you create specialized squads, such as an all-archer group. You can then "bookmark" these squads, letting you hop between different groups quickly and efficiently. The best aspect of the bookmark system is that you can also mark structures and access their build menus when you're on another part of the map. So, for example, you can bookmark an elven barracks and create soldiers or archers without having to find the building and select them from the build menu. You'll simply call it up with your bookmarks, put in your order, and go back to your business. The nice touch is that while doing this, you can also set your waypoint by pressing the A button with the building selected. If you find the simple system of juggling between different options a little daunting, the D pad will serve as a handy set of shortcuts that let you hop to your key needs while playing. Up on the D pad selects your heroes, right selects your available spells, down will call up your buildings, and left will call up your bookmark menu.


...and some new screens:







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I am not familiar with Myth. How is this of the same style? Myth was an RTS? By Bungie?


Oh yes, it was, though some would argue that it was a tactical game and not a strategic one per se. It dispensed with the -- to me -- boring parts like resource gathering and contruction and simply made with the killing. As usual, the Wikipedia is your friend. I had so much fun with the first two games in that series.


This is looking more and more like it's inspired at least partly by Myth.

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