The Best and Worst Lord of the Rings Video Games: A Comprehensive Ranking

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The Lord of the Rings has captivated audiences for decades with its rich lore and epic storytelling. Alongside the successful movie adaptations, video game developers have attempted to bring the fantastical world of Middle-earth to life. However, not all of these games have been able to capture the magic of J.R.R. Tolkien’s masterpiece. In this article, we will explore the best and worst Lord of the Rings video games, delving into their strengths, weaknesses, and overall ranking.

35. The Hobbit: Battle Of The Five Armies – Fight For Middle Earth

Published in 2014 by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

Genre: Action Strategy

Platforms: Android, Apple iOS

Starting off our list of the worst Lord of the Rings games is The Hobbit: Battle Of The Five Armies – Fight For Middle Earth. Developed by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, this free-to-play mobile game failed to live up to the series’ previous iterations. Despite its promising genre of action strategy, the game falls short in delivering an engaging experience.

One of the main issues with Fight For Middle Earth is its lack of player control. The game barely allows players to exert any influence over the proceedings, resulting in a frustrating and barebones experience. Furthermore, the visuals and animation leave much to be desired, with ugly environments that don’t do justice to the world of Middle-earth.

34. The Lord Of The Rings: Legends Of Middle-Earth

Published in 2014 by Kabam

Genre: Turn-Based Role-Playing

Platforms: Android, Apple iOS

Legends Of Middle-Earth, developed by Kabam, falls into the category of forgettable Lord of the Rings games. As a turn-based RPG, the game offers players the opportunity to collect their favorite characters from the franchise. However, Legends Of Middle-Earth fails to deliver an entertaining experience, especially in terms of gameplay mechanics.

Grinding is a cornerstone of the turn-based RPG genre, but Legends Of Middle-Earth takes it to the extreme, making the process tedious and unenjoyable. Instead of picking up new characters and leveling up old ones in an engaging way, the game feels like a chore. Overall, it falls short of its potential and fails to leave a lasting impression.

33. Lord Of The Rings: Conquest

Published in 2009 by Electronic Arts

Genre: Action

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows, Nintendo DS

Lord Of The Rings: Conquest, developed by Electronic Arts, attempted to take the franchise in a different direction by offering players the choice to follow the path of good or evil. However, despite its interesting concept, the game falls flat due to several critical flaws.

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One of the major drawbacks of Conquest is its subpar graphics and poor writing. The visuals fail to impress, and the overall presentation lacks the polish expected from a Lord of the Rings game. Additionally, the combat mechanics are lackluster and fail to provide an engaging gameplay experience. Overall, Lord Of The Rings: Conquest is a disappointing entry in the franchise.

32. Lords Of The Rings Software Adventure

Published in 1985 by Beam Software

Genre: Text Adventure

Platforms: Amstrad CPC, Amstrad PCW, Apple II, BBC, Commodore 64, Dragon 32, IBM PC, Mac, ZX Spectrum

Beam Software’s Lords Of The Rings Software Adventure trilogy, consisting of The Fellowship of the Ring Software Adventure (1985), The Shadows of Mordor Software Adventure (1987), and The Crack of Doom Software Adventure (1989), attempts to capture the essence of J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy in a text adventure format. However, these games fall short in comparison to their predecessor, The Hobbit.

The Fellowship of the Ring Software Adventure, based on the first volume of the trilogy, benefits from the simplicity of its storyline, which works well in a text adventure format. However, the subsequent entries, The Shadows of Mordor and The Crack of Doom, fail to recapture the magic of their predecessor. Whether overwhelmed by Tolkien’s trilogy or lacking cohesion, these games pale in comparison to Beam Software’s earlier success.

31. The Hobbit: Armies Of The Third Age

Published in 2013 by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

Genre: Real-Time Strategy

Platforms: Facebook

Building on the solid foundations of The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-earth, Kabam’s The Hobbit: Armies Of The Third Age offers a serviceable real-time strategy experience. With three available factions and a robust multiplayer system, the game scratches the Tolkien itch for fans.

However, being a free-to-play mobile game, Armies Of The Third Age suffers from excessive waiting times for actions to complete, encouraging the use of premium currency. While not terrible, there are better ways to spend your time than waiting around for actions to finish in a game that offers only incremental improvements over its predecessor.

30. The Hobbit: Battle Of The Five Armies – Orc Attack

Published in 2013 by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

Genre: Browser

Platforms: Browser

The Hobbit: Battle Of The Five Armies – Orc Attack, developed by Google and published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, is a browser game that served as an advertisement for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit trilogy. While the game features stunning backgrounds and character models, the gameplay quickly becomes repetitive.

In Orc Attack, players can choose to play as Middle-earth’s Superman or other characters like Tauriel or Bard. However, regardless of the character chosen, the combat remains the same, resulting in a monotonous point-and-click shooter experience. Despite the beautiful artwork, Orc Attack fails to deliver a truly engaging gameplay experience.

29. J. R. R. Tolkien’s Riders Of Rohan

Published in 1991 by Konami

Genre: Real-Time Strategy

Platforms: IBM PC

Riders Of Rohan, developed by Konami, is a real-time strategy game that attempts to recreate the main plot points of J.R.R. Tolkien’s novels. While the game may appeal to devoted Tolkien fans due to its encyclopedic understanding of the narrative, it falls short in providing an engaging and strategic gameplay experience.

The game requires players to recreate exact moments from the book, following a pre-established plan to overcome fights. While this may make sense for a licensed product, it limits personal agency and reduces the game to an interactive picture book rather than a truly immersive strategy game.

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28. The Lord Of The Rings: Gollum

Published in 2023 by Daedalic Entertainment

Genre: Action-Adventure

Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, Windows

The latest Lord of the Rings game to hit the digital library is The Lord Of The Rings: Gollum. Developed by Daedalic Entertainment, the game offers an interesting premise by showcasing the world of Middle-earth from the perspective of Gollum, a layered and oft-overshadowed character.

However, Gollum falls short in terms of overall gameplay and visual distinctiveness. The game feels dated, reminiscent of licensed games from the past, and lacks consistency in gameplay mechanics. While it may appeal to die-hard fans eager for a different perspective, Gollum fails to deliver a truly memorable gaming experience.

27. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – A Journey Through Middle-Earth

Published in 2013 by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

Genre: Browser

Platforms: Google Chrome

While browser games often receive a bad reputation, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – A Journey through Middle-earth stands out as an exception. Developed by Google, the game deserves praise for its ambition and innovative approach.

In addition to a Hero’s Journey mode that allows players to experience the journey through the eyes of iconic characters, the game also offers the opportunity to participate in major battles from the perspective of both armies. This unique approach sets The Hobbit: A Journey through Middle-earth apart from typical browser games and provides an enjoyable gameplay experience.

26. Lord Of The Rings Pinball

Published in 2003 by Jamdat Mobile Inc.

Genre: Pinball

Platforms: Mobile

Lord of the Rings Pinball, developed by Jamdat Mobile Inc., offers a simple yet enjoyable pinball experience for fans of the franchise. While not widely known, the game manages to capture the essence of the Lord of the Rings world in a mobile pinball format.

Developed during a time when licensed games were prevalent, Lord of the Rings Pinball may not stand out as a groundbreaking title, but it remains a solid and functional game. With its visual elements and smooth gameplay, it provides a satisfying pinball experience for fans of the franchise.

25. The Hobbit: Kingdoms Of Middle-Earth

Published in 2012 by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

Genre: Strategy

Platforms: Android, Apple iOS

Developed by Kabam, The Hobbit: Kingdoms Of Middle-Earth follows the formula of complex yet approachable strategy mechanics that the studio is known for. While it may feel like a reskin of previous Kabam games, the Lord of the Rings theme offers a welcome change of pace.

Players can choose between Elves or Dwarves and embark on a journey to build a city and raise an army capable of dominating Middle-Earth. While the game lacks originality and feels formulaic, it still serves as an enjoyable strategy game with the added bonus of the Lord of the Rings universe.

24. War In Middle-Earth

Published in 1988 by Melbourne House

Genre: Real-Time Strategy

Platforms: Amiga, Apple IIGS, Atari ST, IBM PC

War In Middle-Earth, developed by Melbourne House, stands out as a surprisingly robust real-time strategy game that faithfully recreates Tolkien’s influential trilogy. Split into large-scale army battles and smaller-scale character levels, the game offers an extensive experience worthy of the Lord of the Rings name.

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While the gameplay lacks strategic depth and relies heavily on statistics, War In Middle-Earth impresses with its faithful retelling of the storyline. Released in 1988, the game showcases the technological limitations of its time but remains an impressive entry in the Lord of the Rings video game catalog.

23. The Lord Of The Rings Volume 1 & 2

Published in Vol. I 1990 and Vol. II 1992 by Interplay Productions

Genre: Role-Playing

Platforms: Vol. I FM Towns, IBM PC, PC-98, Amiga, SNES; Vol. II FM Towns, IBM PC, PC-98

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Vol. I and Vol. II, developed by Interplay Productions, were ambitious role-playing games released around the same time as Jurassic Park. While they may feel prehistoric in comparison to modern games, context is crucial in evaluating their impact.

Drawing inspiration from Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda, the games attempted to create a decent adaptation of Tolkien’s novels. However, the delayed SNES port and outdated gameplay mechanics contributed to their lackluster reception. Despite their flaws, these games showcase the ambition of early Lord of the Rings video game adaptations.

22. The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring

Published in 2002 by Black Label Games (rereleased by Sierra)

Genre: Action-Adventure

Platforms: Windows, PlayStation 2, Xbox, Game Boy Advance

Released alongside the resounding success of Peter Jackson’s movies, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring aimed to include elements from the book that didn’t make it into the final cut of the film. While it offers a more comprehensive experience for fans seeking the full scope of the story, the game falls short in terms of repetitive combat.

Despite its redeeming qualities, including the inclusion of cut content, The Fellowship Of The Ring suffers from monotonous combat mechanics that fail to engage players. While not a terrible title, it is ultimately bogged down by its lack of variety and repetitive gameplay.

21. The Lord Of The Rings: Middle-Earth Defense

Published in 2010 by Glu Mobile

Genre: Tower Defense

Platforms: Apple iOS

The Lord of the Rings: Middle-Earth Defense, released in 2010 by Glu Mobile, marks the first successful Lord of the Rings mobile game. While previous attempts may have been underwhelming, Middle-Earth Defense stands out as a well-established and enjoyable game.

Taking advantage of the tower defense craze, Glu Mobile simplified the mechanics to create a game that is accessible to a wide audience. With 18 different stages and the satisfaction of seeing iconic characters like Gandalf in action, Middle-Earth Defense offers a satisfying gameplay experience for fans of the franchise.

Conclusion

In this comprehensive ranking of Lord of the Rings video games, we have explored the best and worst titles that have attempted to bring the world of Middle-earth to life. While some games have succeeded in capturing the magic of J.R.R. Tolkien’s masterpiece, others have fallen short in delivering an engaging and immersive experience.

Whether it’s the lack of player control in Fight For Middle Earth or the repetitive combat in The Fellowship Of The Ring, these games have faced various challenges in translating the rich lore and epic storytelling of The Lord of the Rings into interactive experiences. However, they have also provided fans with moments of joy and excitement, allowing them to delve deeper into the beloved world of Middle-earth.

As technology continues to advance, we can only hope for future Lord of the Rings video games that truly capture the essence of the novels and provide players with unforgettable experiences in the realm of Middle-earth. Until then, we can cherish the highs and lows of the existing games and appreciate the effort put into bringing this beloved franchise to the gaming world.

Additional Information: The Lord of the Rings video games have been released across a wide range of platforms, including consoles, PC, and mobile devices. The franchise has seen various genres represented, including action, adventure, strategy, RPG, and more.

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