The Lord of the Rings: Middle-earth Defense in Review – My preciousssss tower defense.

Gather round fair travellers, for have I a story to tell you. A story of friendship, bravery and tower defense. Arguably one of the best known fantasy books ever, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings have become a genre in its own right. Such a legend just could not avoid interest from the game development community. From early 80s interactive fiction to RPGs to massive scale strategy games, it seems the devs have thrown almost anything they could think of at the franchise. And with all this attention it’s obvious that a Lord of the Rings iDevice title was just a question of time. Well, the time has come and quite surprisingly the release took form of a Tower Defense game by the name of The Lord of the Rings: Middle-earth Defense.

The Lord of the Rings: Middle-earth Defense is quite an original semi-fixed path tower defense game. I will not reiterate the whole story here (God knows it took 3 books the first time), but to outline the generalities – it follows the adventures of Frodo and his companions in their quest to destroy the Ring and stop Sauron from taking over the land. I have to hand it the developers for taking key events and portraying them from such an original angle.

Middle-earth Defense puts you in control of Frodo and the gang as they face Sauron’s hordes in milestone events across their whole journey. Each stop in their journey is carefully rendered in full 3D, with short descriptions of the preceding events and some cutscenes to help anyone not familiar with the books or movies. Middle-earth Defense is different from most other Tower Defense games in the sense that since we are in charge of the party of unique heroes, there’s only one of each available, so don’t imagine yourself placing a hundred Legolases on the field.

The game itself features sort of a blend  between the classic open-field and fixed path Tower Defense games – there is a fixed labyrinth in place with entry and exit points marked. But at the same time you can place barriers to influence what path the enemies actually take to lure them in the clutches of your team. The characters themselves are placed near the path, so careful planning is required to make the most of their abilities.

Speaking of which, all heroes are split into 2 groups: the warriors and the supporting ones. The warriors are about twice as expensive but are naturally far more powerful and have special abilities to help you cope with the masses of enemies. The support characters, featuring the hobbits and some minor other units, are much weaker but can be essential to give you that extra edge. Each unit has 3 characteristics which can be upgraded independently: attack power, attack speed and range. The latter is important both for ranged attackers and melee ones, as it defines how far they will follow Sauron’s minions.

Visually the game looks great, with richly detailed and colourfully lit environments and nicely modeled characters. I was somewhat disappointed with the seemingly laggy performance on my iPhone 4, which seems to be more a product of poor animation rather than lack of optimization however.  Fans of the movie, by the way, will enjoy seeing all of their favourite heroes with portraits taken directly from Peter Jackson’s adaptations.

The Lord of the Rings: Middle-earth Defense turns out to be a great addition to the App Store’s TD category of games. Taking control of Frodo and his companions, you can now relive the events that we could have only read about before right in the palm of your hand. Glu Mobile did a great job merging the two subgenres of Tower Defense and wrapping it around the famous franchise to produce a top-notch game, one that is sure to appease both fans of the books/movies and the gaming genre.

With this I declare The Lord of the Rings: Middle-earth Defense officially touched!

App Summary
Title: The Lord of the Rings: Middle-earth Defense Developer: Glu
Reviewed Ver: 1.3.0 Min OS Req: 3.0
Price: $4.99 App Size: 200.77MB
  • All our favourite heroes
  • Great graphics
  • An original blend of subgneres
  • Seeming lags even on the latest iPhone 4
  • No special skills for Frodo and his hobbit friends


Take a look at a few more Tower Defense reviews on the iDevice:

A project manager in a major telecommunications supplier, an iPhone junkie and lately - a TMA editor. Love long walks on the beach and my wife, who is the most beautiful girl on the face of this planet. You can also follow me on twitter for all things iPhone and project management (and some personal stuff as well):

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