The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-Earth is a PC real-time strategy game developed by EA Los Angeles. It is based on Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, in turn based on J. R. R. Tolkien's original novel. The game uses short video clips from the movies and a number of the voice actors, including the hobbits and wizards. It uses the SAGE engine from Command & Conquer: Generals and was released on December 6, 2004. The sequel, The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II, was released on March 2, 2006.
The online servers of The Battle for Middle Earth were permanently closed on December 31, 2010 by EA Games, due to the expiration of The Lord of the Rings gaming rights." The game is no longer on sale and not available for online play, however it is still possible to use the multiplayer function of the game via Virtual private network programs.
The game retains the basic mechanics of real-time strategies. Warring factions gather resources, then use them to construct military bases and armies on-site. In Battle for Middle-Earth, buildings may only be constructed on the building slots of predefined plots. Plots range from farmhouses to full-fledged castles, with different slot arrangements and available buildings, and plots can be purchased when they're in the sole presence of a side's forces. The only resource are the nebulous "resources," which are produced inexhaustibly in dedicated buildings.
Four factions on two sides wage the War of the Ring: Representing the Free Peoples are the horse-lords of Rohan, and Gondor with its forges and battlements. The Forces of Darkness are the fighting Uruk-hai of Isengard, and Mordor's orc hordes, bolstered by Haradrim, Mûmakil and Trolls.
Keeping with the trends of contemporary RTS titles, basic units operate in groups, significant characters are represented by "hero units" as popularized by Warcraft III, and the destruction of units gathers points for the purchase of special abilities. There is also a unit limit.
Unit strengths and weaknesses form a sort of rock-paper-scissors system. Cavalry beats archers as they do not have a lot of time to fire and are then forced to close quarters fighting, Pikemen beat cavalry, swordsmen beat pikemen and archers beat swordsmen. Fire beats Ents, Mumakil, and Trolls. Units gain experience and levels, becoming hardier and more dangerous. Squads replace lost members when rank 2 or higher without losing experience.