Having never played a MOBA, I was pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable and addictive the wars became. Also, batches of help screens and tips spelled out the depth of building characters and succeeding in matches. Completely playing through the tutorial even unlocks Gandalf the Wizard.
Additionally, the design of menu screens ties in the love of trading-card games (characters’ stats are pulled up via illustrated cards) and those mini-figures on the field got my pop-culture collectibility geek roaring with approval.
Although Tolkien purists will consider the teaming of villain and hero sacrilege, (Would Gandalf ever help Sauron, ever?), the character models and their power effects on screen bring beauty to the chaos while plenty of well-known war cries from “Lord of the Rings” legends are inspiring.
Guardians of Middle-earth will not only please the casual fan of the Tolkien fantasy world, but also give new gamers a way to enjoy the MOBA experience through its watered-down appeal while not completely alienating the hard-core audience of the genre.