This is a very challenging and fun game. It has bigger battalion sizes and more room for customization than its predecessor, BFME 1, and the Create-a-Hero option makes for even more exciting gameplay. The build anywhere feature is also nice, allowing you to build wells, towers, and unit production structures right next to the enemy's base. I really liked the way it has Gondor and Rohan fused into a single faction. You can expand your command point limit without modding the game, so you can get enough troops to swarm the enemy and defend your base at the same time. There are features that let you select your entire army across the map and have it form up automatically in the most sensible arrangement. Furthermore, all the archers have a "bombard" feature, which allows them to shower arrows continuously on a specific location.
However, there are no prebuilt walls, meaning the enemies can just rush you and destroy your buildings before you even have a couple of battalions of infantry. Also, the resource-generating structures need a HUGE area of free space around them to generate resources at 100%, so money doesn't add up fast enough to build up defenses before the enemy starts swarming you. You can build walls for some factions, but they're frightfully expensive and until you download the patches, enemy swordsmen can take them down. The game also lacks the charm of its predecessor, and with the new units and structures not based on the movies it seems less like Lord of the Rings and more like some other fantasy, with the Goblin and Dwarvish factions being particularly cheesy. Some people may not mind this, but being a die-hard LOTR fan I do.
I still gave the game a rating of "good", though, because of its strategic features, the fact that the technical aspects which I didn't like can be fixed, and the fact that the game can be modified heavily. In fact I would have given it an "excellent" were it not for the game's departure from the story. Using an editor for .big files, you can edit the ini.big file to change things like health, cost, damage, and command point consumption of units and srtuctures. Reducing the FARM_MONEY_RANGE to 5 from 300 allows the farms to be built close together and still produce resources at 100%, and reducing the wall cost to 0 and the battle tower cost to 150 makes the game much more playable. After these changes and after boosting the damage, health and range of the heroes and archers, gameplay becomes infinitely better and more fun, much more fun than in BFME 1.
So all in all I give this game a "good" rating and I recommend it. BFME 1 is really better for the "feel" of Lord of the Rings and for reliving the battles of the movies (in fact you can only play the Fellowship's journey from Moria to Mordor in BFME 1). But as for versatility, strategic options, challenge, and battle size, BFME 2 comes out on top.Read full review