Tag Archive: Monolith

The battle for Middle Earth is about to begin

Some of my favorite comics growing up were Marvel’s “What If?”s. These comics would look at how things would change in the universe if one thing in the past turned out differently from what we could consider continuity. And when I started playing Guardians of Middle-Earth, a part of me flashed back to those comics of my youth because the concept of this game is much like those comics. Many of us know, or are at least mildly familiar with, The Lord of the Rings. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t recognize the names Legolas, Gandalf the Grey, Sauron, or Gollum. Well, what if 22 players, some more major than others, from The Lord of the Rings universe were all put onto the battlefield at one time. That’s what you get with Guardians of Middle-Earth.

Aside from the “What If?” scenario, there really isn’t much more to this story as Guardians of Middle-Earth is a MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena). The basic purpose of MOBAs is that you and your teammates must assault enemy towers along three lanes of combat. Each character has their own unique abilities, even with all 22 characters falling into one of five classes (striker, defender, warrior, enchanter, tactician). Being somewhat familiar with some of the characters, like Legolas being an archer, and Gandalf wielding magic, will definitely accelerate your learning curve as you’ll find who fits your play style a little faster, but you don’t need to be familiar with Tolkien’s classic fiction to really embrace a character once you find one in your wheelhouse.

The most impressive thing about this game is that MOBAs are traditionally PC games and yet this is the first game in this genre that has found a way to transition the PC control schemes many MOBA players are used to smoothly over to a console. The transition isn’t completely perfect as there are some minor issues with aiming and just seeing your character when the trenches get full with a few characters from each team and suddenly it seems like fireballs, lightning bolts, and every other matter of magical attack is flying across a small space on your screen. But usually it works itself out rather quickly when someone pays the price. In regards to how it feels though, the game handles smoothly and I found myself losing hours at a time with this game in what felt like a blink of the eye.

Something else that Guardians of Middle-Earth brings to the table besides its controls is that it introduces a new 1-Lane mode. This mode is all about great, fast-paced action where you and your foes will grind the battle out in the trenches and only the team that works the best together and is most familiar with their characters will be able to push the line of conflict.

Along with the 1-Lane mode, there is plenty of Lord of the Rings flavor beyond the characters if that is the primary aspect of this game that is making you curious about downloading it. Once you reach a certain player level, you can start unlocking custom loadout belts that you use by placing a variety of gems in to boost your health, defense, offense, magic, or combination of those. The custom loadouts are great because this can help you master several characters instead of just one or two and gives you something to keep working towards as you move through the levels. Not to mention it can afford you some flexibility if your friends want to throw down in 1-Lane or traditional 3-Lane for a while.

If you aren’t familiar with MOBAs because you are more of a console gamer than a PC gamer, this is a great way to jump into the genre. If you do like MOBAs, you’ll be impressed with how smooth Guardians of Middle-Earth feels on a console. If you like Lord of the Rings, you won’t be able to not try every character and work towards unlocking them all. All in all, I was blown away by how much fun I had with this game and it is definitely worth its $15 (1200 MSP) price tag.

SUMMARY:  Easily as deep and addicting a MOBA as you’d find on the PC, Guardians of Middle-Earth should appeal to newcomers and veterans of the genre alike. Add in the Lord of the Rings flair and this should be money well spent for most gamers.

  • THE GOOD: Sets a high standard for future MOBAs on consoles
  • THE BAD: Sometimes difficult to tell just where you are when the action gets overly frantic
  • THE UGLY: Gollum. Always Gollum.

SCORE: 9.0

Guardians of Middle-Earth is available on PS3 (PSN) and Xbox 360 (XBLA). Primary version reviewed was for XBLA. 

THE BUZZ: Monolith Productions has announced the first DLC for their new downloadable online versus multiplayer shooter, Gotham City Impostors, will hit sometime in March for the whopping price of FREE.

EGM’S TAKE: A note I made in my review of Gotham City Impostors, which you can see HERE, was that Monolith needs to continue to support this game and that a major knock was the lack of maps. Well, this free DLC shows they are both committed to this game and also fleshes out your map choices.

The DLC will contain a new map set on the 25th floor of the Gotham Times. Along with this will be two new weapons in The Falcon Blade, a bullet deflecting katana, and the Kingmaker, a quick-draw pistol. I only hope that the pistol is three-feet long like the one Jack Nicholson used to take down the Batwing in the first Michael Keaton Batman movie. That would be awesome and fit in with the humor of the game I think.

Along with this is a bevy of costume choice additions, a new “Fun Fact” perk where you can capture Gasblasters in Fumigation or attach batteries in Psychological Warfare faster, and a new gadget in Toxic Gas that will obviously harm anyone who walks into it.

The biggest part of the DLC though might be the ability to join matches in progress now and some matchmaking tweaks that could help get you into the game faster .

What do you folks think of this? A free map, new perks and weapons, and some matchmaking tweaks. If you haven’t bought Gotham City Impostors yet, will this help sway you? What iconic places in Gotham should Monolith look into digitizing in the future? Let us know your thoughts below!

I’m Batman…and so are you

Loosely based off DC Comics’ Detective Comics #867-870, Gotham City Impostors thrusts you into a Gotham gone mad where the majority of the populous has either taken up the mantle of Gotham’s Guardian, Batman, or the constant acid-dipped thorn in his side, the Joker, and you have decided to join in on the chaos. But, even if you’re not familiar with that story arc, you’re still likely to have a lot of fun as this online versus multiplayer shooter has had so much comic-book infused personality injected into it that it has the potential to become as addictive and as popular as games like Team Fortress.

Now many of you out there are probably wondering how guns and Batman would work, but Monolith brilliantly also inserted an “Initiation” mission that will allow you to not only get used to the smooth controls should you choose to play it (as well as it unlocks an achievement), but also explains why the Batz and Jokerz use the weapons that they do. Quite simply, Joe the Plumber doesn’t have the bank that Bruce Wayne has to use the moral high ground of non-lethal weapons. Whereas a PVC Pipe Rocket Launcher sounds a lot more pliable for Joe. And for those slow times when there may not be as many people online, the game also features a single-player Challenges mode that allows players to really hone their skills with their various weapons and tools before jumping right into the fray and for which they can earn extra experience to level up with.

The meat of the game though revolves around the online play. Much like any other online versus multiplayer out there, you gain experience for winning matches and performing a variety of kills out on the field and when you gain experience, you unlock new customization features, weapons, and accessories. Some of the best stuff can be a bit of a grind weapons-wise, but should you feel more inclined to drop some extra cash, you can perform some micro-transactions for different costume items should making your Batz or Jokerz look just the way you want be a priority as well. Same goes for your “Calling Card”, the custom image your foes see when you kill them along with a taunting one-liner. You can buy backgrounds inspired by the comic work of artists like Jim Lee or more cartoony versions of some already available backgrounds to truly bring your unique style to the game.

You can also customize a load out and this is where the game starts to differentiate itself really. You have an assortment of guns and pistols with Batman and Joker style ornaments, but the gadgets are unlike anything seen before in this genre. Glider kits allow you to hover after jumping off high points or ride up open ventilation shafts and then dive bomb onto unsuspecting foes and your grappling hook can have you racing across an entire level in no time if you get the right vantage point. Roller skates give you a huge speed boost and let you trick off ramps and spring boots give you twice as much jumping power.

All this flair and polish though can also be seen as a distraction from some of the game’s flaws. Although the levels are very well designed and offer some frantic action, there are only five of them and so it can get repetitive at times knowing you’ll end up at only one of five locations, even if they are some of Gotham’s most iconic in Ace Chemical, Amusement Mile, Crime Alley, Gotham Power, and The Docks.

There are also only three play modes once you go online. First, there is your standard Team Deathmatch with up to six people on a team. Then, there is a mode called Fumigation, which is basically like Capture the Point. You and your team must try to control three special gas emitters and the person who pollutes the atmosphere 100% with their special concoction first wins the match. The final mode is Psychological Warfare and is very much like Capture the Flag. You’re objective is to take a randomly spawned car battery and attached it to a bevy of speakers that will pump negative propaganda into the brains of your enemies. This will render them unable to use their weapons for 30 seconds and the team who can trigger the propaganda the most in a time-limit wins.

So, when you strip away the fancy gadgets and customization features, the game is your standard run-of-the-mill online versus multiplayer shooter, but it handles so well and looks good enough that if you are a fan of the genre then the Batman flair gives you just enough of a difference from the standard fare for these kinds of games to be enjoyable and worth going back to should Monolith continue to support it down the line with some new maps and modes.

SUMMARY: Gotham City Impostors looks and feels great and adds just enough personality to differentiate it from the crowd of similar online multiplayer games.

  • THE GOOD: Looks and feels great and is on par with most online versus shooter multiplayers out there
  • THE BAD: Lack of maps and modes can shorten the experience
  • THE UGLY: Fat guy in a little Joker-coat

SCORE: 8.0

Gotham City Impostors is available on Xbox 360 (XBLA) and PS3 (PSN). Primary version reviewed was on Xbox 360.