Online gaming for those fans Tolkein who already have a certain amount of gaming skills and knowledge.
Replicating a vast swathe of Tolkiens Middle-earth, LOTRO offers a rich and beautifully detailed game environment which, its clearly hoped, will give both the legions of Rings fans and the 8 million World of Warcraft players a new place to while away their hours. But while the fidelity to Tolkien lore is faultless and the glorious vistas bring a tear to the eye, the impressive setting for this massively multiplayer Rings translation isnt backed up by ground-breaking gameplay.
For seasoned MMO players theres precious little new here, the usual blend of crafting professions, quests and monster grinding enhanced only by slightly more emphasis on story. More lamentable, though, is that almost no effort has been made to cater for those drawn solely by the license. The lack of a decent tutorial leaves more complex game elements well out of reach for non-gamers, while the any attempt to explore the wilds of Middle-earth at early levels is met with a swift demise. A solid enough game for the initiated, then, but a missed opportunity to reel in the wider Tolkien fanbase.