Riders of Rohan is a strategy game with arcade action sequences and a great premise. Unfortunately, the game doesn't deliver satisfactorily in any of those areas. For most fans of the genre, not only will the plot be too localized but the movement, accomplishments and victory conditions will be far too restrictive. Unless you're a fan of Tolkien's Middle Earth saga, you'll no doubt find yourself lost and confused about who all these little tiny characters on your screen are and what's expected of them. In fact, that's one of the problems. You're fairly limited in the control of your characters as they all have specific agendas and they'd better toe the line or you won't get much out of them. The game is very structured with specific win conditions which seem trivial and contrived and somewhat open-ended (like, have as many troops survive this battle so they can face the real war that's about to happen which isn't even part of this game). Because of the restrictive nature of the plot, your strategic decisions are at times dictated by circumstance rather than good thinking. Your troops will almost always be outnumbered and control of the arcade/battle sequences are frustrating. During a battle, when time is of the essence since Riders of Rohan combat is done in real time, you'll have to repeatedly click on each minuscule trooper (if you can locate him quickly enough) to give him orders and to watch his progress. Each click brings up a command menu and only through repeatedly accessing this can you eventually get your troops to carry out your battle plan. Fortunately, the game designers thoughtfully included an automatic computer managed quick battle option which relieves some of the tedious hands-on activity. If the action wasn't already dictated enough, at times you'll find your troop leader engaged in some meaningless "jousting" with the opposing force's leader just before a major battle. This weird occurrence is a battle to the death with the loser's forces being hampered by bad morale in the ensuing battle. No kidding. (Can you see sending Lee to fight Grant in a one on one duel to the death before the Civil War?).
The visual look of the game is very drab and the graphics are dreary, simple and plain. They usually look like a paint by numbers canvas where the painter isn't too keen on staying within the lines. The artwork isn't particularly inspiring and the interface can be graciously labeled workable, most of the time. You'll have to practice a great deal to master the arcade sequences that require archery skills. This is made possible through the inclusion of a very useful practice mode, one of the better design ideas. But no matter how much you practice, the realization will soon set in that "Hey, I've played this battle before". The battles look alike and most of the time the events that cause battle to occur are just too similar and the repetition becomes annoying. You'd be better off reading the books.
Graphics: Bland and uninspiring.
Sound: Limited and shallow.
Enjoyment: Most enjoyment came from reading the History of Middle Earth segment of the manual.
Replay Value: Tough enough playing it once or twice.
Another J.R.R. Tolkien based game, but specifically focused on the Two Towers story, starting right before the siege of Helm's Keep: the battle between the defending forces of Rohan and the attacking legions of the evil wizard Saruman. The game introduces a similiar style of play as War in Middle Earth, that is a macro-world map point of view which operates battles and movement of mass armies, and there's a micro point of view, a more 'action' approach where the original characters of the Fellowship can battle enemies at a smaller scale: Shoot orcs from a ranged distance, fight them melee in an arcade fighting style or challenge them in a duel of magic.
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