One does not simply make a MOBA…
Guardians of Middle-earth is Monolith’s take on a console MOBA set in the Lord of the Rings universe, it’s a strange concept to be sure but is it the one MOBA to rule them all?
For those unfamiliar with what a MOBA is, essentially it’s 5 v 5 online matches where you capture and protect your bases from each other, as you would expect you can play as the likes of Gandalf, Gollum and Sauron to name a few, plus DLC is adding new characters like Thorin Oakshield and the Great Goblin. Making the transition to consoles with the MOBA concept is a little awkward, but the controls are well done for the most part.
Essentially you use the analogue sticks to move and direct your cone of vision for attacks, while spells and the like are confined to the ring that covers your character. The problem with this is that when there are a group of characters fighting, its hard to see where your reticule is aimed at as it blends in with the action on-screen and those of other characters. It’s unfortunate to say the least, but at its heart it’s a solid concept and one that oddly fits Tolkien’s universe.
I can’t claim to be a huge fan of MOBA type games, and I’m a little surprised that Warner Bros didn’t release a true Hobbit game to coincide with “An Unexpected Journey”, although I wouldn’t be surprised if TT Games brought out Lego Hobbit after the 3 films have been released. You can choose your own layouts to go into battle with, but everyone is put on a even playing field when the match begins, which is good in one way but gives little incentive to repeat play as you can’t get great perks that give you an advantage.
Visually, the game has its good and bad points, the levels look decent but the character models are fairly average. The framerate is consistent for the most part, although the matches do have connection issues at the moment. The music is great as you would expect from a LOTR game and the sound effects aren’t too bad either.
So it may not be the most exciting game out there, but for MOBA fans wanting a console addition you can’t do much better than Guardians of Middle-earth at the moment. It’s a step in the right direction for the genre on consoles and what better way to make that step than with Gandalf casting spells at Sauron?