The Lord of the Rings: Middle-earth Defense Review

By , on November 19, 2010

The Lord of the Rings: Middle-earth Defense
Download on the AppStore
3 out of 5


  • Unique approach to meshing TLOTR with TD gameplay.
  • Detailed and cleverly rendered key areas.


  • Poor unit selection for special attacks.
  • Low frame-rates.
  • Poor audio quality.


Despite a fast update to enable full iDevice support, The Lord of the Rings: Middle-earth Defense still lacks in a few key areas, obscuring an otherwise competent tower-defense title.

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So how does one actually go about making a tower-defense game out of The Lord of the Rings franchise? While there are moments in which a traditional TD could work, extending it to the whole story would seem out of place. But unsurprisingly, Glu have considered this obvious hiccup and the solution was an altogether elegant one: Why not make the heroes of the story in to towers?

Instead of literal towers, each hero and incidental character is turned in to an attacking unit that has a limited range; walking to meet the enemies directly if they use melee attacks or shooting from afar if they are ranged. To even the odds players can place obstacles in the paths of the incoming waves, redirecting them to choke-points or areas being covered by your units and super-abilities can be unlocked for each hero to turn the tide despite your inferior numbers. Cash earned can be spent on either adding more characters from the story or upgrading the abilities of each unit.

Each area of the game is cleverly designed to not only replicate areas depicted in key story points, but also to provide strategic advantages and disadvantages that need to be covered by the units on hand. While the Retina display is supported, it only really serves to sharpen the simplistic models and textures used in the game and despite the small amount of units on screen the frame-rate was inconsistent and only worsened by the need to speed up the game at points.

Outside of these performance issues, Middle-earth Defense is a surprisingly apt adaption of The Lord of the Rings in to a tower-defense title and only other niggling problems such as needing to manually target heroes to activate abilities hamper the game. Worth checking out if you can stomach the premium pricing.


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rekz 10 years, 6 months ago

Andrew, again, I'm going to strongly disagree with your review.  While this may not be a 5-star game, it definitely deserves 4 stars.  I've played thru level 18, got it for $1 (lucked out & it's on sale right now so grab it), and this game is *VERY GOOD* with lots of replay value.
It has Tower Defense elements, and Lord of the Ring elements, and the game isn't particularly boring until ~ lvl 18 there's a level with only Ents which feels dull b/c there's 35+ waves.  But this is not a bad game at all -- I suggest you consider changing your review to 4 stars.

andrew 10 years, 6 months ago

At the time of the review the game was performing horrendously and encounters were extremely dull as you basically 'win' the level within the first few waves by correctly positioning your units with the correct upgrades, making subsequent waves more about keeping on top of your active abilities than doing anything particularly useful. It's a fun game, don't get me wrong and updates may have smoothed out the gameplay quite a bit, but the 3.4 was very deserved at the time :)