Tolkien is one of my favorite writers and The Lord of the Rings movies are by far some most enjoyable adaptations I’ve ever seen. Several of The Lord of the Rings games were good and offered great gameplay that brought you into the experience of movies. With The Hobbit being released next month more games are already being released looking to capture this new experience.
The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-Earth captures a different kind of experience than the book or the movie. This simple MMO mobile, free-to-play, strategy game is nothing special or new to the MMO strategy genre, but it still manages to suck you in even with the usual strategy formula.
Made by Kabam! Entertainment the games formula follows closely with MMO strategy games like Stronghold: Kingdoms. You can choose between running a dwarven or elven kingdom.
The map is layered into three different map types. There is a city layer, a resource field and a world map. Each layer can be flipped by simply pressing a map symbol in the lower left corner of the screen making quick action in emergencies manageable.
Collecting resources is also a fairly easy process and there is no need to worry about resources being exhausted unless from frequent enemy attacks. All resource buildings generate resources on an hourly basis.
In addition to your standard resources of food, ore, stone, wood and gold, there is also mithril. Mithril can’t be mined, but are purchased through actual cash, as is the usual catch with free-to-play games. This can be a problem for those with small wallets as mithril allows you to speed up research, troop training and movement. If you don’t have the money you won’t be able to move quickly and build up your city or army. This will make you a target to anybody nearby who has the money to build up power much more quickly.
A chance game allows you to earn bonuses to protect yourself. Daily you’ll be given a token to play the game and for most people this is the only method of keeping themselves alive from tougher players or barely surviving for that matter.
City building makes the game. Building up your mini empire is easy and accessible. The city and resource maps offer a set amount of squares you can build homes, barracks, forges and any other staple building in strategy games.
The game isn’t visually spectacular, but each of them maps feature as much detail as you would expect for a mobile or tablet game. Your city’s appearance will be displayed differently depending on whether you’ve chosen to be elven or dwarven. Dwarven cities are carved into the sides of mountains and elven cities are set in beautiful woods. Like I said, it’s eye catching, but typical in regards to what a tablet can do.
Combat works by simply sending off troops to nearby locations on the world map. There’s no cinematic scene or the ability to watch your troops play the battle out in real time. Seeing an animation would give a little more excitement to the act, but still being able muster troops and sending them out to invade, creates enough joy for any MMO strategy fan.
The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-Earth provides a decent strategy experience. While the game provides fun city building and free gameplay, but the mithril system they use can cause players to be either overpowering or extremely under powered players. Unfortunately, this creates one-sided wars and unfair conditions. If you like the brutality of MMO strategy games this game is worth checking out, but if you have trouble keeping up with these types of war games it’s a good idea to avoid this title.