Hobbits and wizards may soon be as commonplace on the servers of Xbox Live as soldiers, athletes and racecars. The multiplayer aspect of the upcoming real-time strategy sequel The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II could be the best reason to pick up the game and there’s a lot more to it than just throwing a few armies at each other and seeing who bites it first (though that’s fun too – read our impressions of the game’s basic Versus mode here ). Players will also be treated to four additional online modes that transform the match’s rules and force you to mix up your strategy.
Above: If you grow weary of senseless bloodbaths (we realize that's a big "if"), Battle for Middle-earth II has plenty of other multiplayer options to choose from.
King of the Hill, for example, adds a signal fire tower somewhere on the map and awards the game to whoever can gain and then hold control of it the longest. Suddenly, the focus of battle is not on each individual’s fortress, but on a centrally located and hotly contested middle ground. Do you send your quickest unit to scout and grab the tower immediately, or do you spend precious minutes training an army that can hold its ground once there? Either way, with the ability to build base structures anywhere, you’ll have plenty of options for defending or retaking your prize.