Still, the game's most welcome innovation might be a workable control scheme for a console RTS. Translating the intuitive and familiar PC combination of mouse and keyboard to the 360 controller is no easy feat, but BFME II makes a heroic effort. With easy click-and-drag less of an option here, various selective powers have been programmed to not only the face buttons, but also the shoulder buttons, trigger buttons and d-pad. Once you've memorized the correct combinations - and, to be honest, that does take awhile - you'll be able to quickly separate archers from cavalry and builders from heroes. There's even a Bookmarks system to keep track of your favorite groupings.

Clearly, BFME II aspires to being more than just another faithful recreation of the LOTR universe. Based on what we've played so far, it could be one of the most intelligent and open-ended console RTS's as well. We'll have a full review in a few days but, until then, check out the new screens under the Images tab.