Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth II

Lord of the Rings may have exited stage left from theaters, but it’ll be playing on PC screens for as long as Electronic Arts can wield the license. The second installment of the Battle for Middle Earth strategy series promises more violent slaughter and more flexibility ... and a lot more to sink your axe into.

Gamers can rejoice in a variety of new playable races, including dwarves, elves, and goblins, the latter have a perverse love of riding giant spiders and scorpions. The battlefield expands this time to include the oceans, so prepare yourself for massive naval battles, too.

Players define their armies by designing a hero on which in-game avatars are based, giving your army a look all its own. But beyond the creation of your scrappy rabble, BME2 invites players to construct a landmark castle out of prefabricated chunks of fortresses and walls that can be upgraded and built out over time. Introducing a feature called "build anywhere," BME2 takes terrain into account when erecting bases, adding depth of strategy to the placement of castle walls and eliminating the issues of claustrophobic design from the first game. Where the first game offered only cookie-cutter palaces and boring ballista emplacements, BME2 gives you the tactical flexibility to place your strongholds wherever you see fit.