Ever since Frodo Baggins was lucky enough to inherit a cursed piece of jewelry, The Lord of the Rings has been the finest material for video game adaptations. Most of these games are based on the Peter Jackson-directed trilogy of films, with The Hobbit prequels also getting time to shine on different platforms. Some of these games were great tie-ins to great movies, others were about as fun as catch with a nazgul.
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But in the fires of Mount GameSpot we’ve found the best Lord of the Rings games. These are our picks for the 10 most preciousness Games of Middle-earth. We think all of this is still worth playing today, but there were definitely some clunkers in the Lord of the Rings franchise. We hope The Lord of the Rings: Gollum will be good enough to join this list when it releases in September.
1. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
The third was allure as Return of the King struck the perfect balance of action, adventure and cutting edge graphics for its time. With some decent star power thrown into the mix – yes, that’s Sir Ian McKellen voicing Gandalf – Return of the King helped launch the LOTR film and video game trilogy in 2003 to end with a gigantic bang.
Read our review of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
2. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers
The connection gameplay of The Fellowship of the Ring was mostly considered mediocre, but for the sequel, The Two Towers massively improved on its predecessor to create a more enjoyable journey. It wasn’t perfect, but a competent combat system, great voice acting, and stunning graphics made the middle child of the LOTR saga surprisingly memorable.
Read our review of The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers.
3. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
An original story set in the wastelands of Middle-earth. Shadow of Mordor’s claim to fame was its brilliant Nemesis system, which created a dynamic, decision-based system that transformed the world around you based on your actions. Combat was great, bending wild beasts to your will so you could have an army ready was great, and pursuing an orc that was a thorn in your side made Monolith’s first foray into Tolkien’s territory an instant classic.
Read our review of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor.
4. Lego Lord of the Rings
There are three constants in life: taxes, death, and Lego, which transforms a movie property into a whimsical game with tons of brick-busting action. Lego Lord of the Rings didn’t stray from its winning formula, as this adaptation kept the beats of the film’s plot intact and added a healthy layer of goofy charm to the Fellowship’s adventures.
Read our Lego Lord of the Rings review.
5. The Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle-earth
Whether it was the Battle of Helm’s Deep or the Clash at Pellenor Fields, Lord of the Rings has always had some of the best large-scale warfare that called for a real-time strategy twist. Battle for Middle-earth largely succeeded in bringing these conflicts to life with systems and ideas that would later be used in its sequel.
Read our Battle for Middle-earth review.
6. The Lord of the Rings Online
At a time when MMOs were more popular and diverse than ever, it was only logical that Lord of the Rings would join this scene. Rewarding in the character development department and absolutely gorgeous in the number of locations that could be visited, LOTR Online has created a magical experience for fans who have logged onto the Middle-earth servers. 15 years later, LOTR Online still has an accurate title as it can still be played online.
Read our Lord of the Rings online review.
7. Middle-earth: Shadow of War
While Shadow of Mordor was a tight and compact sandbox, Shadow of War presented a much larger and epic world to explore while expanding on everything that made the original game so popular. The Nemesis system made your personal antagonist deadlier than ever, the combat was elegant, and the ability to wage a full-scale war while expanding your territory added some interesting folds to the gameplay loop.
Read our review of Middle-earth: Shadow of War.
8. The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age
What if Final Fantasy X got a Lord of the Rings makeover? You’d get The Third Age, a fun and competent 2004 RPG. A loose adaptation of the film trilogy, The Third Age looked great and acted as an entry-level RPG that younger fans of the films could easily dive into.
Read our review of Lord of the Rings: The Third Age.
9. Lego The Hobbit
A compilation of the first two Hobbit films, this Lego game pretty much stuck to its strengths. It was silly, charming, and aimed squarely at kids and fans who appreciate the slapstick take on beloved Lord of the Rings characters.
Read our review of Lego: The Hobbit.
10. The Lord of the Rings: War in the North
While Lord of the Rings was gearing up for a return to cinemas with the 2012 adaptation of The Hobbit, War in the North capitalized on that enthusiasm to create an original Middle-earth story. A dependable adventure, War in the North might not have been game of the year material, but its rock-solid combat, polished controls, and surprisingly great co-op made it a treat for a few weekends.
Read our review of The Lord of the Rings: War in the North.
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