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Visiting Middle Earth

22 April, 2007

Since last fall, I’ve been playing the beta test for Lord of the Rings Online. As a diehard Tolkien fan, this is an experience I’ve been looking forward to for years, since even before Sierra first announced Middle Earth Online back in the ’90s (which was later canned, and the idea lay dormant for years). It’s kind of a no-brainer, really… if it’s done right, a computer game that recreates the expanses of Middle Earth could seriously rock. And I have to say that in terms of recreating Tolkien’s vision, they’ve done a fine job.

The landscapes are beautiful, and really capture the ruggedness and and scale I imagined from reading the books. I’ve been to the Blue Mountains, and into the Halls of Thorin. I’ve travelled through the Shire, and had a pint in the Green Dragon Inn. I’ve crept through the Old Forest (dark, creepy and mazelike) and even found Tom Bombadil’s house. I’ve been to Bree and the Barrow Downs (no place for a picnic), and there’s still much more that I haven’t seen yet. Weathertop lies further east, and beyond that the Trollshaws, Rivendell, and the Misty Mountains.

LOTRO1

According to the Bartle Test, I’m an Explorer, and I agree with that assessment. In MMOs like this, I love heading out in to the wilderness by myself and seeing how far I can go, and what I can find. Often I’ll stumble on things like a ruined tower, or a log cabin with a trader who’ll sell me more arrows, places that perhaps few others see. So now I’m thrilled with the opportunity to explore Middle Earth. Turbine hasn’t made the whole of Tolkien’s world yet – so far only Eriador is done, but over time they will add more areas and eventually fill out the whole map with places like Rohan, Mirkwood, Gondor and even the very depths of Mordor. Where, I’m told, the shadows lie.

LOTRO2

(The screenshots aren’t mine, I just linked them from the LotRO website.)

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