From the opening to the final boss my only complaint is the length and that's only because I could have played this game forever. Please take a look, regardless of GI's review. I have placed a lot of faith in GI until lately where they have really missed the mark on more than a few games reviews. I'll do my best to give accurate portrayals to balance their narrow vision. 

This adventure across Middle Earth is made by a typical Tri-force group of 3. A Ranger (warrior/rogue/ranged), A Dwarf (warrior/tank) and an Elf (healer). The groups quest takes place across the North lands of Middle Earth at the same time as Frodo's quest and for much of the story you run across characters either in the fellowship as in Rivendell or many places and characters the fellowship has passed. It's true you never get to know the characters you play but there are an abundance of characters and lore in the game that does an excellent job of coming through and really creating a feel of knowing this world and the people in it. A lot of the lore is offered through optional conversational prompts. As someone who has never had time to read the original trilogy I was given a plethora of information regarding the back stories of places and characters enough to inspire me to speak to the same characters multiple times sometimes for 10 minutes or more each just to hear the great stories that were all recorded and voiced.  

I played as Farin the dwarf through a single player campaign with my AI brethren. Right from the start you are thrown in to fantastically recreated areas that mirror the Peter Jackson films and in the areas not featured in the films you are convinced it's what they would have looked like if they were. The map is speckled with around 50 dots pointing out many of the famous locations in the lore of the world. Every area of the map is broken up in to different areas by magical transparent gates sometimes offering a store to buy and sell gear and the option to return a previously visited town to repair gear or turn in side quests before continuing forward. If you do chose to return to a previous area you can visit another transparent gate in that area to be brought back to exactly where you left off in the main quest so no time is lost. Each area you visit also has multiple graphical styles from mountains to caves to buildings, villages swamps and fortresses. Each of the characters has a special ability to unlock or open hidden areas across the levels that neither of the other characters can see. While better off for the multiplayer side of things all secrets can be unlocked by playing the single player game with all of the characters. The hidden area's contain gold chests with loot specific to the character that accesses it.  

The general gear drops are often and there are some really great pieces dropped throughout to make you feel a huge impact on the combat but never enough to make the combat easy or boring. I was really excited by the gear in this game although I was disappointed by the lack of elf stones or runes to be slotted in the gear or weapons. The can be said about the gear as can be said about the perks chosen for each level, all were felt and increased the fun but none made the game easy, just much more fulfilling. As far as balancing the combat through my progression and gear increases this game was the best I have ever played. I was loving it from the first swing and with each swing it got better even when I thought it couldn't  right up until the final fight where I felt like a warrior myself and I am already a Disabled Combat Veteran. The enemies are as varied and different as the multitude of graphical styles of the areas I encountered that offered all sorts of variation in tactics to keep me on my toes but never becoming overwhelming or boring.

The only downside was that I wasn't able to visit every dot on the map, even though some were quest hubs with shops and smiths for repairs with characters from the story and some were playable with multiple levels of different areas within and some were even horde mode style challenge maps that were never part of the story but always available to be visited to mix things up or to add a little XP and loot for tougher times in the campaign (I went through without visiting them until the end). I wanted to see them all and was disappointed as I realized I wasn't going to be able to. All in all this was a great experience and I am planning a journey with all the characters to find all the secrets and so I can equip some of the incredible gear I came across that I was unable to use with my previous class.

I would recommend this to anyone who is a fan of either the genre of Fantasy Fiction or of Action or RPG games, to be a fan of more than one or all it's hard to imagine how you could not enjoy this game.