The LotR game is a tribute to the way traditional games should be; this is a quality item with high production values and a feel that's second to none. The playing boards (there are several them) are made of thick card so they won't bend easily and the playing pieces and cards included in the game box help establish an atmosphere before play begins.
If there is a criticism of this game it's in the structure of the rules. There are two rule booklets, one presenting the quick-start guide, the other a more in-depth step-by-step look at how to handle the action. The quick-start rules are a little too brief to simply pick up and play from the start, while the in-depth rules take some wading through to get the gist of what it's all about.
Stick with it though and what you have is a game which will entertain hardened fans and family gamers alike. The cooperative nature of the experience provides a different dynamic from games which encourage a competitive race to the finish and to do well in Lord of the Rings it's essential to play together--individuals won't get very far.
No LotR game would be complete without its villain and the aura of Sauron hangs heavy over the gaming party. Actions taken by the band of hobbits and events around them extend the reach of evil which can overtake the players (finishing the game) or merely chase them right through to the final duel at Mount Doom--stirring stuff indeed.
The Lord of the Rings board game isn't going to change the gaming world, but it is a beautifully produced game and reasonably accessible to all those interested in playing. --Chris Russell