This game is not at all what I expected. But that is because I, quite literally, did not know what to expect. I bought this game blind because I saw that Snowblind made it and they made Champions of Norrath which I loved immensely. I'm not a huge fan of Lord of the Rings, but damn if I am not a fan of good ol hack and slash games with character classes and all that nonsense.
I'm not terribly far in the game yet, but so far I have to say that LOTR: WiN is pretty damn fun. But it is not fun for everyone. If you enjoy hack and slash games (think of a toned down Dynasty Warriors or something) with a heavy emphasis on loot well you'd do well to check this game out. You are constantly getting loot in this game and you are constantly being attacked by various enemies from the Tolkeinverse. At times the amount of dudes you have to slaughter to advance seems fucking insane. Early on you enter a sewer-like area and to advance you have to kill around fifty or so Goblins. They go down quickly, but it is still a LOT of dudes to mow down for the first level of the game.
The combat is fairly simple. X does your regular attack and Y does your heavy attack. However, if you attack a dude enough there will be an icon over his head. If you press Y you will do a Critical Strike. More often than not this will zoom in on your character cutting off a limb and blood going everywhere. Sometimes it will just knock a dude down where you can ground stab him. The game certainly earns its M rating with how often orc arms and heads are being lopped off. In addition to melee combat there is ranged. The Ranger has arrows, the Dwarf has a crossbow, and the Elf has magic bolts. Ranged combat turns the game into a really crappy third person shooter and I don't like it so I don't really use ranged combat.
I've only spent time with the elf so I can't comment on the abilities of the other characters, but the elf has three tech trees. One has to do with support, one with magic based abilities, and one buffs. I am speccing more towards offense because I like cutting dudes with my mage staff. Abilities work like they would in any other game. You have a meter, you use abilities, meter runs out, you refill meter with potions. The best ability by far is the ability to summon a giant eagle to fight dudes for you. Yeah, fuck that Gandalf guy, these dudes can summon a giant talking eagle whenever the fuck they want.
The biggest surprise to me was that this game has dialog wheels. It literally has the Mass Effect wheel complete with INVESTIGATE on the left hand side of the wheel. The dialog system is in no way comparable to Mass Effect, but it is still pretty cool and better than the dialog system in, say, X Men Destiny.
I'm rather enjoying this game so far. So much so that my biggest complaint is that there is no run button and so I find myself rolling all the time because the move speed is so slow.
If you're a fan of loot-based hack and slash games, Snowblind, or Lord of the Rings, you should probably check this game out. It may surprise you.