Turbine's upcoming Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar will usher gamers into a massively multiplayer online version of Tolkien's fantasy universe. I got to play some of the still-beta game at a recent media event; the title's setting and story will be its main selling point, otherwise it resembles other MMOs -- not to say that's a bad thing.
It takes a little work to learn an MMO, and Turbine said the company isn't trying to change Lord of the Rings just to be different. Instead, game controls and quest system felt like other titles, and I was killing defenseless forest creatures right away. Lord of the Rings also looked like other MMOs; what I saw didn't set any new standards, but it matched competitors. I was told that game art and other assets were still being updated for the Spring, 2007 launch.
Lord of the Rings Online's story-driven approach and setting should be unique. The game is based on the original three books and The Hobbit, not the recent movie properties. So while the game looks similar to the movies -- hobbit houses have round doors and passages, and Gandalf looks like Ian McKellen -- Turbine says that's because the game matches the original, detailed prose.