Starting off with the g raphics, as explained above, the game seems to start you off with the lowest settings, which in return makes the game look like utter crap. Once I realised the graphics were on the lowest settings I r aised them and was amazed at how well done it was, it gives you a good feeling of being in the lord of the ring movie, the sky, weather, water effects, day/night changes, were all truly enjoyable to say the least. I give it a 4.5 out of 5.
Moving on to the sounds, the sounds to me weren't all that great, and it seems like they didn't add to many nature sound effects, so when you are running around in the woods it all pretty much sounds the same, doesn't give you a feel like you are in any different area than you were before, the same goes for being in city's or a crowded Inn. I give the sounds a 1.5 out of 5.
As for the game play, this is where I have to give them credit. My first thought was "Jesus this feels an awful lot like World of Warcraft". There seems to be alot of things (if not most) taken from World of Warcraft. From how you actually enter the world at the character selection screen, all the way down to how the auction house system works with the mail, the way your specials regenerate, and how they are placed on the quick bar. It seems like they took alot of WoW's system and tweaked it. Cant say that's a bad thing, since WoW has a huge fan base for a reason, playing WoW my self I have to admit that it is enjoyable to a certain point.
Now, on a more positive note LOTRO has a really good quest system, the quests are set up from easy to hard depending on the color of the quest. One thing I enjoyed alot about the quests is how different they all are from each other. This is one of the only MMORPG's I've played that actually gave me much of a challenge in quests. Compared to some of the other games time consuming or zerging type of quests, this is by far the best in my opinion. I am not much of a PvM'er but this is the only real feature of the game that has kept me interested, although they do have PvP, which is the next topic.
PvP'ing in LOTRO is pretty much like WoW, in the form that you get to ask people to duel. The major difference is that it is called 'sparring' not 'pvping'. You get to ask someone for a duel, anywhere outside of the major city's. I found it very fun, and playing as a healer class I did very well even against the tanks and damage dealers, the game seems to be pretty well balanced, though I have not played all of the classes to be able to judge this correctly. There is another PvP feature called 'Monster Play" where you can find at some of the major city's like Bree-Town. Basically you go into a portal that places you in a monsters world, that has quests inside of it and you can 'spar' anyone you want in there by asking them, you can also purchase special buffs with destiny points that you gain by leveling after level 10 and up. You get to choose between 5 monsters that come pre leveled to the max level of 50. I tried it for about 20 minutes before I got bored with it, personally I rather "spar" on the character I have been leveling up my self. The only bad thing about that is dying in a spar seems to hurt your armor alot and you will need to repair it. All in all the pvp is enjoyable though not a huge part of the game its still something you can do when you are tired of questing/grinding. I give the PvP a 3 out of 5.
All in all, this game is a 4 in my book and its definately worth trying, if I wasnt waiting for AoC, and beta wasnt so close, i'd have purchased it for the time being. Those of you who have not tried it, its currently in open beta since April 6th, and closes on April 24th, so you have another 11 days to try it out.
With that said, here is a PvMP video: