TL;DR is at the bottom of the review for all of you who didn't want to read the whole thing! It's been 350 hours as of this writing and my main character has hit the level cap of 100, quested through almost all levelling zones, participated in raids, instances, big battles, is a guilded tailor, and has been a long-standing member of a kinship (known as a guild in other MMOs), in addition to a whole host of other things. So, needless to say, I think I'm finally qualified to write a proper review of this game. Even though this review will get buried under the hundreds of other reviews listed for The Lord of the Rings Online (or LOTRO, from here on out), I still felt like it was important to write a review for this game because I feel as though it is a vastly underrated MMORPG. There is so much to love about this amazing game but people often dismiss it in their early minutes of playing because of its appearance or other factors, and I think that this game deserves so much more than that. I want to try to keep this review short (which will be difficult because LOTRO is an enormous game, so there is a LOT to cover if I really wanted to touch on everything), but do keep in mind that from hundreds of hours of playing I have a lot to say and am strongly opinionated on some things, so I won't shy away from going in-depth when I need to. PROS: (+) - GAME WORLD: This point, right here, is what really makes this game so magnificent for me. I've got to hand it to the devs at Turbine, because you can tell right away from your first moments in Middle Earth that there was some SERIOUS time and effort put into studying and implementing Tolkien's visions from the famous Lord of the Rings series into a vibrant game world. The scale of the game itself is incorrect (if it were correct then the game would be terrible, because crossing the map would take forever), but what IS mostly correct is the geography and topography of Middle Earth in video game form. From the icy peaks of Wildermore to the lush and colorful forests of Lothlorien; every zone is intricately crafted to match the descriptions found in Tolkien's masterworks, not only so that the areas are accurate, but also so that they are absolutely beautiful and lively to play in. (+) - SIZE AND SCOPE: I mentioned earlier that LOTRO's scale is largely inaccurate, but Middle Earth is still ENORMOUS. Seriously, it's hard to understate this. I've played open-world games like Fallout 3 and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and LOTRO puts their game world sizes to shame. This, in turn, makes the game so much more immersive and memorable because there are just so many areas in the game, each with their own unique aspects and characteristics. (+) - ART STYLE: The devs at Turbine decided to adapt a more realistic graphical and artistic style, and in my opinion it really paid off. I will touch more on graphics in the "cons", but one thing that newer players to the game have to realize when playing LOTRO is that much of Middle Earth's charm isn't found in the textures and pretty effects, but rather in the creative and artistic direction that it aims to portray. LOTRO is such a beautiful game, and you can really tell throughout all of its scenery. It's difficult to talk about art direction for very long because everyone has their different interpretations on artistic superiority in video games, but in my eyes, LOTRO's art style should really be appreciated because it makes the game world stand out from many of today's newer MMORPGs. (+) - SOUNDTRACK: Another feature that makes LOTRO such an immersive game is its epic soundtrack. There's a wide variety of songs here (like, hundreds of themes), and each compliments their respective regions fittingly. Although I can't describe in detail what the music is like because I feel as though players will get a better handle of it by playing the game themselves, but I feel like the music is not only strong and melodic but also very atmospheric, which develops an even higher quality gaming experience throughout LOTRO's Middle Earth. (+) - COMMUNITY: LOTRO has, by far, the best online community I have ever experienced in ANY multiplayer video game. As a League of Legends player who constantly encounters toxic, rude, and straight up disrespectful players, I was very pleasantly surprised to see that LOTRO has a welcoming and kind community of many different members. I'm currently in a closely knit kinship with many different members that always speak to each other and take pleasure and helping each other out with the game. The thing is, it's not just my kinship! Among the ten servers, there are many awesome kins that are not only helpful but also very friendly, which just serves as a testament to why LOTRO is such a joy to play with others. CONS: (-) - PAYMENT MODEL: LOTRO's payment model remains to be my single biggest problem with the game and it's structure. I don't want to go too far in-depth because the model present here can be very confusing, but essentially, LOTRO is free up until you hit about level 30. After that point, you have two choices: you can either cough up some money (in some cases it can be quite a lot, I paid about $80 to unlock all of the game's questing and expansion packs), OR you can grind yourself into misery and depression as you do a bunch of boring tasks called "deeds" which range from "Kill 360 of these monsters which you can only find in one concentrated area!" to "Run throughout an area and try to find specific locations!" The problem is, even these tasks aren't unlimited, so you can only do so many until you run out and you can't earn any more premium currency. Don't be confused, this doesn't mean that LOTRO is "pay to win," as there are no gamebreaking items or anything that you can buy with premium currency, it just means that instead of being "free to play," as LOTRO advertises itself as, it's really more of a "buy to play" game. (-) - GRAPHICS: I hate to say it, but LOTRO just isn't a graphically pleasing game anymore. The game has been around since 2007, which makes it 8 years old and it really shows. Textures are muddy, distant objects are pixelated and the character models... don't even get me started. The character models are mostly just flat-out ugly and when most people get into the game, the deciding factor of whether they like it or not is going to be usually determined by the graphics, which is a shame, because I believe that LOTRO should be looked at not for its graphics, but rather for it's content. However, it's inevitable and I understand how people feel about it. (-) - COMBAT: Not much to say here. Some skill animations are cool, but the combat of LOTRO consists of very simple key combos and doesn't really provide much difficulty. When it takes you as long as I did to get to max level, this combat can get to be EXTREMELY monotonous and boring. TL;DR: If you're a fan of The Lord of the Rings and of MMORPG games, maybe even if you're not a die-hard fan like I am, there are still plenty of things to enjoy about LOTRO. It's gorgeous, it's lengthy, it has an extremely friendly community, and it's great for anyone who has ever wanted to explore what may be the best iteration of Middle Earth to ever be portrayed in a video game. However, if you're not crazy about The Lord of the Rings, there probably isn't much for you here. The graphics are very dated, the combat is often monotonous, and the payment model is arbitrarily confusing. There are plenty of other MMOs on the market too, and I can even recommend some! Go play RIFT, or TERA, those are modern day MMOs that do things right. Overall, if I could say one thing about the game that applies to all kinds of players, it's that you should at least try it out. It is free to start, and if you like it as much as I did, then you can buy the rest of the game and still have a great experience.