All spoilers for the films are unmarked. Read on at your own discretion.
The game starts with Gandalf, after joining the battle at Helm's Deep. The action is then divided in three paths: the path of the wizard, the path of the king, and the path of the Hobbits.
In the Path of the Wizard, Gandalf kills the remaining orcs and Uruk-hai at Fangorn forest, and helps Barbol to release the river. Then he is off to Minas Tirith, first helping to keep the orcs from the ramparts, and then helping people to escape to the inner walls.
In the Path of the King, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli (the player can play any of the 3) roam into the haunted mountain to recruit the help of the dead, and then join the final battle at Pelennor Fields.
In the Path of the Hobbits, Sam, Frodo and Gollum (non-playable) escape from Osgiliath. In the next two ones, Sam is alone, first in Shelob's lair, and then in Cirith Ungol.
The Wizard and the King join forces and face Sauron's armies at the Black Gate, and Frodo fights Gollum at Mount Doom. And you know what happens then, don't you?
- Adaptational Badass:
- All four Fellowship Hobbits (even Frodo) are playable in this game, with Sam being the only one available from the start. To drive the point further, Frodo can even play through the levels where he was supposedly the one being in distress while Merry and Pippin can play through Pelennor Fields and Minas Tirith respectively.
- Gollum at Mount Doom. You have to defeat him while he's equipped with the One Ring.
- The Mouth Of Sauron, who actually serves a boss instead of just getting his head cut off like in the movie.
- Adaptational Wimp: The Witch King is killed by Eowyn in a cutscene rather easily, contrasting with how he almost killed her in the movie and she only survived with Merry's intervention.
- Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: The Mouth of Sauron shows Frodo's mithril vest, and Gimli fears that he's dead. Aragorn has no time to say he he does not believe it, as in the film. Then, Gandalf keeps his motivation rant about giving time to Frodo, completely ignoring the vest as if it was never there.
- Ascended Meme: You know what would be great? To select some of the best scenes of the game, and make a video with them, with the "Requiem For a Dream" song in the background! Oh wait, EA already did it. Yay!
- Attack Its Weak Point: The mook spiders in Shelob's Lair are absolute damage sponges... until you figure out how to flip them over and finish them.
- Back-to-Back Badasses: Gandalf and Aragorn, in the cover image.
- Badass in Distress: Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli must save Eowyn and Merry from both the Mumakil and the Witch King.
- Barred from the Afterlife: The spirits of the dead. Aragorn proposed to free them from their oath if they fight for him, and they would have peace and depart.
- Bloodless Carnage: Due to being a T-rated game, there is lots of hack and slash, but no blood.
- Brutal Bonus Level: Two. One is the Palantir of Saruman. It's like the bonus level of the last game, where the player has to fight their way through level after level enemies. It is much harder than the main game, with large groups of archers being encountered along with melee, sometimes shielded enemies, meaning that the player can take a lot of damage from either of them while trying to deal with the other. Later the player starts encountering groups of Champion enemies at the same time. Palantir of Sauron is the same thing, but even worse. The groups of enemies are even larger, which is especially bad with the archers, and it more frequently throws in the stronger enemy types.
- But Now I Must Go: Gandalf must leave Middle Earth once Sauron has been defeated.
- Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": An oliphaunt is "a foul creature of the south."
- Call-Back: One that the films could have used, but missed. After several cut scenes of the battle at Helm's Deep, Aragorn looks a window and remembers Gandalf's departure: "Look to my coming, at first light, on the fifth day. At dawn, look to the East." And, while Gandalf shows up with The Cavalry at the top of the mountain, he uses his first phrase in the film series: "For a wizard is never late, nor is he early: he arrives precisely when he means to"
- Conservation of Ninjutsu: The first missions are sneaky and you face two or three enemies at the same time at most. In the later ones, this trope is in full effect.
- Corridor Cubbyhole Run: A variant in Osgiliath. If Frodo spends too much time in the open, he succumbs to the Nazgul and gives up the One Ring. Success depends on Sam making quick work of enemies and getting Frodo from cover to cover.
- Deadly EuphemismKing of the Dead: The Dead shall fight, when your people are closest to us.
- Defeat Means Respect: In the video game, presenting Anduril to the King of the Dead isn't enough to hold him to his oath. You have to put that pretty sword to work, naturally.
- Difficulty Spike: The Palantir of Saruman is a huge jump in difficult from the main game. It throws huge groups of enemies at the player, which often includes large numbers of archers that can deal a lot of damage while the player is trying to deal with melee enemies, and later multiple champion enemies are sent after the player at once. The Palantir of Sauron manages to even be one compared to Palantir of Saruman. The groups of are even larger, meaning a player who makes mistakes can die in seconds.
- Dual Wielding: As expected, Gandalf uses both his staff and Glamdring to wreck orc ass. Most of his unlockable combos are variants of "stun enemy with staff, chop enemy with sword" over and over.
- Legolas dual wields two short swords/long knives.
- Sauron's Uruk-hai champions dual wield maces, and the Easterlings dual wield halberds, though they aren't as long the type they were seen carrying in the movie.
- Elite Mook: Sauron's Black Uruks and the Easterling enemies. They're stronger than regular orc enemies, dead soldiers and Saruman's Uruk-hai faced in the early levels.
- Enemy Civil War: Fortunately for Sam, there is one going on at Cirith Ungol while he sneaks to free Frodo.
- Escort Mission: Subverted in Osgiliath. While the player is supposed to keep from Frodo from succumbing to the Nazgul, the gauge showing how close he is to falling to the ring only goes up if Sam is out in the open. Frodo can't actually be damaged and the enemies will focus on Sam, so the player doesn't need to worry about Frodo.
- A surprisingly benign example occurs in Minas Tirith where Gandalf has to escort a set number of people to safety. The people will be attacked and killed by enemies in the level, but there is no limit to the number of them that spawn. The level is really more of a matter of the player staying alive so they can kill the enemies to allow the set number of civilians can escape.
- Final Boss: Gollum, at The Crack of Doom.
- Finishing Move: Characters can gain an easy combo for dispatching enemies who have been knocked to the ground.
- Flaming Sword: One of Aragorn's charged area attacks literally sets Anduril on fire.
- Forced Tutorial: The campaign starts with Gandalf joining the fight at Helm's Deep. We learn how to use the controls, fire at a distance, go up and down ladders, use machines laying around, etc.
- Gambit Roulette: Gandalf's narration make it seem as if he had planned and organized everything that took place in the whole film story, even the things that he could not have controlled, or which took place somewhere else. Sam going along with Frodo, after the breaking of the Fellowship? Gandalf's plan. Frodo taking Gollum as guide? Gandalf's plan. Two more hobbits in the mix? Gandalf's plan. Aragorn recruiting the dead spirits? Gandalf's plan. Even the last fight at the Black Gates is described as if planned all along, instead of planned in their context after the end of the battle, as it really was.
- Giant Mook: Trolls. They do a lot of damage and you can't block their attacks. Thankfully there are usually war pikes lying around that you can throw at them to kill them in one hit.
- The Gloves Come Off: Sauron sent all his armies of orcs to the heroes at the Black Gates, but Conservation of Ninjutsu is on their side. So, he sent the Nazgul instead.Nazgul: Lord Sauron has lost patience!
- Hope Springs Eternal: Gollum guided Frodo into Mordor, but he may yet guide Frodo to his doom at Shelob's lair, dooming all Middle-Earth in his bid to recover the Ring for himself. But always, hope endures...
- Improvised Weapon: Braziers can be kicked over onto hordes of enemies, which is exceptionally useful in Cirith Ungol. The discarded war pikes littering the battlefields can be picked up and thrown, which is definitely the safest way to deal with trolls.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: When the Nazgul join the fight at the Black Gate, Gandalf shouts "You know their weakness! Use it!" Hm? Who else in there other than Aragorn is aware of that scene from the first film? Ah, of course, the player.
- Mighty Glacier: The trolls are slow, but their reach means a player that tries to attack them in melee will often get hit before they can get close enough. As you'd expect, their attacks hurt and can't be blocked.
- Moveset Clone: Unlockable characters include Faramir (for Aragorn), Merry and Pippin (for Frodo and Sam).
- Multishot: Legolas can learn this, as well as a skill that allows his arrows to pass through enemies.
- Knife Nut: Aside from Legolas dual wielding them instead of using a sword for melee, all the Hobbits use throwing knives instead of bows for long ranged attacks.
- No Indoor Voice: Be ready! Aragorn is always shouting!
- Non-Player Character: In the Path of the King you can play as Aragorn, Legolas or Gimli; the two ones that you did not select will tag along as NPC. Gollum and the hobbit that you did not select are the NPC in Osgiliath, and Sam is the NPC at Mount Doom. And of course, a lot of Gondor Soldiers here and there.
- One-Hit Kill: Your character can learn species-specific ripostes that act as this and automatically send your character into Perfect Mode. Contrary to the common trope tendency toward Powerful, but Inaccurate, it's a very helpful way to stay in Perfect Mode while mowing down mooks.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Aragorn has returned, and he's the new king of Gondor. And his first government action is... lead the surviving armies to the Black Gate, kill the Mouth of Sauron and loads and loads of orcs.
- The Sixth Ranger: Faramir becomes an unlockable playable character instead of Boromir, therefore replacing him. According to David Wenham, Faramir would have survived if he had actually gone to Rivendell and joined the Fellowship.
- Super Mode: Characters who get into a groove of dishing out the hurt without taking damage go into "Perfect Mode", where they start to glow and score more points. There are unlockable abilities that make this easier to attain.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: Gandalf gives Saruman a pretty solid one in Fangorn Forest, after Saruman helps himself to telepathically taunting Gandalf about the march of technology. Saruman is somehow ignorant of how much shit has been beaten out of his routing army at this point, so Gandalf telling him to pack it in is extremely welcome.
- Took a Level in Badass: Troll enemies are much more dangerous than in the Two Towers video game thanks to their attacks now consisting of a repeated horizontal swings instead a telegraphed overhead swing. As a result it's typically better to fight them at range than in melee. Thankfully there are usually war pikes whenever a troll appears, allowing the player to kill them in one hit. Fully upgraded ranged attacks by Gandalf and Legolas can also kill them in one hit.
- Undignified Death: It's possible to kill a Mûmakil and then die instantly when it falls on you.
- The Unfought: The Witch King appears on the level on Pelenor Fields, but the player doesn't actually fight him so Eowyn can kill him.
- Unique Enemy: Shelob's children are only encountered in one level in the main game, which is naturally her lair. They reappear in the Palantir of Saruman.
- Saruman's Uruk-hai berserkers from the last game are only encountered in one level as champion type enemies for his Uruk-Hai, and then fought in the Palantir of Sauron.
- War Elephants: The Mûmakil. They can only be damaged by climbing onto whatever elevated positions are available and using ranged attacks. Melee attacks have no effect.
- Wrestler in All of Us: In the opening cutscene for the boss battle with Gorbag, the aforementioned Orc dropkicks Shagrat when they come to blows over Frodo's mithril vest.
- Wolf Pack Boss: The Nazgûl fought at the end of the Black Gate.
- You Shall Not Pass!: The Trope Namer himself engages in it again, at the Courtyard scene. The main gates have been breached, and loads and loads of terrified citizens flee in terror to the inner walls, while Gandalf and the soldiers keep the orcs, trolls and other monsters at bay.