Fans are probably just counting down the days before the final Tolkien film lands in cinemas. But while whittling down the days, they can entertain themselves, and their friends mayhaps, by taking a virtual journey to Middle Earth. No you will not need some magical portal or even a ticket aboard Air New Zealand. All that is required is for you to fire up your Chrome web browser for this interactive tour of the fantasy world that also lets you even reenact the epics battles with your friends.
This isn’t exactly the first time that Chrome did an Experiment that ties into the high fantasy world, but this time, in line with the atmosphere of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Google is adding a bit of swash-buckling action to the experience. The updated Middle Earth tour includes a peer-to-peer Battleground feature, where you can challenge friends or complete strangers in a turn-based game set in iconic locations such as Helm’s Deep, The Lonely Mountain, Minas Tirith, Mirkwood, and The Black Gate.
For those with a more peaceful bent, the usual tour is offered. You can opt for a guided one, where you get to follow the almost literal footsteps of some of the film’s characters spanning all films, including Frodo, Aragorn, Bard the Bowman, Gandalf, Legolas, and more. Each character has his own path to follow, with each stop elucidated with a quote and a description. Some even have video clips for you to enjoy.
If you’re more of the free-willed type, you can trek off on your own and explore the whale map of Middle Earth. No signposts or text to educate you this time, but you can zoom in and out on the map to see the virtual recreation in all its 3D glory.
This virtual Middle-Earth experience is made possible on your browser by technologies such as WebRTC and WebGL, so it stands that you’ll need a recent version of Chrome installed. It does, however, work on PCs, tablets, and smartphones, so you’ll be able to take your fantasy appetizer with you anywhere you go.