I often find myself defending licensed games. Not because I'm naive enough to think that they're all fantastic, but because I believe they deserve a fair shake.

Sure there are some stinkers out there, but there are also some seriously good games like Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay.

And then a game like The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies - Fight for Middle-earth comes out and makes my job that much harder.

Out of the fires of Mount Doom

Battle of the Five Armies has a very pretty main menu and army selection screen. It makes great use of the source imagery from the films and is bound to get first timers excited to dive in.

Unfortunately the pretty photos are about all this game has going for it. That and the persistent scores that let players help decide which army will emerge victorious. And it's free, so there's that.

To call Battle of the Five Armies a mess would be putting it lightly. The visuals are awful, with incredibly dull (and repetitive) animations, ridiculously muddy textures, and no real impact to your attacks.

Honestly it's difficult to tell when a strike even connects. The environment doesn't look any better, either.

Forget the precious

Actually playing Battle of the Five Armies is even less pleasant. The controls are messy and unresponsive - half of the time your character won't attack when you press the button, or they'll stop attacking mid-combo for absolutely no reason.

The other half of the time they won't stop attacking when you let go of the button.

There's also no real strategy or even agency to the combat. You just wander over to a group of enemies and start mashing the sword icon.

About the only thought you'll have to put into it is to not let yourself get surrounded. Because enemies will stun-lock you all the time. Because of course they do.

The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies - Fight for Middle-earth exists purely as a barely interactive advertisement for the movie. It's so bad it's shocking to think it's got such a big name attached to it.

Remove the name and the fancy menus and it would be indistinguishable from most of the sophomoric shovelware that's always flooding the App Store.