It's rare to say that EA games made the definitive game in any genre, but one where it clearly still holds the crown is Lord of the Rings real-time strategy titles. Both Battle for Middle Earth, its sequel and subsequent expansion, were some of the best RTS games of their generation and arguably the best Lord of the Rings strategy games ever released.
But they didn't last forever, with EA shutting down their servers in 2010 and leaving fans forced to use workarounds and networking prototcols to play against one another. Now though, a legion of fans have put together patches for all of the games to make them playable on modern systems, updated their graphics and features, and even created custom servers you can connect to, so online multiplayer is possible once again (thanks Kotaku).
The mod that upgrades everything to look far nicer on modern systems is the Battle for Middle Earth HD Edition modification. It massively improves the detail level of individual models and characters, making them look much more like their cinematic counterparts. Better yet, it works with the base version of the game, so even if your opponent doesn't have it installed, you can both still game away without sync issues.
Download the HD pack here.
Once that's installed all you need to do is download the patch from T3A, which will bring you online with all of the other modern Battle for Middle Earth players.
Don't have the original games and can't find them online? No surprise there, as the games have not been sold for some time. Fortunately, T3A has ISO downloads for the original games too.
So what are you waiting for? Go and take Middle Earth already.