I decided to check out the open beta (World Tour) of Lord of the Rings Online. Here are some thoughts. Keep in mind that I didn't get very far, only about level 6, and my computer is at the low end of the scale, which may account for a lot of my impressions.
If I had to sum up my LotRO impressions in a single word, it would be: drab.
Seriously, the entire colour scheme is greens and browns, and not even vibrant greens and browns, but this faded, dull look. Maybe it shouldn't be fully cartoony like WoW, but everyone doesn't need be dressed in brown. Primary colours are good.
LotRO generally lacks that veneer of polish that separates great games from the rest. It's a lot of small things, the way icons are really hard to tell apart. ( A pink arm on a red background is really hard to distinguish. Whatever happened to contrast?) Or the fact that a couple of UI elements overlap each other.
Also, it shouldn't be this hard to make an attractive character. If I'm making a female elf, I would like her to look like Liv Tyler, not Hugo Weaving. (Though Orlando Bloom is a reasonable option.) Character generation has a thousand different combinations, but it was so much work to make something that didn't look stupid.
This extends to animations. Watching people move in this game is painful. Most people look like they are skating on the grass.
Mechanics-wise, it seems okay. Very similar to WoW and other games. I tried a Captain, Minstrel, and Defender for a bit. The minstrel was pretty interesting, but pulling out a lute and strumming for half a second in the middle of combat was really weird.
I played the captain the most. It's a sort of combination of paladin and hunter. I really liked the shouts you could cast upon defeating an opponent. The biggest thing that bothered me was the sound my captain made when doing one of her warcries. Unfortunately, that was the ability I used to pull mobs, so I heard it at the beginning of every fight.
There were a couple of nice touches, the way quest goals changed as you completed them. For example, if you had to kill 10 boars, after you killed them the goal displayed on screen was "return to questgiver". Additionally, being able to click on the quest tracked on screen and open up the quest log was very useful.
As well, the way they use instances and zones is really intriguing. For example, you have to defending the starting town from an attack, and there are two zones: a pre-attack zone and a post-attack zone. After you do the attack quest, you end up in the post-attack zone, which looks just like the pre-attack zone. Each zone contains all the people at that stage of the game. Pretty clever, imo.
All in all, it seemed like a decent game, but really lacking in polish. I stopped playing after my captain hit level 6, mostly because the colour scheme depressed me, and I was having a hard time telling icons apart. I guess I really prefer the more colourful, "unrealistic" games.