by Will Murtha
With a plethora of great game releases in the fall, some games are inevitably overlooked. One such game is The Lord of the Rings: War in the North. War in the North takes place in the background of the events of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The game starts out with the three characters in the Prancing Pony: Farin who is our Dwarf warrior, Andriel our Elf mage and Eradan the Human ranger, are talking to Aragorn. Aragorn tells them of an attack that is about to happen on Bree and that Agandaûr, Sauron’s right hand man, is behind it. Your goal is to stop it. From there the story continues in the game. The three of your characters are fighting a war in the north while the Fellowship helps Frodo destroy the ring.
The combat for this game is extremely simple. It is your classic hack and slash, where you are put up against a ton of enemies and you mash the X button for weaker attacks and Y for more powerful attacks. A cool thing about the combat system is the combos you can do, dismembering arms, legs and even the heads of your opponents. This leads to a good amount of blood pouring out of the orc body, a violent display for a Lord of the Rings game. While you’re fighting an enemy, a yellow arrow sometimes appears above their head. If you press Y you do a critical hit and can even kill an enemy. Those attacks look awesome and do some intense damage too. Another part of the combat is ranged combat. The Dwarf carries a crossbow, the Human uses a bow and the Elf uses magic, nothing too special here.
The War in the North has some basic role playing game elements to it. There are four categories you can put your points into when you level up. This includes stamina which increases health, strength which increases melee damage, dexterity which increase ranged damage and will which increases the mana bar for magic or special abilities. After you put your points into whatever stats you want, you can now select an ability to use. For example, Farin’s war cry makes him more do more damage with his weapon and increases armor stats. The armor and weapons you find and buy sometimes have gem slots which allow you to equip gems to make your stats better or give your weapon extra elemental damage.
One of the best parts of this game is the multiplayer. When you have two other friends to play with it makes this game ten times more fun. At one point of the story my friends and I had to take out eight trolls. It was intense and much more fun than any single player encounters. The AI teammates you have don’t do you any favors. If you let one die your whole team dies. Also, there are times where you must protect a door from oncoming trolls or suicide orcs. This proves extremely difficult with the AI allies rushing to meet the other enemies while you try to face the trolls alone.
War in the North is not immune to glitches. These are mainly multiplayer glitches. For example, if you find a check point in the middle of a quest can head back to a town to repair your equipment and sell things. When one of my friends tried to go back, one guy started all the way at the start of the map, the other had a black screen and couldn’t see anything. We all left the game and then retried it and one person spawned outside the map. This has happened a couple of times but not too frequently.
Other criticisms are that the characters are very dull and don’t add much to the story. Dialogue really doesn’t matter too much either; having dull characters and bad dialogue hurts games for me.
Lord of the Rings War in the North went up against the juggernauts of games like Battlefield 3, Modern Warfare 3 and Skyrim which hurt its sales and coverage, but this game is enjoyable to play. Even though the fighting system is simple, it’s nice to sit down and play a hack and slash type of game for a change. Multiplayer shines through with this game. Killing orcs with your buddies is ten times better because it can add a more competitive spirit to the game, racing to level up. Who doesn’t like collecting loot as well? In single player you don’t have this and the crappy AI makes this game a lot more boring and difficult to play. Although the characters don’t add much and the dialogue doesn’t add anything, the fun you have in multiplayer makes up for it. Also you have to give credit to Snowblind Studios writing a story that’s still Lord of the Rings but differentiates itself from the story of the main characters.
War in the North Score- 8 out of 10