I am uploading some previous reviews I wrote on my Facebook page and posting them here so we can bolster our review content on the site. I wrote these during the summer of 2012 and during that period I used a 1-10 system in the same vain of IGN or Polygon. I converted them over to our sites 1-5 scale though for congruence with our other reviews. Enjoy!
Lords of the Rings: War in the North was released in November of 2011 as Warner Brother’s first game since they received the license back from EA. It was released to severally mixed reviews and I don’t understand why. Simply put, War in the North could have easily been considered 2011’s Borderlands.
The story of the War in the North is meant to mirror the films of the Lord of the rings. It starts just as Frodo begins his journey with the ring toward Rivendell. You play as one of the three different characters; Eradan a Ranger of the Dunedain who’s primary weapons are swords and Longbows, Farin a Champion of Erebor who is mostly used for Melee with his Axe but also has a Crossbow, and finally Andriel the Loremaster from Rivendell, she is the Mage of the party. The characters are all voiced just fine, with most of the heavy lifting in the main three done by video gaming’s Kevin Bacon, Nolan North, who voices Eradan.
War in the North revolves around stopping Agandaûr, a servant of Mordor who is sent to enslave the North. You are tasked with stopping him by none other than Elrond himself. The story will have you traveling across all of the Northern Middle Earth, from Bree to Mount Gundabad to Mrikwood. In your journey you meet many characters talked about during the books and film but whom never truly get screen time like Radagast the Brown, another one of the Wizards of Middle Earth.
While the story doesn’t break any new ground in LotR lore, it is still a rather fun to story to be a part of. As a longtime fan of LotR I was enthralled to see so many of these locations and characters who weren’t explored more. The game also isn’t entirely linear which is a beautiful thing to see in an Action RPG, it allow additional side quests to be found through dialogue trees and exploration of levels. The Campaign goes for about 12-15 on the main difficulty, but could easily take longer on higher difficulties or if you further explore side quests.
The gameplay is possibly the weakest portion of War in the North. It is mostly just your standard fair Action RPG gameplay based around quite a bit of button mashing. The enemy types are relatively varied so it does present new challenges depending on which type you fight, from quick strikers to heavy shielded foes. These enemies can also take a heck of a lot of damage in most cases. This is by no means an easy game, and you will die quite a few times starting out.
Combat monotony will often be broken up by turret sequences that I found rather enjoyable. With the ability to take out many of these frustratingly difficult enemies in one to two shots gave me a sense of power that isn’t often felt otherwise in the game. The RPG mechanic do allow for you to get new attacks and abilities that come in extreme handy throughout the combat. Each class can focus on different aspects of gameplay. For instance, if you wanted Eradan to become a stealthy character there is a skill tree for that, and if you want him to be a primarily melee fighter you could do that as well. It allowed you to play how you wanted, thought there were some choices that didn’t work well for your party.
The game does have a rather extensive loot system with random drops off enemy’s bodies and chests scattered randomly throughout the world. You will find yourself often selling off old equipment to put on a new one you just found. One problem with this though is some weapons can be equipped with Runes that give them additional special abilities, but these runes can’t be taken out at all. So if and when you find better loot, you are basically screwed.
Graphics and Sound
Graphically, The War in the North is decent; it doesn’t break any new ground but serves the game well enough to not make your eyes bleed. The animations on many of the kills are good, but often times it will be buggy during conversations and that can really detract from the experience. The enemies though are very well animated and were quite impressive throughout.
The voiceover work leaves much to be desired. The voice cast from the films is nowhere to be found and it suffers for it. Many of these imitators are just plain poor, though the voice actors for characters brought created just for this game are great. One standout is the actor for your Eagle companion Beleram, as well as the aforementioned Nolan North voicing Eradan.
Multiplayer offers up to three player coop, having each player chooses one of the three. During gameplay you can perform coop attacks that have devastating effects on the enemies. The coop is when the game truly shines as it allows you to experience the story together and work together to defeat many of the games truly difficult bosses. The replay ability of this game is also best in coop as the difficulty goes up each time you beat the story, similar to a New Game plus mechanic where you get to keep all your skills and gear for the next go around.
The War in the North is a worthy addition into the Lord of the Rings lore based on its fun story and interesting characters. It is lacking in voice acting though which does hamper the experience. The co-op and loot dropping system are rather rewarding though, allowing for a hugely diverse experience. Its diverse character customization and multitude of side quests this game goes down as one of the best coop games in years. It is a joy to play with friends, and I recommend it mainly for those who wish for a Borderlands-esc coop experience.
Final Score: 4/5
by, Bobby Marquardt