Lord of the Rings: War in the North
We return to Middle-earth but this time we travel to the north and follow the adventures of Farin, Andriel and Eradan, who fight on their own for the greater cause.
Lord of the Rings: War in the North is an RPG which takes place, as the title would suggest, in the northern region of Middle-earth. The events doesn’t follow the official storyline of the Tolkien canon, or the universe displayed in Peter Jackson’s film trilogy.
The game follows three heroes, which the player can choose from. Farin the dwarf, Andriel the elf and Eradan the man. Whether you prefer to fight with a sword, bow and arrow, staff or a battleaxe, the developer has done a good job of giving you a good selection of characters to play as.
Are you Tolkien to me?
You will visit such familiar places as Bree and Rivendell, which we know from the movie trilogy, but you’ll also make your way through regions such as Mirkwood and Fornos, described in the books by Tolkien.
While playing, you will gain experience and level up your character. The typical strength, stamina, dexterity and will attributes will improve your character and on top of that, you’ll earn skill points to unlock a new skill or upgrade a special ability.
With the choice of playing with either a ranger, a champion or a loremaster, you have a pretty good chance to pick a character that suits your playstyle. Eradan the ranger is able to equip swords and bows, while he also has many stealth abilities, allowing you to sneak up on enemies. Farin the dwarf is the most skilled when it comes to melee weapons, as you would expect if you know your LOTR lore. He can equip battleaxes, hammers as well as a crossbow. His special ability is the ability to mine for gems, which are useful in crafting. Andriel the elf is of the loremaster class, straight out of Rivendell, trained by Elrond himself. She uses staffs for somewhat ineffective melee attacks, but mainly magic spells. She can create magic potions from ingredients found scattered around the world.
A co-op-tastic adventure
With combat being the most important part of the whole game, it has to be enjoyable throughout your play through all the chapters. With three different playable character classes, which you can switch between at any point throughout the game, you have the opportunity for plenty of variation. But if you stick with the same class, you’ll have to be satisfied with finding new items or unlocking new abilities, which is a very slow process.
The combat is comprised of two main attacks. X makes you perform the standard light melee attack, while Y performs a heavy attack. Combining a series of light attacks with a finishing heavy attack earns you more XP. All three characters have a long range attack as well, which comes in handy when archers are sending arrows down upon you, or when kamikaze-like orcs rush you and try to blow you and your party to smithereens. The three characters also have their own unique abilities, which can be accessed by pressing the right trigger button. You’d of course have to have an eye on your mana bar, so you don’t run out.
The developer designed the game from the ground up, with the opportunity for you to play co-op alongside one or two friends. A feature rarely found in a console RPG and I love, that they’ve taken this approach. However, if you find yourself playing through the game solo, you’ll need to switch characters often to get the full experience.
Since you probably already know the epic tale J.R.R. Tolkien told either in book form or by the three movies, you can’t really expect a story of the same epic magnitude. And as long as you don’t expect the story to be the driving force of the game, you should find plenty of entertaining moments. While the title does have guest appearances by well known characters such as Aragorn and Gandalf, the three new characters, which you can play as, really don’t establish themselves enough on their own, for you to care that much about them.
It’s a big plus, that you can play LOTR: War in the North in co-op with a friend or two, because there really aren’t a lot of co-op role playing games on console. Not enough if you ask me anyway. The game also have an unlockable nightmare mode, adding to the replayability.
LOTR: War in the North will do a good job of entertaining you, as long as you don’t expect a deep role playing experience. This title delivers a fun combat-based gameplay supported by underlying classic RPG elements. Hardcore RPG fans will perhaps not look at this game twice, but fans of the LOTR universe as well as entertaining combat-based adventure titles, should be able to find this plenty entertaining.
Need; It would have been easier to relate to some of the more established characters in the LotR-verse, but on the other hand, it’s nice to see another angle of the well known story.
Miss; The combat system is a bit simplified, if you mainly stick to one character and the attack animations could have been a lot more varied and entertaining.