The Lord of the Rings: War in the North is a new RPG developed by Snowblind Studios.
It's been a while since we had a Lord of the Rings game. The last title, TLOTR Conquest was released in 2009. With developer EA loosing the rights to TLOTR title, the franchise had gone silent. Until now. Almost three years later, and the epic franchise has returned. Developed by Snowblind Studios, the guys behind Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance. TLOTR War in the North brings an all new story to the epic franchise.
TLOTR War in the North is an action role playing game (RPG) that is largely focused on CO-op. Whilst the game stays true to the franchise, it does expand on it with new ideas. You are introduced to new characters, and will discover landscapes never seen before. The plot is set against the events from the trilogy. You and your warriors embark on a quest, battling through the north, and trying to defeat one of the most powerful and dangerous lieutenants, Agandaur.
If role playing games are to your taste, TLOTR War in the North shouldn't be hard to pick up. At the start of the game, you must choose from three playable characters. A Human warrior, Elf and Dwarf. Each character holds their own set of skills and levelling system. Depending on which race you pick, they all fit into the game nicely. That being said, they aren't the most interesting characters and don't stand up to the same quality of Gandolf, for example.
War in the North works like any other RPG. You earn XP for killing enemies, completing quests etc. It's very straight forward and will become familiar to any role playing fan. Once you level up, you are given skillpoints that can be spent on upgrades for your character. You can increase your heroes health, strength, and purchase new abilities, like duel wielding for example.
Combat is certainly one of the strongest aspects to the game. It can be very enjoyable to slash your way through waves of enemies, and watching the blood spill before your eyes. Slow-down finishing moves also feel very satisfying. It's the most authentic and bloody combat from the series yet. This is all good and well, but within an hour or so, the repetition kicks in. As you constantly fighting waves of enemies, it starts to feel more like a chore. There's times when I just wanted the waves to stop, just so I could advance to the next section. A nice range of abilities make combat more fun, but it can take far to long before you earn a new ability.
Playing in Solo does work well enough. Your AI partners do a decent job and rush to you when you go down. That being said, War in the North was built for the CO-op experience, and playing with three other friends is much more enjoyable. You never have to rely on AI, and combat feels much more lively.
TLOTR War in the North is a decent RPG, but it's very basic. It feels more like an RPG from the last generation and doesn't offer anything new we haven't seen before. For true RPG, and fans of the franchise, War in the North can offer some enjoyment. There's looting, levelling up and a nice range of upgrades, but for those after a more deep experience like Dragon Age, War in the North isn't going to cut it.
Review by Gareth Smith