Lord of the Rings: War in the North

Posted: November 15, 2011 by Micah in Video Game Reviews

Once upon a time I worked as a camp counselor at a tiny camp in the great state of Maine. Not a “tiny camp” like a camp for midgets. But a “tiny camp” like a small camp… in case you were wondering… if it was for midgets. Anyway, whilst playing soccer one day and using my preternatural abilities to wow children all across the tiny camped area I stepped in a hole and snapped my ankle into four million pieces. Fortunately, I am a ninja. So I gathered my ankle from the four corners of the earth and re-assembled it using hot glue and badger saliva into a severely sprained ankle (because nothing is perfect).

Anyway I spent the next three weeks at my uncle’s house fairly well confined to a couch and mostly occupying my time by playing a game called The Lord of the Rings the TwoTowers. And oh what a game it was!! It trimmed out little things no one cared about like story elements or dialogue or character development (cause that’s what the movie was for) and essentially just handed you a sword, pointed you at a bunch of orcs, and said go.

Fast forward several years and you’ll find me and my friend Riley hunkered down in front of the x-box about to plug in Lord of the Rings: War in the North a game which (we hoped) would carry on the proud traditions of its foregames and provide us with many Orcs for the slaying.

Cause nothing says war like a glowy tree!!

The Plot:

The Lord of the Rings (movies and books) primarily deal with what was happening in the South. Mordor is in the South, Gondor is in the South, Nashville is in the South. You get the idea. There’s a lot of South. This game (as you keen denizens of the interweb have no doubt gathered) occurs mostly in the East. I mean North. Yes. That.

Anyway you play as one of three characters a man named Eradan, an elf woman named Andruil, or a dwarf named Sleepy… I mean Farin. Each character has his or her own specialty with Eradan wielding a bow and a sword, Andruil casting magic at everyone, and Farin running around with an ax spraying deodorant on things.

The three of you are recruited by Aragorn to track down a threat coming from the North of Middle earth. Namely, an army led by the evil Agandaur who is bent on the destruction of all life, and the raising of movie ticket prices.

You’ll meet various members of the Fellowship and occasionally run into characters you’ll remember fondly from the movie but this is largely a story about your three characters and the main plot of Lord of the Rings (while occasionally alluded to) never really affects what’s happening to your characters.

The Gameplay:

War in the North is a fairly straightforward game. Orcs are ugly. You have a sword. Have fun. And it is fun… for the most part. All through the game there is a definite feeling of coolness as you hack your way through legions of green skinned orc warriors! The controls are easy to pick up and the sword/staff/ax play is fun to watch!

Can you say: stress relief?

Occasionally though the game will “mix things up” by having you man turrets and things and these sections get old very quickly. You’ll find yourself itching for your sword before you get through most of them. I’m all about variety but when variety involves you taking away a slice of apple pie and replacing it with a casserole made of George Washington’s nose hair it’s not a good thing.

The visuals:

The game has a great “Lord of the Rings” feel to it. It’s not the best looking game around by any means but if you’re a fan of Lord of the Rings (like me) you’ll appreciate the over-all Tolkien atmosphere to everything. As you go through the game you pick up new armor and weaponry and it’s a lot of fun to watch your character look gradually cooler and cooler as the game goes on.

The voice overs are… okay. Not great. But okay. Though honestly no one will confuse the writing in this game for having been done by Tolkien because he is both A) very dead and B) a much better writer then anyone who worked on this game… or anyone related to anyone who worked on this game… or me. It’s not a huge takeaway from the game because honestly Lord of the Rings is such a well written over all story that you’re willing to forgive the game for its occasional inadequacy. The only time it really gets annoying is when you find yourself having to wade through five or ten minutes of mediocre dialogue before you can get back to the killing.

Honestly one of my biggest gripes with the game is the lack of noticeable Lord of the Rings music. The music for the movies was always so spot on and has become such a part of Lord of the Rings franchise that I think it took some away from the game not having that music in place. The music that is there isn’t bad but I feel like they missed a chance to really pull players in by pumping in some of our favorite tunes from the film.

 In conclusion:

If you like Lord of the Rings you will like this game. If you’re looking for a good distraction and a place to vent some of that pent-up frustration in a “not going to jail” sort of way you will probably like this game too. It’s not perfect by any stretch of the word but it is a well put together game that boasts a fun combat system and gives fans of the books and movies a chance to re-immerse themselves in the Tolkiens world.

I give it 4 shattered ankles out of 5

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