Lord of the Rings: War in the North review (Xbox 360)

I have to admit that I am a massive LOTR fan. I love just dreaming away while watching the films, thinking about the character, what the message in the films are and anything else in between.

So when I found out that one of my friends had bought and completed War in the North, I asked her if I could borrow the game so I could play it and see whether it was a game worth buying or not. The game was developed by Snowblind Studios and published by Warner Bros. Interactive entertainment for the Xbox 360, PC, PlayStation 3 and online on Cloud in November 2011.


The Story:

The story follows the battle of 3 companions in the background of the story created by JRR Tolkien, but it specifically follows the universe that was created by Peter Jackson, the director of the LOTR films plus it runs parallel to the events of the books and films.  The three companions, travel through the North to find and kill one of Sauron’s generals.  You start out in Bree, a few days before the Hobbits arrive there and you encounter Aragorn.  The three companions tell Aragorn of the attack on the Rangers in Sarn Ford and that they over heard the Witch-King talking to Agandaûr. The Witch-King sends him to Fornost for an attack. When hearing this, Aragorn orders the companions to head to the north and stop the attack from happening

In Fornost, you will eventually find and rescue a great Eagle, Beleram who will continue to aid you whenever you are out in the open during the game. You will also encounter a few characters that were in the books but weren’t in the films, the easiest example to name are Elrond’s sons.

The Characters

The companions consist of thee warriors, a male Dwarf, an Elven female and a Male Ranger. These three characters fall into separate classes, the Champion/Warrior, Loremaster/Mage and Ranger/Rogue. You can choose whatever character you choose, you can upgrade. You do this by gaining experience which in turn lets you gain levels to upgrade your character. I will tell you a little about each character and their capabilities.


Eradan is the Ranger, a Dúnadan. He is probably the most capable character to use in the game. This is because he can use a 2 handed sword, a sword and shield, dual wield swords and use a bow. He also has stealth abilities that you can buy which allows you to sneak up on enemies and attack them from behind. He is probably the best with range weapons.


Farin is the Dwarf Champion of Erabor. Out of the three characters, he’s probably the most skilled when it comes to melee weapons, but that doesn’t mean that he is without ranged weapons. He uses a crossbow for the ranged attacks. He can also mine gems, which you can sell in shops to be able to buy better equipment.


Andriel is the Elven Loremaster from Rivendell who has been taught by Elrond. She uses magic as her defence and offence but she is capable of dual wielding a sword in combination with her staff, which can also be used to attack enemies with. Her abilities are offensive and supportive spells but she can get melee abilities and she can be levelled up to become a battle mage if you choose. She has the capability of harvesting herbs that you find scattered around the game world and in turn you can make potions with them. She is the best when it comes to magic.


The Gameplay

The gameplay in the first chapter is relatively easy. You get the time to properly get used to the controls and you level up fairly quickly. But after that it starts to become a lot harder.  The levelling up system isn’t that much different from other RPG games, but it does mean that it’s sometimes difficult to get the abilities that you really want to have. For example, to get the dual wielding ability, you have to unlock a certain number of abilities before you can.

The game heavily relies on the fact that you have to work together with the NPCs (when you’re doing single-player) but this is also somewhat of a hindrance. I’ve encountered this on several occasions that myself and one of the NPCs were close to death and that we had to be revived by the last NPC standing. But instead of the NPC going over to help me first, he or she went over to safe the other NPC first which usually resulted in the NPC dying which lead to game over. Despite the fact that this was really frustrating, it also proved to be a nice challenge as you would have to rethink your strategies to make sure you wouldn’t encounter the same problem.

I have to admit that I haven’t used Farin during gameplay at all, the one time that I had used him, I found him really clumsy to control, but that was probably because of the fact that I was used to controlling either Eradan or Andriel during the game, so I’m not really able to tell you much about what it’s like to control him. I can tell you something about Eradan and Andriel, switching between these two characters in mission is probably the best choice, at least that’s what I think. I found that Andriel’s ability to cast a spell that not only warded of arrows or other magic attacks but also healed a player was really useful at times. But on the other hand, I tended to switch over to Eradan whenever I couldn’t complete a level using Andriel seeing as he is better with ranged weapons. This was pretty much my tactic throughout the game until I reached the last set of levels. They were pretty difficult but they got just a tiny it easier when I used Eradan seeing as I could have the NPCs go in and do close range attacks while I stayed back and took enemies out long range. Still whichever way you decide to play, I would advise you to buy health potions at any opportunity you’ll get because you are most certainly going to need them.


The Conclusion

So in conclusion I have to say that War in the North is a refreshing change in the Lord of the Rings franchises. While this story didn’t happen in the films or the books, it is most certainly possible for it to have happened which is what makes the game good.  Some parts of the game are really challenging, while others are relatively easy and this is what keeps you on your toes and what makes you rethink your strategy each time. I would imagine that playing this game multi-player would make it even better, but seeing as I didn’t have the possibility to do this, I wouldn’t be able to tell you much about this.

Despite the difficulty in some parts of the game I can still highly recommend this game if you’re a fan of Lord of the Rings seeing as you will have the possibility to encounter some of the characters from the books and explore Bree and Rivendell.

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