Josh writes: Ringers around the world got a chance to step back into the world of Middle-Earth recently with WB Games and Snow Blind Studios action RPG The Lord of the Rings: War in the North. This game instead of having us play as The Fellowship or follow them takes us to places in Middle-Earth we’ve not been before. Not to mention we also get to interact with some of the major players in The War of the Ring as well as characters like Radagast the Brown who we’ve only had names mentioned.
War in the North takes place during The War of the Ring and through the eyes of characters Eradan: Dunedain Ranger, Andriel: Loremaster of Rivendell , and Farin: Champion of Erebor. This story is expanded universe like in that none of this is actually recorded by Professor Tolkien himself. That does not stop the story from being very entertaining as you venture through Middle-Earth being a small part in helping to stop Sauron from getting back the Ring of Power.
During your journey through Middle-Earth you get to visit places like Bree where you will enter The Prancing Pony to visit with Strider who gives you your first mission. After leaving Bree you will venture to Fornost and meet Beleram one of the great eagles along with the sons of Elrond: Elladan and Elrohir. You’ll eventually get to check out the Barrow Downs were we can put visually just how creepy that place is. One of the coolest things about this game to me was getting to go to Rivendell and meet the many of the main players of the Fellowship, Elrond, Arwen, Bilbo, and Gloin. During this you get your next mission, a couple of side quests (talk to Elrond, Arwen, and Bilbo), and an achievement/trophy if you talk to Frodo. Beleram is not the only eagle you meet during your time in this game with Gwaihir the lord of the eagles during the next mission.
Probably the next coolest part for me outside of Rivendell is getting to go inside of Mirkwood. Getting a chance to see what this forest might look like was really quite cool. You get a chance to fight against the giant spiders of this realm who we know to be descendants of Shelob. While in Mirkwood you have to save another character whose name you might know in Radagast the Brown. From there you continue to make your way through the north eventually clashing with Agandaur. During this sequence you have to stop him in order to help save Middle-Earth while Frodo destroys the ring.
The graphics for War in the North are pretty decent overall. The details in the areas you visit are really quite good. It very much makes the worlds feel alive and makes you feel like you are apart Middle-Earth. Where I think the graphics could be better are of the character models, which feel a little rough, compared to the how they look during the RPG parts. Another area where the graphics shine are during kill sequences as you have orc and other creature body parts flying all over the place.
War in the North is an action RPG which is an interesting way to go around Middle-Earth. As with any RPG you have talk with other characters in order to get the most out of the story and to complete quests. It also gives you more insight into why you are doing what you’re supposed to be doing in this game. For me as a minor RPG fan this was all blended in quite nicely and not overdone to where I got bored. It also helped that this game covers a subject matter dear to my heart. Now, the rest of the game is simple button mashing when you deal with enemies. You have a button that does quick strikes, one that does heavy strikes, and of course ranged attacks. Characters can combine that with special abilities each character has.
This game for me was so much fun to play. Having the chance to wander through Middle-Earth and just be a part of the universe was worth the purchase for me. Snow Blind though did a great job of really making the places and people feel as if they fit into what we love about the world Tolkien created and Jackson brought to the big screen. The button mashing aspect is fine as its really just pure fun to run around and chop orcs, trolls, spiders, etc into bits as you complete your tasks. I do think this is a game video game Ringers should give a chance as I think they will love being apart of helping save Middle-Earth.