LOTR : War in the North
Lord of the Rings is a franchise that just keeps giving. And as of late we have enjoyed the fruits of some very clever and talented people. This is of course in the form of the epic 3 part blockbusters brought to life by Peter Jackson and the team at Weta.
However translating such an epic story into solid game play has been somewhat problematic. Often the sense of adventure and desperate battle is lost in translation, and lets face it we actually know what the story is.
So along comes something quite different. Lord of the Rings – War in the North. War in the North takes the player on a journey that occurs in parallel with Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings.
You start off at the Prancing Pony just before Frodo arrives on his quest to Rivendell and your story often crosses path with the main characters as you explore other strange “going on’s” across middle earth. What transpires is not a half hearted story telling effort, but a tale that will even inspire the most hardened Tolkien fan. This really does bring an extra, and welcome, dimension to the classic Lord of the Rings.
Gameguide was exceptionally fortunate to score a couple of review copies so the team could form up a fellowship and explore the world of Middle Earth. Here’s our reactions :
(Brad) Multi-player online role-playing games can get lost on the current world of first person games (COD or Modern Warfare 3) but LoTR: War in the North steps out from the noise.
(Skip) Does it what.. I’m a solid FPS fan, and third person games annoy the heck out of me. Camera tracking can drive one mental and it just feels weird. Ok so im a bit of a freak in that regards, however War in the North may have just quietly changed my mind.
(Jonathan) Has to be said though that it was a freaking awesome night. It’s not a genre I would usually play, I’m more into FPS and such.
War in the North takes the player on a journey that occurs in parallel with Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings. You start off at the Prancing Pony just before Frodo arrives on his quest to Rivendell and your story often crosses path with the main characters as you explore other strange “going on’s” across middle earth. What transpires is not a half hearted story telling effort, but a tale that will even inspire the most hardened Tolkien fan. This really does bring an extra, and welcome, dimension to the classic Lord of the Rings.
You play as part of a three person fellowship, exploring areas around the main storyline of Lord of the Rings. Along the way you need to work as team to defeat the orc hordes and various heavy hitting trolls and creatures. And trust us, team work is a must. You can choose to play this alone in a single player mode, co-op with friends (even with the option to leave one player slot to the computer) and even multi-player online (allowing a random player to join in).
(Jonathan) I guess the thing for me, and this is a weakness as well as a strength, is that the game really excels as a co-op.
(Brad) I must admit my first hour on the game had me starting to worry that this was going to be another epic fail like so many other games of this genre, but give it time. Within 2 hours I was hooked, the engaging game play and the clever story line pulled me in and I did not want to stop. Whilst the single player campaign is good the strength of this game is in its multi-player online capabilities, this has to be one of the best social games to play with friends.
(Skip) After an epic epic night battle with the gameguide crew, i did spend sometime in single player mode and actually enjoyed that just as much. The computer based co-op players were not too bad, and certainly not prone to doing the dumbest thing possible in an awkward battle situation.
(Brad) It is important to note that this is not a virtual world that you can wander around, you are kept within the boundaries of the environment that you are in, but the graphics are stunning and in the time that myself and 2 other colleagues played this game we had no hanging whilst playing online.
Characters & Visuals
Alongside the closely intertwined Lord of the Rings storyline is the characters. You will bump into each of the primary players in the Lord of the RIngs saga and converse with them. They have all been modeled on Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings cast. One downside is that the voicing is not the original cast, however this is quite forgivable and you really move past that observation quite quickly as the story lines take over.
The detailing on this game is stunning. One of the biggest draw cards for any successful Lord of the Rings outing is where due diligence is given to the visual aspects of Middle Earth. As a kid i grew up with Tolkien’s tales and the visual pictures his words painted. Both with the Lord of the Rings movies and indeed with this game i felt that the detail was a perfect representation of that imagery. To top this off the detailing with characters would change depending on environment. As you talked in the rain, your hair and clothes would get soaked and you could see very clear rain effects; As you ran thru dirt and dust, elements would stick to your outfits; And even in the heat of battle as your dismembering hordes of orcs, you would become covered in inky black orc blood. All of these things, and much more, made the gameplay that more realistic.
Between most key game play moments you are driven into the storyline again with cut scenes. Once these have passed you are left to explore the safe space around your destination and discover other side quests or to find out more of the storyline from other computer characters.
(Brad) My only criticism tends to be around the of cut scenes, I wanted them to stop so I could keep killing orcs and battling the evil forces of Sarumon.
(Skip) Yup…. Cut Scenes…. so they were pretty good, however when you just had a massive battle and want to get back into it they just take that much longer. Thankfully the developers allowed you to skip past them with relative ease. (aka much furious button mashing.)
(Brad) I would recommend this game to friends as a great way to break away from the current first person shoot em up games. My rating 8/10.
(Skip) This was fun and while the storyline was quite linear you left that behind for the thrill of the adventure. Its great having something that is so easily recognisable yet remain shrouded in the mystery of a new storyline. Definitely one to encourage your friends to buy and end up spending hours upon hours online battling as a fellowship. My rating 7/10
(Jonathan) We played as a team, shared resources and talked #### all night. It pretty much sums up everything that is awesome about (social) gaming.. ..at the moment.. (it) is the best online social meeting place ever, and War in the North just made it a bajillion times more interesting!