“It began with the forging of the Great Rings” (Lord of the Rings). Our story begins here as well, but takes an entirely different path. Lord of the Rings: War in the North is this week’s Gaming Under $20. Obviously it’s an RPG, so if that’s not your style, let me save you the time and trouble and just say skip it. If you are an RPG fan, let’s get started.
There are three characters to choose from, which are all unlocked from the start. The first is a dwarf, Farin, the Champion. He’s a dwarf, so of course, he fights with a giant ax. He has a crossbow, but unless you play as him, he seldom uses it as an A.I. The next is a Dúnedain Ranger, Eradan. As an A.I., he mainly shoots his bow and only dual-wields one-handed weapons when attacked directly. Finally, there is an elf, Andriel, a Lore-master. She carries a staff and, once upgraded, she can dual-wield another one-handed weapon alongside it. Her staff can shoot magic bolts, but Andriel’s bolts require magic while Eradan and Farin use arrows. Apart from the long range, you have a strong melee and a fast melee. There are also special attacks that you can unlock for each character. Along the way, you’ll save one of the Great Eagles and he becomes an aerial attack.
The game starts with a meeting with Aragorn, right before Frodo and the rest of them show up. Aragorn charges the three with a mission in the North. The mission is as secret as the Ring Bearer’s. I’m no diehard Lord of the Rings fan, I’ve watched the movies, but I didn’t read the book. I’m assuming if you did read the books, all of the places you visit in the game such as, Ettenmoors, Fornost, Mirkwood and Mount Gundabad, sound more familiar. After the first mission, you will travel to Rivendell and meet more familiar characters, such as Gandalf, Legolas, Gimli, and others. Some characters give you side quests to do alongside the main quest, usually gathering shit, and they usually give you your choice of some good equipment for your trouble.
The game is similar to Dragon Age or Mass Effect. You have a party, but you don’t choose from a number of allies and you can’t switch characters mid level. There is not an open world travel like Fable or Kingdom of Amalur, instead you have map travel. It saves time, but takes away from exploring or prolonging the game. Also, the map shows a lot of other places that I didn’t get to travel to. I don’t know if I didn’t talk to the right people or if they are just there to inform and taunt. There are challenge levels, as well. They consist of five waves of enemies and a boss wave.
I enjoyed the gameplay of Lord of the Rings: War in the North. The combat was straight forward and simple. Unfortunately, my strategy is always that, “The best defense is a good offense”, so I never block. At most, I might dodge away from an attack. I only block if I’m getting an achievement for 100 parries or something. So, some parts took a little more effort than they probably should have on my part. One thing I thought was cool was giving allies equipment you don’t use. That is, until I didn’t notice a change in anything and when I switched characters they didn’t have any of the crap I’ve been giving them for three fourths of the game. Awesome. All of that equipment that could have been sold for gold was thrown away. The other thing I absolutely hate about RPGs is that they give you all the cool shit at the very end of the game. What the Hell am I supposed to do with this now that the game is over? Play a DLC for maybe an hour? This game solves that problem, partially. Upon beating the game, you start over with your equipment and the level you’re at, but the difficulty increases. Now, I can use that awesome staff or sword or whatever and kick some ass.
This game was great. It’s a relatively short game; I beat it in two or three days, but don’t let that discourage you. It is probably more fun with friends as your allies instead of A.I., but I have no friends, so I wouldn’t know.
If you are an RPG fan or a Lord of the Rings fan I would say this game is definitely Worth It.
By Alex Kirn