Nov 7, 2011

LOTR: The War in the North Review

Is it worth going there and back again?
Flash back a few years. The Lord of the Rings is a massive bandwagon that everyone is jumping on. The Return of the King hits theaters on December 1st, 2003 in Wellington Embassy Theater and comes to America two days later. Overall the movie makes a massive 1,119,110,941 dollars. At the time it is the second most grossing movie of all time and is now the fifth, surpassed only by Avatar, Titanic, Harry Potter and Trasformers. Video games flood the market and Tolkiens epic tale dominates our time.
However, all great things must come to an end. Now LOTR has faded into obscurity with no new content coming out. This changes with Jackson returning to middle earth for the two part movie: The Hobbit, and Tolkien's tale has returned to the gaming world with a new story of an elf, a man and a dwarf, not in Rohan, but in the north. Thus we have "LOTR: The War in the North."

The story is you are either a Dwarf champion a Human ranger or an Elf Lore-master. You travel to Bree to inform Aragorn of a recent attack you witness (but were not part of because you were in the bushes looking for you're contact and not hiding like a little girl). This attack you tell the future king of Gondor was lead by an evil man with an aura of malice about him. Aragorn informs you that he needs a distract for a little escort mission he is doing and tells to go to Fornost to attack the orcs there. While there who should you find but the same guy observed bushes a few days ago: Agandar. the story continues as you trek across the north in hopes of defeating Agandar and restoring peace to the north.

The first thing that should be noted is The War in the North's (or TWN as I will call it in this review) rating. This is the first mature rating anything Middle Earth has every gotten and it does indeed deserve that rating. While you won't find and nudity of cursing of any kind, the combat is quite visceral with most executions resulting in decapitations and delimbings. That said it should known that the combat in TWN is good, it's not Arkam City but it is still fun. The combat may get repetitive to some but I didn't have that problem. And that is the most important thing about a combat RPG right? that the combat is fun and exciting. Sure it might be hard as crap to revive an ally when you've got two trolls in the room and it might just be tapping the X button until a little yellow blip appears on the top of the enemies head which will let you really mix up the combat by pressing the Y button to do a big critical hit but it is still fun and it is middle earth.

If you have seen the movies and not read the books then there is a lot of stuff your missing out on. Tolkien provides a massive amount of lore and back story for this universe that Jackson just couldn't go into. That extra content has been put in TWN. It won't hold all the stuff content as all of Tolkien's books but it is a step in the right direction. As well the weapons in this game are fantastic. I love finding a weapon and saying "ha this is an awesome weapon. I'll never get rid of it." only to be throwing it away after finding something better, and that happens a lot in TWN, so I was happy.

With all of this said i need to say that TWN is a fun game however there were a few things wrong actually quite a few. The first and largest flaw that TWN boast are the characters. These are some of the flattest I've ever seen and have about as much personality as a goldfish. This was a great disappointment because LOTR was a great drama. I cried when Gandalf died. I rejoiced when he came back I cheered for Aragorn as he returned at the battle of Minis Tirith and later when he became king. I cared for those characters but i don't care for these. In fact the only character i connected with was the giant talking eagle you could call in for air support.

This was an RPG which means killing enemies, gaining experience, and leveling up. In Oblivion whenever I got that message that I should probably rest I always freaked out. "I need to find a bed!" I would exclaim as I rushed to find the nearest cot or mattress. Why? Because leveling up was fun and exciting. That doesn't really exist in TWN. Leaving up didn't seem to hold any real value to me. The skills you could unlock just didn't excite me which was a big loss for this game. 

The begs to played in multiplayer. You can't switch back and forth between on the fly but instead can do it between each chapter. This makes it difficult to equip your party. I played as the dwarf enjoying to just run at the enemy and bash their skulls in like pinatas until the black licorice blood came oozing out. By the time I was done i looked like a tank with awesome armor and weapons, but ran into a problem with distributing equipment. When you get an item you can sell it equip it or give it to your ally. There is no way to tell if that item is better or worse than what your party already has and if you give it to a AI ally it's gone and you won't get it back. I just chose to take the safe path and give all the equipment I wasn't using away to my buds, but then I had to make a choice of which one to give it to and that just made it even more confusing.

Overall TWN was a good game with multiple endings and it even had a dragon in it (bonus points). The villain wasn't voice well in my opinion but he was still a strait up bad-ass. While the main characters were had as much depth as a cup-holder, the combat though possibly repetitive was still fun. The greatest thing TWN has is all the lore it contains. I went around to all the characters and talked to them learning about Middle Earth and it's rich history. If you are a LOTR nut you'll want to pickthis up. If not you might want to pick it up later after the big games come out and you play them. Modern Warfare 3 hits shelves tomorrow and Skyrim is this Friday. So conserve your money now and later on maybe when your done with those you can pick up TWN for a few bucks less.


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