The Lord of the Rings: War in the North Review
Xbox 360 | PS3 | PC
The Lord of the Rings: War in the North Box Art
System: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Dev: Snowblind Studios
Pub: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Release: November 1, 2011
Players: 1-3
Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p Blood and Gore, Intense Violence

And though many of the landscapes look great—seeing the Barrow-Downs for the first time is incredible, as is descending into the orc-infested halls of Mount Gundabad—there are visual glitches everywhere, pretty much killing the experience. I played the PS3 version of the game and experienced several places where the animations got choppy to the point that it felt like I was playing a PC game on an incredibly underpowered system. The worst offenders happened during outdoors scenes when it was snowing; perhaps the detailed snow, when coupled with the large quantity of orcs and trolls, was a bit too much of a strain on the PS3's processor.

The Lord of the Rings: War in the North Screenshot

Audio was a bit glitchy as well. There was one scene in particular where a sound of a chain on a pulley system got stuck in an infinite loop, increasing in volume until it drowned out everything else in the game. I had to restart the game in order to fix it (and give my poor ears a rest.) A similar thing happened with some warg howls later in the game; the audio got stuck on a loop and required a restart before the wargs would stop their obnoxious yowling.

War in the North had enormous amounts of potential with the Lord of the Rings license. The fact that it wasn't set to correspond with any film release meant that the development team had a little more leeway to stretch their legs and make a product superior in to any generic movie tie-in. However, it feels like the developers grinned like giddy schoolchildren after acquiring the license, then just couldn't think of anything at all to do with it. War in the North could have succeeded if it had a decent story, some interesting characters, a deep Diablo-esque loot system, epic boss battles, or even some decent enemy variety. It has not a single one of these things.

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The game shares a launch month with two of the highest profile RPGs of this console generation (Skyrim and Skyward Sword), and is here only a month after The Lord of the Rings Online released a major expansion that took players to iconic Isengard. Considering the games it's contending with right now, War in the North doesn't even deserve to be on your radar.

By Josh Wirtanen
CCC Editor / Contributing Writer

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
3.2
Graphics
Some of the backgrounds look great, but creepy character faces, choppy animations, and a long list of visual glitches hider the experience.
3.5
Control
Decent hack-and-slash controls, but navigating menus is incredibly counterintuitive.
2.3
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Forgettable music, glitchy sound effects, and weak voice acting with poor use of reverb and echo effects.
2.2
Play Value
There's a fair amount of content here, but it's tedious and repetitive enough that you won't want to play it for very long.
2.6
Overall Rating - Average
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
Review Rating Legend
0.1 - 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 3.5 - 3.9 = Good 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair 4.0 - 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Create your own Fellowship ‐ Together, players and their friends will experience an epic, story‐based adventure through vast Middle‐earth to experience storylines and characters going beyond what has been seen in the feature films and previous games.
  • Play as a team or perish! ‐ Social play is redefined through groundbreaking online, interdependent co‐op gameplay which enables three different gamers to play as a complementary group where individual skills enhance the success of each team member.
  • Brutal Gameplay ‐ The Lord of the Rings: War in the North is the first M‐rated The Lord of the Rings game on the market, authentically derived from The Lord of the Rings lore and delivering on action RPG principles.
  • Intricate Character Customization from RPG Powerhouse – Players choose from three playable races: Human, Elf, or Dwarf. Extensive customization allows for meaningful and rewarding RPG gameplay including established loot and reward systems. Snowblind's history and credibility as an action/RPG gameplay studio makes them the perfect choice for creating an epic LOTR RPG.
  • Original Social Storyline ‐ Players will experience an original storyline created especially for the social, collaborative three‐player experience established within J.R.R. Tolkien's lore and approved by the J.R.R. Tolkien estate.
  • Challenge Missions ‐ Special missions consist of defensive positioning and group raids for up to 3 players, built especially for co‐op challenges and not tied to the story.

  • Screenshots / Images
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