Review: Lord of the Rings: War in the North (Xbox 360)

By Wayne Webb

Lord of the Rings: War in the North is an action and role playing game that is parts of both, but a whole of neither. Set alongside the main story from the Tolkien books, this is a campaign led by three disparate characters that takes on a quest from Aragorn himself to battle a menace in the North while the real fellowship carries out the destruction of the ring.

An Elf, a Ranger and a Dwarf battle alongside one another to complete this quest. If you have friends masochistic enough to want to sit through this slow and grinding game of endless numbing fights then you can play co-operatively. Otherwise the AI takes over and then does some odd things in fighting, but is very handy in the reviving stakes. Each character has strengths and weaknesses and you’re best picking one and sticking with it the whole way through. It’s not a simple task to swap around and when you do there is no auto levelling up of characters so you start on the back foot each time you swap.

The story involves a powerful minion of Sauron, amassing a secret army in the north of Middle Earth and off you go to find out what he’s up to and to stop him. You have two companions, he has an army of thousands, and you’ll get to fight each and every one of them in wave after wave of cannon fodder walking in your range.

The basic concept:

  1. Advance the story via only one way possible and
  2. Get stuck battling loads of bad-guys and
  3. When you win – move in one direction and
  4. Repeat – ad infinitum until you get to a boss, which at least provides some challenge.

The voice acting is flat and unexciting, which is a shame as a good story could have made up for the gameplay and made me want to see it out. After about the first third of the main story, it was just too tiresome and unfulfilling to progress much further. I kept struggling on, but didn’t care.

The biggest criticism (which is both unfair and true) is that this is not Skyrim. This feels old and out of date compared to the massive and innovative world and play system of Skyrim which came out at the same time.

Pros: Good side story to LOTR; fun for fans
Cons: Repetitive battling; linear story and progression; bored acting; odd AI teammates; old hat style and approach.

2 Shacks Out Of 5