It does the name well.
The Lord of the Rings: War in the North is one of the most poorly timed released games I can think of in recent history. Releasing a game between BF3, MW3, Uncharted 3 and TeS: Skyrim is like making a game and then figuratively shooting it in the foot. Sadly that is the most news worthy thing about this title and that’s not saying that this game isn’t good, because it is, good.
The game play in War of the North starts out on the wonky side. You cannot run at all, only a slight jog and there is no jumping except for so few scripted jumps they don’t count. I personally found myself rolling everywhere simply because it gave a slight speed boost. Once you get used to the movement and controlling scheme things make a huge turn for the better though. Getting down the timing and feel for dodging attacks and ripping a few blade slices or arrows in an orcs head before you get smashed by a giant axe or charging troll is an immensely rewarding feeling. They have done a great job of finding the blend where you are satisfied with the complexity of combat but are not frustrated by it.
Adding on to the fact the game play itself is pretty good the story is also competent. Being able to pull from the LOTR lore obviously makes it a bit easier but the way they tie it in so closely with the events of the books or movies was great. You essentially are battling the entire time the “fellowship of the ring” is trying to destroy the ring just in different locations all the while still fighting the good fight. After you get time to get into the game a little more the dialog and slight role play text selection is a welcome feature as you are able to delve a little deeper in to what’s going on. The voice acting doesn’t add anything special as it’s just average but it doesn’t ruin anything either.
The tech that Snowblind used in War in the North is decent. It does what it needs to do most quite well, but is lacking in a few certain areas. Some textures are shoddy and most of the shadows are pretty gross. But the important stuff like orcs, trolls, dragons, gear and combat animations look quite nice. Seeing some of those trolls bust through a wall and hearing them roar with that wrenching sound we all know from the movies is great. On that note the sound in this game is one of the best features, blood gurgling, arrows whishing away from you and orcs screaming their last breath are fantastic additions. The blood in this game is yet another big plus along with decapitations and fantastic ranged head shots, with all the arrows staying in your target until they die. Seeing those giant trolls just littered with arrows as they bleed out is awesome.
War in the North is a solid game, it could be a little better but easily worth a 12 or so hour play through, especially if you are a fan of The Lord of the Rings. Snowblind has a done a great job of transferring that feeling we got from the books and movies into a video game. It is too bad this game came out surrounded by AAA releases though. It doesn’t deserve all the praise in the world but more than it is getting and I fear the lack of public enthusiasm due to lack of awareness might harm the future of this specific franchise within a franchise and organization when in fact they are doing things the right way.