It's not fair. Frodo, Gandalf, Aragorn, and the rest of the fellowship get all the glory, but without the brave struggles of so many others, they never could have succeeded on their vital errand. The Lord of the Rings: War in the North tells the tale of three new heroes who helped make the fellowship's success possible, and it gives you much of what you'd want from a hack-and-slash role-playing game set in Middle-earth. There's plenty of great loot to collect, a number of powerful abilities to acquire, and tons of orcs and cave trolls to slay. Unfortunately, these bright spots only make it that much more disappointing when frustrations arise and overshadow this heroic adventure, as they so often do.
6343665NoneFarin gets knocked down, but he gets up again. You're never gonna keep him down.
Andriel of Rivendell; Eradan of the Dunedain rangers; and Farin, champion of Erebor, are thrown together by war and join forces. This union of elves, dwarves, and men sets out to foil the evil forces of Agandaur, a servant of the dark lord Sauron whose schemes threaten free peoples residing far from the conflicts in Rohan and Gondor. The story is typical, but it provides an excuse to send you to creepy barrows, snowy mountains, dwarven mines, and other places that evoke the atmosphere of the Lord of the Rings films. And fans of J.R.R. Tolkien's books will appreciate appearances by characters from the novels that were left out of the movies.
Regardless of which hero you select, your basic abilities in battle are the same. You have light and heavy melee attacks and a ranged attack. After enemies suffer some damage, a symbol indicates that they're vulnerable to a critical strike, and performing a heavy attack at this moment does extra damage and may sever some limbs, even if you're wielding a dull staff. The sight of limbs flying and black blood spilling brings some grim satisfaction to the combat, but that satisfaction is too often lost in frustration. In the early hours, you don't have enough abilities for combat to stay interesting for long, but you still have to fight wave after wave of similar enemies. Flawed collision detection results in some attacks that appear to hit without causing damage, as well as some attacks that don't appear to hit yet knock off a chunk of your life. And certain early enemies, like the self-destructive goblin sappers, do so much damage that you might spend way too much time crawling around on the ground, waiting to be revived by one of your fellow party members.
War in the North utilizes a revival system similar to that seen in Gears of War and numerous other games; when your health is depleted, one of your companions needs to get near you and hold down a button for a few seconds. Then you hop back on your feet, good as new. Enemies awkwardly stop attacking you and just stand around once you go down on your knees, though they mercilessly attack those who come close in an attempt to rescue you. When you're trying to revive a downed companion, you may find him or her surrounded by enemies whose attacks knock you to the ground for a few seconds. This isn't an enjoyable challenge to overcome, and it can make reviving your companion before he or she dies all but impossible. When you fail and are forced to restart, you often find that you've been set back considerably and need to replay surprisingly lengthy and difficult sections. There's no option to save manually, so you're at the mercy of the game's infrequent autosaves.
The only good troll is a dead troll.