The Lord of the Rings: War in the North
Gamescom 2010: The Lord of the Rings: War in the North First Impressions - My Precious
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While the Lord of the Rings has enjoyed critical and commercial success both in literary and celluloid form, it is fair to say that when it comes to games, things have never quite taken off in the same way. A series of sub par offerings have graced our screens, culminating with the rather woeful LOTR: Conquest on our own fair console. Hopefully War in the North will offer a unique change in both concept and fortunes.

Developer Snowblind Studios have been granted unprecedented access to material from both the film series and novels, not to mention the fact that they are also working closely with the Tolkien estate to ensure they have full approval for every aspect of the game. Clearly, they are aiming to deliver the most in-depth Middle Earth experience to date and, considering the source material on offer, there is no reason to think that this game will be anything less than a faithful representation.

While the Fellowship were busy wandering down to Mordor, the Dark Lord Sauron also sent a vast army to invade the Northlands. That is where you come in, as you and a band of likeminded heroes set out to stem the tide of foes swarming over the land. The level we were shown at this year’s Gamescom was a mountainous stretch of woodland, and the graphics at the moment look jaw-dropping with some lush vistas and wide open spaces to explore. The environments are not exactly what you and I call an open world, but the developers were keen to show off that each level would have a variety of areas to explore, with a number of hidden paths and out of the way secrets along the way; not to mention a variety of ways to approach each challenge. Also present is the ability to cut a bloody swathe through your enemies, with the gore and violence of the films being front and centre to the action.

At its core, War in the North is a third person hack-and-slash affair, although depending on your character and skills, you can also expect access to ranged combat and magic should that float your boat. You have overriding objectives to accomplish in each mission, as well as a number of minor objectives such as finding a specific item or killing a certain boss. In the section on show, there were three main races to utilise, though everyone was strangely tight lipped when asked whether there would be others. Obviously, we had a doughty dwarf warrior, a nimble elven ranger and a hardy human mage. However, don’t think that your favourite race may have been type cast, as all races can dabble in any form of combat as long as they carry the correct equipment.

Each race has a range of unique abilities and skills to choose from, with the experience gained from combat going towards opening up even more powerful attributes. As a basic example, humans can harvest local plant life to create potions, elves can track hidden footprints to discover secret areas and dwarves can detect weak rocks to mine for gold or find secret passages.

The trio romped through the forest, felling Orcs with neat combo attacks and a variety of magic. The elf and dwarf could also quickly pull out a bow and unleash destruction from afar, not to mention players could team up for devastating tag attacks usually resulting in a brutal finishing move. The execution moves on offer vary depending on the foe and the weapon you are currently using, but suffice it to say that they usually result in the scenery being redecorated in a tasteful hint of brain. Enemies offer a variety of loot, in a system similar to that of Borderlands et al, and it is up to you whether to horde it all for yourself or share the wealth amongst your team.

You can also use the racial abilities to find out of the way piles of swag and shortcuts too. Come the end of the level the team had to pull together to tackle two giant Rock Trolls, who seemed to smack the gang about with relative ease until they really started to pour the heavy attacks on. It all ran very smoothly with only the odd frame rate hitch slowing things up, and the combination of combat, questing and levelling should be an intriguing one indeed.

With three players able to combine online, or some two player split-screen action if you have a friend on hand, then you can expect this to be a very popular co-op game indeed. You can also play things through solo with two A.I. buddies to back you up should you so desire, and your friends can always jump in or out of the game at any given time.

On the whole, things are certainly looking promising, as the license should really allow the game to go in any direction they choose – and the combination of co-op play, RPG elements and loot has already proven as successful formula. If the core gameplay can be kept entertaining and the missions can take on a variety of locations and objectives, then there is no reason why this won’t be... precious?

Expect some tag-team Orc slaying at some point in 2011.


User Comments

Forum Posts: 128
Comment #1 by dark wing
Saturday, August 28, 2010 @ 09:12:52 AM
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First time i've heard of this sounds okay but i've never really liked Lord of the Rings.

Forum Posts: 1720
Comment #2 by UNDERWALLY
Saturday, August 28, 2010 @ 09:16:29 AM
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Looks great! And I love games with local coop (online coop sucks)

Forum Posts: 6
Comment #3 by LateralusDSOTM
Saturday, August 28, 2010 @ 09:17:47 AM
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I really like the LOTR films, but they get slated a lot by people i know..shame.

Forum Posts: 9
Comment #4 by kikdyoassg
Saturday, August 28, 2010 @ 09:39:34 AM
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its gunna be awsome period

Forum Posts: 144
Comment #5 by gerowniko
Saturday, August 28, 2010 @ 09:44:19 AM
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Sounds good, I hope there will be a gameplay trailer soon.

Forum Posts: 3
Comment #6 by Skar46137
Saturday, August 28, 2010 @ 09:58:43 AM
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Lord of the Rings is ok, not really interested in the games though, unless i can play as one of the orcs and kill some pansy little elves.

Forum Posts: 36
Comment #7 by Uncle Bum Beard
Saturday, August 28, 2010 @ 10:04:38 AM
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@2 How does online coop suck?

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #8 by Risktheworld
Saturday, August 28, 2010 @ 10:19:06 AM
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looks ok, would like some form of silmarillion game as the lotr time section keeps getting done again and again.

Forum Posts: 9
Comment #9 by CaptainSmilez
Saturday, August 28, 2010 @ 10:47:02 AM
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@ #2 There is going to be online coop for sure. Don't know 100% if there is going to be local coop or not. Also, online coop doesn't suck.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #10 by JMWZ
Saturday, August 28, 2010 @ 11:14:43 AM
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@#9 It does for sure have local co-op. It sucks, because you have to play with a whole bunch of 10-year olds. If its local, you get to play with family and friends, and actually interact with them.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #11 by CheesyToast111
Saturday, August 28, 2010 @ 11:39:35 AM
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Wait until I see some gameplay first the only LoTR games I have really liked have been the Battle for Middle Earth ones anyway.

Forum Posts: 17
Comment #12 by FuriousAli007
Saturday, August 28, 2010 @ 11:47:14 AM
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It looks hideous.

Forum Posts: 9
Comment #13 by GaminFanatic
Saturday, August 28, 2010 @ 12:05:20 PM
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Sounds good to me, another game for me to look forward to.

Forum Posts: 466
Comment #14 by Bubble Supreme
Saturday, August 28, 2010 @ 12:09:56 PM
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Nice, looking forward to this.

Forum Posts: 4
Comment #15 by Fata1Stryke
Saturday, August 28, 2010 @ 12:23:19 PM
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Could be good, I'm a fan of third-person action, loot, and local co-op so I have hopes for this.

Forum Posts: 1398
Comment #16 by linktriforce007
Saturday, August 28, 2010 @ 12:33:37 PM
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Is this the MMORPG one?

Forum Posts: 2333
Comment #17 by KNIGHTOFSERA
Saturday, August 28, 2010 @ 01:22:36 PM
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@16 no the MMORPG is already out there and is going from pay to play to free to play soon

this is and "regular" console rpg

Forum Posts: 20
Comment #18 by SHIMA 41
Saturday, August 28, 2010 @ 01:35:15 PM
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awesome :) I love co-op with friends. Will keep my beady eyes on this

Forum Posts: 857
Comment #19 by adz5000
Saturday, August 28, 2010 @ 01:54:48 PM
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I really hope this is amazing because previous LOTR games have let me down and the LOTR films and books are the best thing on the planet !!!

Forum Posts: 72
Comment #20 by Clode101
Saturday, August 28, 2010 @ 01:56:11 PM
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This sounds pretty close to exactly what my gaming collection is lacking. Experience-based action RPG with co-op is exactly what I'm seeking. Split-screen capabilities really up the ante for this as well.

Forum Posts: 1
Comment #21 by siouxsierawx
Saturday, August 28, 2010 @ 02:10:54 PM
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Alot of Potential here, only ever REALLY liked the BFME games but this could be good...

Forum Posts: 4
Comment #22 by Htimsdrof
Saturday, August 28, 2010 @ 02:20:19 PM
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This looks better every time read about it. I'll keep my eye on it in the future.

Forum Posts: 14
Comment #23 by MostWanted47
Saturday, August 28, 2010 @ 02:37:35 PM
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@10 Plenty of non teens play video games, plus that is what a friends list is for :P

Forum Posts: 35
Comment #24 by Hobbes.
Saturday, August 28, 2010 @ 03:08:04 PM
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i get tired of the tiny bit of lag when playing co op online, when u are going against a CPU opponent with no lag it tends to get u killed a lot

Forum Posts: 3
Comment #25 by Sabeythang
Saturday, August 28, 2010 @ 03:26:07 PM
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They shouldn't have cancelled The White Council.

Forum Posts: 1455
Comment #26 by tripleb2k
Saturday, August 28, 2010 @ 03:39:42 PM
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I've never played a LOTR's game because none looked interesting. Conquest did because of the 'Rise of Sauron' campaign but that game was just bad. This on the other hand looks interesting and fun! *fingers crossed* it's not a failure.

Forum Posts: 40
Comment #27 by JGar77
Saturday, August 28, 2010 @ 04:02:42 PM
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These guys are working closely with Tolkien Estate?

I'd consider myself a LotR and Tolkien fanatic, and I must say that LotR video games, the majority of which I own, tend to not only be abysmal, but also often completely deviate from the source material. There is a lot of emphasis on vibrant, obvious, powerful, colorful magic and magical attacks.
There were only ever five real "wizards" in Middle-earth, and while other beings used magic, it always tended to be a much more subtle thing in Tolkien's writing (excepting spells employed by Gandalf in The Hobbit). For example, Aragorn healing Faramir and Eowyn in Minas Tirith, slowly, subtlety, and with the help of Kingsfoil, or the door to Moria only opening by activation of a password, are prime examples of magic in LotR. This game appears that it is headed down the same path as its predecessors, despite working with Tolkien estate. However despite the "mage" class War in the North's admittedly looking good. Meanwhile, I intend to enjoy LotRO on September 10th, undoubtedly the very best of The Lord of the Rings video games, and the one that handles magic the best.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #28 by parallelTom555
Saturday, August 28, 2010 @ 05:03:34 PM
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#12 And you'd know how this looks with the gameplay trailers they haven't released would you?

Game sounds pretty good and I didn't mind The Return Of The King video game but that's about it. The Lord Of The Rings films and novels deserve an amazing game to go with them, fingers crossed this is it.

Forum Posts: 44
Comment #29 by JUBEI PR
Saturday, August 28, 2010 @ 05:48:45 PM
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i hope this game has online achievements so EA can do what they love, shut down the servers after 3 months of its release!! scumbags!

Forum Posts: 21
Comment #30 by Slagar7
Saturday, August 28, 2010 @ 07:25:49 PM
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Wasn't aware of this game coming out, but sounds pretty cool

Forum Posts: 714
Comment #31 by Bajan Elite
Sunday, August 29, 2010 @ 01:21:22 AM
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Can't wait...o and Two Tpwers and Return of the King on the PS2 were awesome games.

Forum Posts: 17
Comment #32 by blinksmilewink
Sunday, August 29, 2010 @ 03:59:41 AM
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@31 I can't belive you're the first to say that - thosegames friggin' rocked!

I do hope this game provides me with hours of fun, seeing as conquest didn't. I can't believe the makers of Battlefront 2 could churn out such crap

Forum Posts: 173
Comment #33 by Epilogue of Euphoria
Sunday, August 29, 2010 @ 11:43:23 AM
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Please, just make it stop!

Forum Posts: 298
Comment #34 by ViNyLek
Monday, August 30, 2010 @ 04:58:17 PM
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That does sound promising an being a fan of both movies and books in LOTR world this will day one buy! I was kind of expecting something different and not 3 preset races to play in mostly linear and co op enviroment, but who am I to complain if there is no decent LOTR games on consoles...

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Game Info


US November 01, 2011
Europe November 25, 2011

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