The Lord of the Rings: War in the North
Gamescom 2011: Lord of the Rings: War in the North Hands-On Preview - Troll Hunters
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If you swoon at the sight of suave elves, stumpy dwarves or Hobbits with more body hair than King Kong, then this is going to be the game for you. We decided to go hands-on with the most gruesome Lord of the Rings title to date, or so the developers promised us, in a bid to see if we could deal a little death in the Tolkien style.

The events in War in the North directly parallel those of the movie, as pitched battles spring up all across Middle-earth as the forces of Sauron try to gain a foothold wherever they can. So you have a chance to step into the shoes of the brave few attempting to stop this unholy juggernaut from emerging victorious. Obviously one or two more well-known characters are liable to make cameos along the way, but this is very much a new story that is fully approved by the Tolkien estate to become an official part of the overall lore of Middle-earth.

With the ability to play solo, splitscreen or online with drop in/out co-op you can enjoy the game however you see fit too. The AI will fill in the spare slots where required, but we tooled up with two likeminded individuals to take down some bad guys together. After all it’s always more fun to kill with buddies than go it alone.

The usual characters are ready and willing with a doughty dwarf fighter, a nimble elven mage and a boring human ranger. Boo to humans! However, you are never obliged to take a character down a strict path and can tailor them with skills, equipment and abilities how you see fit, which helps stop things from becoming too predictable. Typically we got stuck as a human ranger, but rather than just getting him killed in a fit of pique, we decided to be a team player and do our damnedest to emerge successful.

Each character has heavy and light attacks, as well as the ability to attack from range, plus there are special abilities tied to the bumper buttons – which can provide a range of alternate attacks or buff abilities. Our first job was to loot the surrounding area for swag and acquire some fancy weapons, chests can be searched by each player which prevents one character making off with all the best swag and also means that you can find character specific items. This system prevents the kind of free for all that could be found in titles like Borderlands, and ensures an even dispersal of quality equipment. Navigating the menus lets you quickly upgrade your team as the game helpfully highlights which equipment offers the best bang for your buck, which is handy when you just want to tool up and kick some ass.

Once we were suitably armed we headed into battle against some invading orcs, using nearby catapults to deal with huge siege towers and the enemies that poured forth from within them. The need for teamwork was instantly apparent, as was the challenging difficulty level, as foes can make short work of the newfound fellowship and it is up to the team to heal each other and quickly pick up downed friends. Liberal use of the dodge button was paramount to jump in and out of danger, and just hacking away at the attack buttons is liable to bring a swift death.

After the first wave was out of the way a couple of trolls decided to take umbrage to our awesome defence and set about battering down the doors. We leapt to their defence and using a neat bit of teamwork, some of the flashy special moves and more healing potions than you can shake a stick at we emerged victorious. The whole thing played pretty well, with lovely visuals, an array of skills and interesting combat, it is certainly more engrossing than recent combat RPGs like Hunted et al. When you throw in a bunch of sidequests, moral ramifications to your actions and a quest that spans the whole of Middle-earth then this is potentially the game that fans have been longing for.

If we had any concerns it would be the fact that War in the North may well be fairly short, with a running time of roughly 12 – 15 hours which could be dramatically shortened if you went in with a full team. There were also a few glitches in the enemy AI with some characters getting stuck on scenery and not even reacting when we peppered them with arrows from afar. Hopefully, these are just a few final niggly bugs though, as the idea of a spectacular, co-op Lord of the Rings experience should be too good to pass up.

Expect to be traipsing over mountains, hills and dales with some stolen jewellery come November 2011.


User Comments

Forum Posts: 12
Comment #1 by Epic Gamer Will
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 07:17:23 AM
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LoL angry hobbits xD

Forum Posts: 43
Comment #2 by Walter B Willis
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 07:17:45 AM
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looks promising

Forum Posts: 17
Comment #3 by Neilikki
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 07:40:52 AM
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There is so much games coming out in november...

Forum Posts: 40
Comment #4 by SarDark
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 08:00:34 AM
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Why this seems to me so much suck-filled ?

Forum Posts: 714
Comment #5 by Bajan Elite
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 09:27:06 AM
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@4 Why do you even bother on the article if it seems that way? You just come off as an idiot. Anyway I can't wait to play this.

Forum Posts: 0
Comment #6 by lucasallen
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 09:41:44 AM
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modern gay affair 3!!!!

Forum Posts: 5
Comment #7 by The Sixth Noble
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 09:51:37 AM
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Awesome, can't wait for it

Forum Posts: 51
Comment #8 by Draznar
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 10:55:06 AM
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lol @#6. I've never heard that CoD joke before!

This game looks exciting, but I don't like the 69.99 pricetag my retailers have it at around here.

Forum Posts: 27
Comment #9 by Arawos
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 10:59:19 AM
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could this actually be a xbox lotr title that doesn't fail?! (except BFMEII xbox edition, ofc)

Forum Posts: 70
Comment #10 by Ihazcandy4you
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 01:37:17 PM
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Looks decent..

Forum Posts: 717
Comment #11 by Grummy
Saturday, August 27, 2011 @ 01:45:15 PM
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November 2011....yeah, right, sorry LotR, I love ya, but your gonna be a January-February bargain bin pick up instead. I can't see this getting much traction with Skyrim out in the same window-that's the only RPG that matters now.

Forum Posts: 1213
Comment #12 by UK Dennis
Sunday, August 28, 2011 @ 07:21:21 AM
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I want another BFME game!

Forum Posts: 2
Comment #13 by gamer1535
Sunday, August 28, 2011 @ 10:35:25 AM
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Hello all.

I am a member of the games official site and a regular poster on there. I am also "gamer1535" on there.

Alot of my posts have been around the idea of having a "demo" for this game as although so of its recent articles like this one have been positive about its quality the basic fact is as "grummy" points out is november is a packed month for releases.

I am personally willing though to delay some of those purchases and get this instead if it is good enough.

A good demo and I'd certainly order this game.

I would appreciate some help on WITN's official forums as snowblind it's developers does read the posts and does sometimes post as well.

If you think a "demo" would help then please say so and get any friends to do so as well.

It is on PC, xbox and PS3 so anyone you know who has any of these formats who wants a demo.

Forum Posts: 298
Comment #14 by ViNyLek
Monday, August 29, 2011 @ 04:00:08 PM
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I plan on picking this up early next year and this sounds just like the LOTR I have been waiting for:-)

Forum Posts: 194
Comment #15 by Runny
Monday, September 12, 2011 @ 10:44:59 PM
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this will be a day one buy for me!!! me and 2 friends + beer + this = fun time!

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Game Info


US November 01, 2011
Europe November 25, 2011

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