Eradan, the human ranger, drew back his bowstring and
unleashed a flurry of arrows at the charging orcs. His shots hit their target,
though the foes continued to rush. Some stopped to fire off ranged attacks of
their own, but their missiles bounced harmlessly off the elven Loremaster
Andriel’s protective magical shield. Finally, once they were close enough, the dwarven
champion Farin met them on the field of battle, hacking apart the orcs. He spun
around, slicing down the smaller goblins in a powerful swing, before finishing
off the larger enemies with the help of his allies. As their bodies fell in a
heap of blood and limbs a large, angry troll burst out from behind a cave wall.
It took the combined forces of all three warriors (and the aid of a giant eagle,
summoned by the trio) to take him down.
All right, now repeat that for about ten hours. Roll
Above: We're hoping for a spinoff entitled "Eradan: Blood on the Ice."
War in the North is an unorthodox Lord of the Rings game.
While it takes place during the events in the books and the film (and uses
materials from both), it doesn’t actually follow the fellowship carrying the
ring to Mordor. Instead, it tells the tale of a band of three warriors fighting
an important battle in the northern regions of Middle Earth against Sauron's
top lieutenant, Agandaur.
While the narrative isn’t that strong and the characters
aren’t incredibly well developed, War in the North has several features that
help make us feel connected to the world and our characters. It features fairly
typical dialog trees like those found in Mass Effect, but instead of pushing us
into making moral choices, they let us decide how immersed our characters are
in the Lord of the Rings lore. We got to choose whether or not our characters
knew other popular icons of Middle Earth like Bilbo, Gandalf, and Legolas with
simple dialog choices, as well as deciding how much they know about the world
itself. When someone says that the party is to travel to Mirkwood we could
either inquire about the details of the location or spout them off ourselves –
it’s an interesting choice, and one that paid off.
Above: That goblin is going to go flying through the air.
In order to stop Agandaur, we needed to join a fellowship of
our own, made up of Eradan, a human ranger, Andriel, the elven Loremaster, and
Farin, the dwarven Champion. As we leveled up we not only leveled up the
character we played as, but the other characters as well, and we had the option
to switch between them whenever we started the game – an option we never really
took advantage of, but appreciated the existence of.
We preferred to stick to
one character and travel through both well-known and often forgotten areas of
Middle Earth while chopping apart foes. And when we say chopping apart, we mean
chopping apart. Another way War in the North sets itself apart is with its
rating: it’s the only M-rated Lord of the Rings game to date and features brutal,
bloody violence. Heads, arms, and legs are sliced off, and blood will often
coat the characters after a battle.