Moar Co-op – Lord of the Rings: War in the North

[Blaugust Day 4]

Since we’ve completed Dying Light, Lord Crumb and I have moved onto our next co-op game: Lord of the Rings: War in the North. It was released back in 2011 but we only picked it up on sale recently (along with a lot of other co-op games). We’re about 12 hours into the story and we’ve gotten a good sense of what the game is like. Lord Crumb made a comment of how it was a good game that could have been great with some polish, and I pretty much agree with that statement.

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There’s the choice of playing one of three characters: Eradan the male Ranger, Farin the male dwarf, and Andriel the female elf. Lord Crumb chose Farin (because dorf) and I chose Andriel because well…she was the only female character. I was wary about my choice at first since Andriel is a Loremaster caster and I prefer melee characters. However, I soon found out that she’s just as deadly with a staff as she is with spells, and between the stat points and the skill points that I can both distribute how I want, I was able to customize her just the way I wanted.

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I’ve been focusing on melee-styles abilities mostly, things like elemental shockwaves and gaining armor based on her will points. She actually has more armor than Farin right now. Although I did put a bunch of points into a healing bubble that also stops any projectiles from hitting us as long as we’re standing in it. It’s saved our asses quite a few times. The next time we level, I’ll be unlocking the ability to wield a sword along with my staff, much like how Gandalf does. Even with just a staff currently, it’s pretty frequently that I’m removing the limbs and/or heads of my enemies and walking out of battles just covered in blood. Did I mention she wears some awesome-looking, reasonable armor? Because she totally does. Overall, I think she’s pretty badass now.

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The combat style is on the simple side but there’s enough variety that it hasn’t gotten boring yet. There’s a standard melee attack, a heavier one that acts like a combo finisher, ranged attacks, blocking/kicking, rolling/dodging, and three slots for special attacks that can change depending on what you’re doing. And some enemies have different abilities that need to be dealt with: suicide bombers, archers, shields that need to be kicked aside, and vicious attacks that need to be blocked or dodged. One of the more interesting ones is that trolls can try to grab a hold of you and you have the opportunity to thwart that. If you don’t, your face is going to get smashed a lot.

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The best ability comes after we befriended a great eagle. As long as we’re outdoors, we can ask him to swoop down and attack an enemy. They didn’t half-ass it with just a flyby though, they included a complete interaction between the enemy and the eagle, like this troll here.

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Can I just say that I love the Great Eagles? And I’m glad they play a larger part in this story than they did in the movies.

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Speaking of the story, the trio kind of works in the background to aid the Fellowship and even gets to meet some familiar characters.

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And some familiar places.

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For a game that’s a few years old now, the graphics have aged pretty well. With everyone cranked up to high, the scenery can be quite beautiful or atmospheric.

I think if this game had just a little more work, it could have been great. The story has a good base but the characters feel a little flat and have very little development themselves. We’ve hit a lot of invisible walls where it looks like we should be able to go; they certainly could have spent more time on laying the place out better. There’s no room for me to put any special potions onto the hotbar, they need to be accessed through the inventory. For whatever reason, moving the camera feels choppy but there’s no slowdown in FPS so it’s not my computer. The only reason we found out that we could change our characters’ appearances is because Lord Crumb happened to notice a mirror in the Bree inn. The AI that runs Eradan for us isn’t very good so he isn’t really useful, even if he is able to loot his own weapons and armor. And there was one time when Lord Crumb disconnected and was put back in a previous area that was blocked off by a couple closed gates with no way through. We ended up both having to restart the game before our characters were able to join up together again. So while we’re certainly enjoying our playthrough, the game is not without its flaws. I’d recommend waiting until it’s on sale again before getting it and definitely playing with a partner or two, it’s much more fun that way.

4 comments

  1. I remember this from a couple years back! I’m normally quite anal about what LoTR games do with the lore, but in WotN’s case I gladly put those reservations aside. It was just too much fun. Wreaked havoc on my mouse though, especially since I played a dual-wielding Eradan.

    I also remember how I almost made a drinking game out of the game’s plagiarizing of lines from the novels.

    1. Apparently it was the first LotR game after the movies so it wouldn’t surprise me if they totally played up the connection. It is rather neat to have a story that fit so well alongside the Fellowship though.

      1. I think EA’s Battle for Middle-earth games came straight after the trilogy finished its run? And then there was that gratuitous FF knockoff, The Third Age. None were quite as enjoyable as WotN, though.

        WotN reused a lot of book dialogue that didn’t make it into the films. Maybe the devs thought there would be enough movie fans who didn’t read the novels to render the connection not-so-obvious.

        Ah, all this talk of LoTR games is making me think of White Council and its lost potential.

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