The Average Gamer

Lord of The Rings: War In The North Review (360)

War in the North, should you believe the blurb “is a co-op Action RPG that immerses you and your friends in a brutal new chapter in the War of the Ring”. It’s similar in level design to previous titles where you work through each area bashing trolls and orcs until you reach a set piece.

These err towards bashing a bigger troll (or orc) and so you rinse and repeat through ever more gloomy environments. The RPG elements are present in a skill tree but this is limited. If you’re used to more traditional RPG fodder they probably wouldn’t be enough to entice.


What should be a reasonably simple premise of three main characters to alternate between is made painfully clumsy by this game. There’s no swapping between them on the fly and theoretically you only get the option to do so at the end of each stage. Thankfully you can wait for a save symbol and quit to the menu before loading one of the other characters to level them up but seriously, I shouldn’t have to.

Co-op wise… at least someone else is leveling up for you. Should you want to play with your friends you’ll need to make sure your characters are on a similar stage as there’s no balancing available. The host of the game has everyone pulled to their last save point.

This resulted in Lewis’ Ranger getting smeared indelicately across a parapet for several attempts before we gave up and changed over. We then ended up with my mage melting everything in sight with a single shitty look. It’s possible that there’s an ingenious menu option to solve this but I’m damned if I could find it. On the plus side there’s hopefully a bit of common sense being used by your team mates. This was in short supply at several points during the single player campaign and would be more than enough motivation for me to wheedle my friends into participating.

It’s not that the single player campaign is bad, it’s just really, really, really repetitive. At first the satisfying death blows and spinning about the place (mostly) elegantly is entertaining. As it slowly dawns that twirly limb chopping is all that’s on the menu for the rest of the game it can be hard to summon the motivation to keep trying the more difficult fights. The varied drops help a little but your companions appear to be massive loot whores; you pass kit to them and then when you switch characters at a later point it will generally have vanished. For those of us that enjoy a little retail therapy it can be quite frustrating to be constantly broke!


War in the North was a very brave attempt, being a fantasy RPG releasing in roughly the same time frame as Skyrim. Sadly it doesn’t come across as being nearly as polished. I love Lord of The Rings but this game doesn’t do it justice at all.

Levels are just stand offs against waves of enemies, that is when you aren’t running around delivering necklaces for bored townsfolk. I’m supposed to be helping save the world. No, I won’t get your fucking necklace fixed and tell someone you love them because you don’t have the balls.

Co-op doesn’t really make this game any better. Where most co-op games tend to abandon levels altogether or at least have a decent balancing system, LotR: WitN leaves you behind to rot. Quickly jumping into someone else’s game who is further ahead repeatedly sees you turned into troll chow and popping into a game that is set at a lower level will see you bored senseless. My advice is to leave this for the bargain bin and save your money for the inevitable Lego: LotR now that they own the licence. Or better yet, go play Skyrim.


Coming from playing fantasy games almost exclusively on PC I wasn’t sure what to expect from War In The North on the Xbox 360. One of the things that did stand out was the sheer level of violence in some of the game’s finishing moves.

In single-player mode, the AI will play the other characters for you so you don’t have to worry about having friends. I found the initial story line pretty strong, and very well tied into the books. During the game, the computer’s AI wasn’t too bad yet still tended to charge into things without real strategy. I’m a sneaky ranged thief player and it frustrated me when the dwarf ran straight into a large group of enemies.

When I was level 4, my single player time was interrupted by an invite from Pippa to try out the multi-player facilities of the game. Pippa was already level 10. I’m not totally sure how the game scaled the instances but it was clear I was quite unprepared for what occurred. Having only played for a little, and being such a low level meant I became the favourite kill toy for the bad guys.

Thankfully you can resurrect people just by holding A for a little time while next to them. This lead to a few group wipes because we died close to one of the major bad guys and it was impossible for one person to resurrect without being hit on.

A tip here; if you are ranged, stay ranged! Now this was the one bit that almost made me quit. Having to redo the same battle again and again was very frustrating.

In Summary

War in the North is an average kind of game. Not dreadful, not awesome. Combat flows nicely in and of itself and the pace of each stage is good, although, at times overwhelming. There are a good few hours of entertainment here but it would have been vastly improved had they worked on certain game design elements, specifically the cumbersome character swaps which ruin any kind of Middle Earth immersion.

The novelty of being able to summon a chuffing huge eagle isn’t enough to convince us that the asking price of £40 is worth it. However, if you’re a fan of the LOTR franchise and it’s on sale somewhere you could do worse.

Dwarf tossing is optional.

Lord of The Rings: War in The North is available now on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.

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