Personal Rating: "Worth playing"
Traditional Rating: 7/10
Genre: Action Role Playing Adventure
Lord of the Rings: War in the North returns us to Middle Earth but not from the perspectives of any of the important characters in the original tale but with three characters specifically created for the game as their story runs parallel to the plot of the original books and films, often intersecting at various pivotal points in the saga as they play their part in winning the war against Sauron.
The story on display here actually turns out to be a rather good one and is very well written and impeccably voiced with a talented voice cast that do the script and the characters justice. Getting to choose between one of three characters - the dwarf Farin, the ranger Eradan or the mage Andriel - the story places you immediately into the believable world that is Middle Earth so expertly brought to life by Peter Jackson in his Lord of the Rings Trilogy. The game even ensures that key characters almost resemble their film counterparts so as to tie in with the trilogy. It's a pity that they could not get the voice actors to reprise their roles digitally but I can only imagine getting the likes of Sir Ian, Liv Tyler and Cate Blanchet would have cost a pretty penny, so whilst it does sound a bit odd to have these characters voiced by different actors they do a sterling job nonetheless.
War in the North plays out like any traditional hack and slash title on the market and offers players the chance to co-op with all three major characters. Playing this in co-op, both myself and my co-op partner found it to be a blast. It's for the most part well made and it looks rather good. Some have complained about imbalances between the three main protagonists (something that doesn't really bother me in the slightest and was certainly only marginally noticeable) and I have heard that the game repeatedly crashes on AMD hardware so be warned about this one if you plan on picking this up. There are also some game crunching bugs on display that sometimes made us have to restart a section because one of us either got locked out an area or were blocked by some invisible wall. Thankfully it was not large swathes of the game we needed to repeat before continuing with the journey.
I had a rather enjoyable time with this release from Snowblind Studios (makers of the recent FPS reboot of Syndicate and the Chronicles of Riddick) and it never overstayed its welcome either running at a pert 14hrs before coming to an end. I would highly recommend you get some friends in on the action with this one as it can be a lot of fun with the right mates. I found this to be a relatively entertaining diversion and whilst it certainly was never meant to win any awards, what it does - it does admirably well and I found myself actually having a lot of fun with it. Worth picking up and playing when the game goes on sale.