Torchlight and a few other standouts aside, the Xbox 360 isn't well-known for
gore-splattered dungeon crawls. This might be the reason Warner Bros took Snowblind - developer of the enjoyable Champions of Norrath - and gave it the dormant Lord of the Rings license, plus a few oceans of blood to smear all over it.
This is the first Lord of the Rings game with a PEGI 18 rating and it earns it - limbs fly, blood spatters and corpses ooze. War In The North places you in the greaves of one of three characters (a ranger, a dwarf warrior and a magic-casting elf) and throws you against Sauron's Lieutenant AgandaŻr and his dark hordes.
This all takes place in parallel with the original Lord of the Rings storyline, starting from the Prancing Pony and leading up to the eventual fall of Sauron - albeit on the opposite side of Middle-earth.
The game is basic in its execution - hit your enemies with weapons or shoot them at range with arrows or spells, levelling up as you go and getting better gear and abilities. As you strike them more, you can hit Y for a critical strike, tearing limbs from your foes. While wholly enjoyable as a single-player game, co-op mode - either online or split-screen - is a great laugh, especially at the harder difficulties which require a little more forethought and strategy.
War in the North at no point pretends to be anything more than an epic and borderline two-dimensional slug-fest through hordes of similar enemies. It's repetitive, but Snowblind has honed the experience to something surprisingly addictive. Though seven hours of bloody entertainment, War in the North is a safely made game. Combat is fun and meaty, weapons have a satisfying crunch, the world is beautiful, but it never tries to do more than its genre has done before.
While New Game+ lets you restart the adventure with all of your gear and experience, there's not much variation to the storyline, and the light RPG conversations add little in the grand scheme of things. That said, if you're aching for a solid, fun co-op game, War in the North might be worth a stab.
Enjoyable, if hollow, ring-bearing slashery
- Satisfying, addictive combat
- Beautiful game-world
- Relatively enjoyable story
- Breaks absolutely no boundaries