Lord of the Rings: War in the North (PC, X360, PS3)
As insane as it sounds, I think this is the first LOTR game I've ever played. And it was good. It wasn't without some major flaws though. I didn't actually beat the game because of one of those. We'll get to that later.
Story: The story, from what I could tell, takes place parallel to the three books/movies. You play as one of three characters who travel together. Throughout the story, you hear about a fellowship of 9 traveling with the Ring of Power, but don't encounter them. At least not up to chapter 3. This review is going to be somewhat incomplete because I've only played until about half way through the third chapter. The story hasn't been as enganging to me as it has been to Neuntoter, simply because I'm not as big of a LOTR fan as he is. There's a lot of dialog filling in the story, but, in truth, I didn't really go through a lot of it. It's just not that interesting to me. This isn't really an issue with the game itself as it is with me not being a LOTR fan, which is definitely who this game is aimed at.
Gameplay: This is definitely where I had more fun with the game. The gameplay is solid and interesting. There are three characters to play as. They definitely mirror the “big 3” being an obvious Warrior, Rogue, and Mage although they don't specifically go by these names. They are referred to as the Champion, Ranger, and Lore-Master, but easily fit the classic roles. I'm not saying this is a negative thing though. Games like WoW and to an extent, Guild Wars have shown me that breaking these 3 into more specialized classes don't always make a game better. The game is more or less a hack-n-slash kind of game with some RPG elements. You learn skills that get better with levels and earn stat points as you level. There are also plenty of options for equipment. There are also special sets of gear you get for pre-orders and for purchasing the game at select retailers. This equipment seems way too powerful however. I got this game at Best Buy and got the Lore-Master set. I was able to equip it all at the end of chapter 1 and have yet to replace any of it up until chapter 3. That may not seem like a long time, but these chapters are LONG. This added on top of the fact that I haven't even seen any gear that I would even consider wearing over my OP'ed pre-order stuff. I don't see any of it getting replaced soon. There's two major complaints I have about the gameplay. First, the characters, while fitting their archtypes for an RPG, all play kinda same-y. As I said, I've been using the Mage-type character and still find myself using melee a lot and doing decent damage with it. Likewise, the Warrior-type character, who is clearly designed for melee, still does big damage at long range. It's not a big deal, but after switching between the three, I'm just not seeing huge differences in playstyles. Second, cheap enemies. There has been more than one occasion where an enemy has an uninteruptable combo that is capable of killing any party member and seems to be an AOE attack that can hit multiple players. The first instance of this occurred in chapter 2 I think. An enemy had some kind of spinning slash attack that was able to kill me as a dwarf (highest hp char) in a single hit from full hp as well as catching my Ranger at the same time who ran at him from the side. This was followed up by the same combo aimed at our Lore-Master who also died instantly. This has happened many more times than it should and I'm not even half way through this game yet.
Lastly. The reason I have not completed this game. I have the PC version of this game and for some reason, on some multicore CPU's, the game takes up ridiculous amounts of processing power. Starting in chapter 3, all maps force my CPU to stay at a consistent 99%. I have a Phenom I, but the most powerful AM2+ Phenom I that existed. This isn't an isolated issue either. There are several Phenom II machines as well as i5/i7 machines that suffer from this as well. 99% is not an acceptable CPU usage rate to be at constantly and as such, I am done with this game until a fix comes out. I can't say I don't recommend this game, but if possible I'd say go with a console version.
Partial playthrough scores:
PC: 5/10 (until a fix is released)
UPDATE: I'm fixing the PC score of this since the CPU issue has been corrected, but there's another issue now with levels not being passable due to a bug. It doesn't always happen, but as far as I can tell, it only affects the PC version. So the score still stays lower than the console version.