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Old 5th Dec 2011, 08:49   #1
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Lord of the Rings: War in the North Review

Does War in the North meaningfully expand on Tolkien's work, or is it just a too-late tie-in?

http://www.bit-tech.net/gaming/xbox-...north-review/1
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Old 5th Dec 2011, 10:39   #2
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Two words; Steam Sale.
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Old 5th Dec 2011, 10:41   #3
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Old 5th Dec 2011, 11:12   #4
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Ah dam, I was sort of hoping this was going to be good. Oh well as said above one for the steam sales I suppose.
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Old 5th Dec 2011, 12:57   #5
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I played this at Eurogamer Expo and it was NOT good
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Old 5th Dec 2011, 13:40   #6
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Such a shame that such a rich IP keeps being bent over and rudely thrusted into by cynical publishers or inept developers.

If only the Middle Earth situation had received the kind of attention, time and effort that Skyrim or the other Elder Scrolls have received. It can definitely be done. There have been some godawful Star Wars tat released over the years, but there have also been one or two gems within that. It can be done.
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Old 5th Dec 2011, 14:25   #7
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There have been some godawful Star Wars tat released over the years
*sigh* Remember "Empire at War" ? What an abortion of a game...
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Old 5th Dec 2011, 14:33   #8
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EaW had some fairly glaring flaws, but the space combat was awesome.
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Old 5th Dec 2011, 18:08   #9
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Almost certainly done on the cheap in the knowledge that LotR fans will buy almost anything. As greypilgers said, such a shame that this wasn't made by a competent and interesting developer.
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Old 5th Dec 2011, 18:28   #10
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As usual I find this review extremely vague and non-specific in its complaints, dealing less with particulars and more with subjective emotional impressions.

Quote:
"Matters don't improve on closer inspection either, with dreary sound effects leading into writing that's more tragic than Tolkien-esque."
What is so "dreary" about the sound effects exactly? Why are they dreary? Are there any examples you can turn to? The effects in combat in particular are pretty powerful and make all the weapons feel fun to use, and that's what you're hearing 99% of the time. The rest of the effects are totally fine. What do you expect exactly? Things sound like they should. Is that not enough?

What's wrong with the writing? It keeps to the spirit of the books quite effectively - the lore is surprisingly comprehensive (more so than just about any other Lord of the Rings game) and while it is dry, the same can also be said of Tolkein's books. Can you give any concrete examples of why the writing isn't up to par? What bar are you measuring it by?

Quote:
"Still, even at its best, War in the North struggles to be anything more than average and the nicest compliments we can pay to the graphics are that the game offers stable frame rates and mediocre visuals. Like the game itself, the graphics don't hold up well to much scrutiny, but they compensate in terms of scale; dismembered limbs fly through the air and blood flows freely in the most violent Lord of the Rings game yet. "
What exactly is so mediocre about it? It's not Crysis, sure, but can you offer any specifics? Is there not enough light bloom? Are the textures not high-res enough? Are the shadows blocky? Are there any effects missing? Personally I think the game has great art direction at times that stays extremely close to Peter Jackson's films - it's easily the best videogame representation of his Lord of the Rings so far. Once again I ask: give examples. If I'm to make an informed judgement about the game, as a reader, I need more than that to go on.

Quote:
"In fact, rather than upping the amount of enemies to provide a challenge, later foes have stupid amounts of health instead. Couple this with checkpoint spacing that sometimes sends your party back laboriously far, and latter parts of the game can be infuriating at worst; boring at best."
Checkpoints are pretty consistent throughout the game. The fact that you were apparently having so much trouble with high-level enemies suggests that maybe you were not building your character well. Even so, is challenge a bad thing to have in games now? Or do you just expect to burn through the game reveling in pretty graphics and cutscenes? This is an action-RPG, a lightweight one, but even so it demands more from the player than "I want to press the win button."

The best part about this? Mass Effect 2 was bit-tech's RPG of the Year last year, and if I'm not mistaken (I may be) Game of the Year as well. At the same time, War in the North has a more consistent plot without gaping holes drawing attention to themselves every five minutes, it has deeper combat mechanics, it has more statistics and skills to choose from with more choice in character growth and development, it has more interesting loot with tradeoffs to make, it has more variety in enemies, etc. Yet War in the North, despite being quantifiably better in many respects, is a 5/10 game whereas Mass Effect is Game of the Year.

Now, I know there's a lot more to things - maybe you find the Lord of the Rings setting bland, and the lack of romance options leaves you feeling lonely - but how exactly do you justify such incredible differences in score? I could make the same generic blanket statements about Mass Effect 2 and have an equally "accurate" assessment of the game, yet I'd surely be attacked and ground into the dirt for such an opinion. So why is one acceptable when the other isn't?

Frankly, this is the worst kind of review - the kind that revels in confirmation bias ("it's a licensed game, it must suck!"), and is steeped in nebulous, vague impressions, without any examples or arguments given. Instead of simply being factually wrong, which is something that can be easily spotted and avoided, this article is almost deceptive - it tricks the reader into thinking that an opinion is backed, warranted and justified, but provides absolutely no basis for that opinion in the first place. Sorry, bit-tech, that's not good enough.

Last edited by sear; 5th Dec 2011 at 18:36.
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Old 5th Dec 2011, 19:04   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sear
...and is steeped in nebulous, vague impressions...
Mellifluous use of the word nebulous there - liked it.

(I've no idea of the quality of the game, I just like a good turn of phrase).

Agree with most of the rest of the other posters though - it's a shame people who take on LotR projects usually make a hash of it. There's such a rich seam of lore to draw on, allied with such a massive and willing, ready-made fanbase - it just seems incredible that most of what has been done has been average at best, this should be HUGE. As you said greypilgers, LotR games should really be up there with the Elder Scrolls series...
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Old 5th Dec 2011, 21:12   #12
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Despite not playing the game, i have to agree with sear's points. It's a lazy review.

it seemed to skim over alot of content with a simple "meh" giving little reason. In some places, even branding it as poor and leaving the reviewer to guess why!

"the puppet-like gawping of the predictable range of characters. You've got a choice between Farin the Dwarven warrior, Aldriel the Elven mage and Eradan the human Ranger - do we really need to explain the specialties?"

actually? ... yea, you might want to touch on the characters. I have no idea if the ranger is stealth based or even if the mechanics (if present) work well within the game, or if the mage character doubles as a healer and if the warrior can specialize in ranged weapons? its co-op, some information on how you play as co-op party might of been worthy of the review don't you think?

if its bad, whats broken? why is being a ranger / warrior / mage so dull? every other fantasy game has the archetypal roles, most of which work very well.

just a very opinionated review giving little logic and reason to the critique i guess.
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Old 5th Dec 2011, 21:19   #13
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What's the best LoTR game and is it any good?
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Old 6th Dec 2011, 06:42   #14
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Dreary, boring, and dry? Yeah, that sounds like Tolkien.

In all seriousness, though, it pisses me off to no end that licensed games tend to suck hard. The worst part is this dates back to '83 or so (ET, if you're old enough to remember it...aka the game that killed the industry.)

But, the tactic must work, otherwise the studios wouldn't do it anymore. So here's your challenge - don't buy it solely because it's an LOTR game. Buy it because it is (or at least reasonably seems to be) a good game. Yeah, we all get burned by games that seem like they will kick ass and then....don't. But be a little more circumspect with any licensed game, and consider the ratio - how often to licensed games turn out good? Shockingly, one of the first licensed games that was widely agreed to not suck was from Pitch Black. But consider - how big an IP was it? (Plus that may have been developed by the studio Vin Diesel owns, so it's a little different) In the case of an LOTR or the like, all the money went to get the license and there's nothing left for development. Just shovel out whatever, who cares, the nerd fans will buy it anyway.
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Old 6th Dec 2011, 18:41   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fluxtatic
Dreary, boring, and dry? Yeah, that sounds like Tolkien.

In all seriousness, though, it pisses me off to no end that licensed games tend to suck hard. The worst part is this dates back to '83 or so (ET, if you're old enough to remember it...aka the game that killed the industry.)

But, the tactic must work, otherwise the studios wouldn't do it anymore. So here's your challenge - don't buy it solely because it's an LOTR game. Buy it because it is (or at least reasonably seems to be) a good game. Yeah, we all get burned by games that seem like they will kick ass and then....don't. But be a little more circumspect with any licensed game, and consider the ratio - how often to licensed games turn out good? Shockingly, one of the first licensed games that was widely agreed to not suck was from Pitch Black. But consider - how big an IP was it? (Plus that may have been developed by the studio Vin Diesel owns, so it's a little different) In the case of an LOTR or the like, all the money went to get the license and there's nothing left for development. Just shovel out whatever, who cares, the nerd fans will buy it anyway.
For what it's worth, War in the North was made by Snowblind Studios, the same company that made Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance and Champions of Norrath. It had two and a half years of development time and a pretty big budget granted by Warner Bros. It might be a licensed game but it is definitely not some quick hack-job. A lot of the people put a lot of time and effort into it.
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Old 7th Dec 2011, 01:48   #16
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Personally I don't mind that LotR is so poorly supported by games. I mean it's the defining literary fantasy series, it made for three brilliant movies, I'm perfectly happy for it not to be the dominant universe for fantasy video games too. I like the diversity. I like that games have their own worlds and stories and characters. From Mass Effect to Dragon Age to Elder Scrolls and Warcraft video games have created their own worlds, and in many cases they are as intricate and detailed as those created by Tolkien, certainly usually more interesting.

So if the Lord of the Rings game franchises want to stink out loud, I say let them stink. We're not missing anything seeing those old stories retold when we've got plenty of creative talent producing the goods for us producing worlds designed to be gamed in.

All that said though, there is a really tasty Lord of the Rings mod for Medieval 2 Total War. Dated interface aside it's really rather good. Third Age Total War I think it's called.
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