The Dark Lord Sauron seeks his conquest of Middle-Earth, and his eye turns to the North. Enlisting Agandúr, Dark Lord Sauron's lieutenant, to organise his forces and conquer the free peoples of Middle-Earth in the North, an unlikely companion of three are set out on the task to stop him in his tracks. A Human (ranger), a Dwarf (champion), and an Elf (lore master), the most unlikely trio. I will stop here as to the story without giving any spoilers to those who wish to play the game, but hopefully one may find the story enthralling or captivating.
Middle-Earth has never looked so beautiful in a computer game. The visuals are definetly impressive, from the Snow terrain of the Grey Mountains to the Forests of Mirkwood. The visuals on the character models are somewhat impressive also, although more detail could have been given to the faces of the models (yet they are still good).
So, what does this Lord of the Rings offer in terms of gameplay? Limited exploration, alot of fluid combat, an interesting RPG leveling system and limited but fluid dialogue.
It has been said that the developers once said that the user could literally go around the map, whether this is true or not I do know, but from my experience there is little exploration to be had due to the constant interference of an invisible wall. Certain places where it looks like you can go, you cannot, and there is no jump ability. What exploration there is, is made through the use of little pathways and the ability to drop down a little lower off the side of a ledge to a path beneath, the very path which leads you back to where you were.
The combat itself is very fluid. Basing on left mouse button as a quick attack and the right mouse button as a heavy attack, one can combine the attacks to make a very fluid flow of attack. If you strike for enough times with the quick attack, a yellow arrow will appear where you can unleash a critical or finishing strike, to do so you use the right mouse button. Combat may eventually become tedious, this is especially true when at certain points where it'll just seem as button mashing. The animations are superb, however, bringing combat to life in a certain fashion. Battling a Snow Troll, dodging the attacks and striking was fun, and the environment and music really did bring this combat to life.
The RPG leveling system is somewhat interesting. For each class you have the three trees, specialising in certain abilites. Take for instance a ranger, One of his trees specialise in Melee combat, while another specialises in Archery, for the third to specialise in Stealth. Your traditional 'Strength', 'Dexterity' etc are present, and as usual, influence the damage, the ability to wear armour etc.
The Dialogue is rather hard to grade, for on the one hand it is superb. The voice acting was great, particularly that of Beleram's, but when it comes to the choice of dialogue, ie user to character interaction, the dialogue felt somewhat limited in choice.
The sound quality was actually quite good. The voice acting as mentioned was superb, and Inon Zur does expand upon Howard Shore's Soundtrack to the Films. Of course, it will be hard to out do Shore's work, but Inon Zur does manage to get it right. The music isn't as good, but it isn't too bad either.
Sadly this game is infused with Steamworks DRM, and surprisngly not Games for Windows Live DRM. Yes, the box does say that it is a Games for Windows Live product, and even (oddly enough) the dlc was printed on a Games for Windows Live sheet (which is to actually be activated in Steam). In the end, if this type of DRM does not bother you, then just ignore this section.
The Collectors Edition content is quite good, containing the Snow Troll model, an art book, dlc, and a Disc which contains few pieces from the Soundtrack.
The Snow Troll model is well done, the details are quite good and it is quite the size. I was quite surprised when the product came to see the size of the box it arrived in, I haven't quite measured the model yet, nor the box, but I assure you, it isn't small.
The Art book as ususal depicts the artistic designs along with the development and progress of the game, it is an interesting piece to look at.
The DLC is fine, but I never used it in the game, as you will stumble upon greater weapons.
The Soundtrack was disappointing, but I was expecting this when it was advertised that only three pieces from the soundtrack would appear on the disc. To see the scale of the soundtrack in The Lord of the Rings: War In the North - Original Video Game Score
All in all, I found it a good purchase, and I hope this information helps you decide on yours too.