There's been few loot RPG's on the Xbox 360 but I've played them all. Having said that, I can honestly say that War in The North is the BEST action-RPG loot game simply due to the amazing, fluid and brutal combat and due to the vast quantity of loot available for the player to find. As the title states, the game is set in the LOTR universe (Middle Earth) and the story is a new tale about another fellowship whose quest is in the North. The story isn't anything that's immersing IMO but it did its job and contained lots of references from the books and movies (basically, the lore of Middle Earth) for Middle Earth enthusiasts to relish in. For those who are novices to Middle Earth, you can learn about the world from NPC's and also from area descriptions.
Some have called this game repetitive but these people obviously don't know what a action RPG loot game is. War in The North actually offers more depth than some popular depthless games such as Call of Duty or Modern Warfare. The combat system is amazing and is far from being repetitive. You can block (and you will have to), you can dodge, you have light and heavy attacks which can be chained together and you also have abilities and there's a smooth transition to ranged combat too. Each enemy requires a different tactic for the player to beat and this is what makes playing through the game addictive as each battle has you yearning for the next. Combine that with the loot, RPG elements (leveling up statistics and abilities) and there's a lot to keep you playing through the game again and again.
The voice acting is pretty good with Nolan North voicing Eradan (the Ranger) and the voices actors of Gandalf and Elrond do well to nearly perfectly imitate their movie counterparts. The music is new and has been composed by Inon Zur who composed the music for Dragon Age: Origins. Does the music fit LOTR? Yes, it does and the music is memorable, epic and suitably fitting at all times. Expect peaceful melodies when roaming beautiful landscapes of Middle Earth to epic momentum when clashing with the enemy. The sound effects go well with the music and really make you feel part of a real battle as your weapon strikes your enemy.
There are plenty of side quests for the player to tackle and exploration is highly encouraged in regions to find all that a region has to offer. Each character has their own unique racial ability which allows them to do something that another cannot. The Ranger has tracking skills and can find treasure and Ranger caches. The Elf can brew potions (alchemy) and the Dwarf can mine for gems and knock down walls. The player can also backtrack to regions to complete unfinished quests, defeat enemies that live in that region, talk to people, trade or simply to find loot.
The graphics are beautiful and Sarn Ford looks just as beautiful as it should be. A peaceful melody plays while in this region as you see flocks of birds flying in the sky while the trees sway in the wind as the river below reflects the sun. In fact, all regions feel alive and have atmosphere. The areas in the game really do do LOTR proud. Also: snow builds up on your character in the snow areas. Rain can be seen dropping of your character when you encounter it and mud builds up on your character as you roll. This only helps to immerse you even more with the world and shows how good the engine of the game is.
The dialogue plays out similar to Mass Effect's dialogue system, save that there are no moral choices. You can try to develop a personality for one of the three characters but they are ultimately noble heroes and the dialogue will often be noble. Through dialogue, you are able to ask questions, continue with the plot and learn more about the world, lore and of course - the story. You can even ask Gandalf - when you meet him - why Frodo can't take a giant eagle to Mount Doom! He explains that The Council considered the idea but ultimately decided against it due to the attraction that it would have with enemies and also because the Eagles probably wouldn't go through it. Gandalf also stated something along the lines of "one does not simply fly into Morder" which made me laugh. So all in all, the dialogue is pretty good in the game with some little easter eggs here and there. The battle cries that each character shouts in battle also only help to immerse you with combat.
So whether you're looking for an action-RPG with plenty of loot, a LOTR game with a new plot or simply a game where you can decapitate orcs and send their limbs flying, then War in The North is for you!