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E3 - The Lord of the Rings: War in the North - Impression
07.02.2010

CHRIS PRIVITERE
PODCAST PRODUCER


War in the North

One of the big features of this hardware generation has been the inclusion of co-op play. Online connectivity has been permitting people to go blow up zombies, Nazis, zombie Nazis, aliens, buildings, and ghosts with a buddy, but there hasn't been much in the way of good co-op orc chopping.

WB Games and Snowblind Studios are hoping to remedy this. They found a paragraph in The Lord of The Rings mentioning a war in Mirkwood and decided to make a game out of it. Best of all, since this is being made by the same people that brought you Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance, there'll be plenty of hacking and slashing. Even more best of all, you can bring a friend. But even better than more than best of all, you can bring two friends.

Snowblind was demoing the 360 version of the game at E3, and they made it pretty obvious that co-op fun is the goal of this project. Three players were sat in front of their own monitors with a 360 controller and a headset, and they used them. Combat looked to be a combination of attacks and strategy management. Players would call out new monsters that appeared, announced when they were going to do a move that needed support from other party members, and asked for help when in trouble. There also seemed to be a need for more coordinated efforts when magic was involved. One player had a nice shield up that the other players tried to stay inside of to avoid damage.

The players were on a quest to meet the brown mage Radagast, who was apparently too pre-occupied with the Longbottom Leaf to get messages via the usual flying or furry inter-wizard communication animal of choice. But that's okay as it lets the party get "dropped" off in the woods by a pack of those epic eagles from the end of The Return of the King. Before they take off, though, one of those eagles has a nice conversation with you (and a good fight with a Nazgul) demonstrating what looks to be great voice acting that will be featured in the game. It's also fun to watch an eagle's beak flex like a pair of lips.

So we've got beat-em-up rpg action from a proven developer. We have cooperative play where working together looks to be very important. We have good voice acting and visuals that show a lot of polish. And we have a game that's going to get another year's worth of work before it's released. RPGamers who've been waiting for a modern co-op experience to call their own will likely have it with War in the North. No word yet on whether there is a collector's edition with replica wizard pipe and Southfarthing pipe-weed.



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