In a little tribute to the recent release of The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, I’m going to talk about the greatest Lord of the Rings video game ever. It’s called Lord of the Rings: War in the North, and there is nothing like it.
In the game, you have three options of a playable character: a male Dúnedain Ranger named Eredan, a male dwarf warrior named Farin, and a female Elf loremaster named Andriel. Needless to say, I always play as Andriel.
You can customize the look of the person you choose to play as, but the other character options just end up with their default look unless you swap your playable choice in order to change their appearance.
When the game starts, you’re in Bree meeting with Aragorn in the Prancing Pony. You’re giving him a report of recent events; the three of you were at the Ranger camp when it was attacked by some Nazgûl and this weird Agandaûr guy. The Nazgûl are searching for the Ring, as per usual, but Agandaûr is what really scares you and Aragorn. Who is he, other than a guy with no taste in crowns?
Turns out he’s one of the dark Númenóreans (a really special human—of the same line as Aragorn, but really evil) and in the service of Sauron. He’s trying to convince this bored dragon to join him and crush all of the north and west of Middle-earth. Oh my, that’s not good. It’s up to you three and your eagle friend, Beleram, to stop Agandaûr’s forces. Yay!
This game is really fun. You get to loot all sorts of things, stock up on coins, and kill a huge variety of enemies. Of course, there’s more to it than slashing and hacking. Rivendell is your main base, as it’s Andriel’s home. You have to get your armor and weapons repaired there a lot. Speaking of armor, it actually looks like armor. There are some light options towards the beginning, but they look pretty sensible, especially for an elvish loremaster.
There are also some great hints at both the movies and the books. You have to help Bilbo and Arwen do a few small things, such as work on a poem and find ingredients for Miruvor. You can also talk to all the members of the Fellowship of the Ring before they leave, which gives you yet another tie to the main events at the end of the Third Age.
As Andriel, you get to use magic. The best part about this is her healing shield, and it is always the first thing I level up. She uses staves, so she has a very diverse range, which only increases with duel-wielding. Farin and Eredan can use swords or bows, but they cannot switch as easily between the two. All of you have special abilities, but Eradan’s is seemingly just intense camo and Farin uses War Cry to attempt to scare the enemy. Meanwhile, Andriel has a huge range of powers and can craft more health and power potions, essential to beating your enemies in one piece. All three are good characters, but as I’m sure you can see, I’m a little biased.
Through your many adventures (including killing a stone giant and talking to a dragon), you travel all over Middle-earth. These places include Rivendell, Gundabad, the Barrow-downs, and Nordinbad. In each of these locations, each of the playable characters are able to open secret doors for more loot. You even have to save Radagast from evil spiders at one point!
You watch the story of the Ring unfold, but you’ve got a more important job: you have to save pretty much everything that isn’t mentioned in the movies. It’s all up to you to win, or Middle-earth is toast. Literally. Dragons breathe fire.
War in the North has a pretty linear plot, but is also incredibly fun with well-rounded characters. Andriel is a huge member of the team, and you meet all sorts of other strong women of varying races along the way, such as a Ranger healer and the Spider-Queen in Mirkwood. There’s no romantic subplot, other than occasionally talking to Arwen about Aragorn. It’s just one of those rare games where the character you choose doesn’t matter in the slightest, other than some small dialogue changes based on your home and abilities. They all make fun of each other during revival, and they all stay pretty close friends—no matter what happens.
As far as equality goes, this is probably one of the best games for it I’ve ever seen. I’ll say it again: this game is amazing. Everyone should play it at least once in their lives, and I can proudly say I’ve played it at least four times. As it is, I’m back into the game, about to sneak into Mount Gundabad. Wish me luck!