The Achievement Hunter Case #3: The Lord of the Rings - War in the North

By Jackson Maringa in The Achievement Hunter
Thursday, February 23, 2012 at 4:00 pm

There's just something about The Lord of the Rings that gets my nerd engine revving. As a kid I read the books countless times. As an adult, I watched the movies in the theater, bought the DVDs, bought the Extended Edition DVDs, bought the Blu-Rays, and then bought the Extended Edition Blu-Rays (OK, I may have a problem). I also delved headfirst into the games. The past few years haven't seen too many LOTR games, but the ones that have come out I've spent an embarrassing amount of time with.

So, when Warner Bros. announced The Lord of the Rings: War in the North, my heart palpitated. What was this - a game that combined my obsessive love of LOTR with my OCD tendencies to get completely ruined by hack 'n slash role-playing games? And, it has achievements? I'm happier than Samwise Gamgee stuffing his fat hobbit face with food!

You can just hear him getting fatter

The premise of LOTR: War in the North is pretty simple - pick one of three characters (ranger, warrior, wizard) and become part of a secret fellowship tasked with the other crap the real fellowship doesn't have time to take care of. That usually boils down to killing bosses not quite cool enough to be in the movies, but those mundane tasks are made more enjoyable simply due to the fact that 95% of the game is literally just smashing one button to kill stuff. I called it the "kill button." Just wail away on it and things die. Simple!

But, let's get to the achievements...those precious, precious achievements.

From the start, no matter what character you pick, you're teamed up with two AI controller partners. Good help is apparently hard to find in Middle-Earth, as your AI companions are about as smart as dung. They die quickly and they die often. But, there's a silver lining to be had.

Where There's Life, There's Hope - revive a fallen ally (10 points)

Considering how often your companions die, I wish I got more points for this. Seriously, the companions have the constitution of cardboard cutouts. That are wet.

With all the hacking and slashing going on, it's not long before I unlock a few combat related achievements. The "kill button" is starting to prove fruitful, as I unlock two achievements in one enemy encounter.

Relentless - While in Hero Mode, perform a streak of 50 hits (20 points)

Sudden Fury - Perform 3 critical hits within 10 seconds (10 points)

So far the game has been little more than me running around and killing the same looking Orcs over and over again, but after much perseverance  I find myself in the fabled home of the Elves - Rivendell. And, I'm almost immediately disappointed to find that it's almost just as lifeless as my horrible companions. But, there are points hiding in this ancient place, mainly from just talking to various folks. Just like in the movies!

Did you know L. Ron Hubbard was named after Elrond? That may be a lie

Trusted with the Secret - Learn of the Ring of Power and the plan for its destruction (10 points)

Friend to the Ring-Bearer - Speak with Frodo in Rivendell (10 points)

Points for talking, huh? I can do that. 

Along the way I've unwittingly picked up the ability to call in a giant eagle to attack enemies for me. I only realize this now because I've been skipping every single piece of spoken dialogue in the game. The voice acting is horrendous, akin to what you'd find in a misguided high school theater production of LOTR. Curious as to what my newfound power does (after unknowingly having had it for two hours), I decide to see what my winged ally can do. Seeing that it's pretty effective, I spam the living hell out of it. The result, more points!

Hero of the North - Defeated Sauron's Lieutenant Agandaur (80 points)

Not a bad haul for beating the game, but the fact that I finished the game beating some second fiddle in Sauron's army is less than satisfying.

All in, I've unlocked 34 out of 46 achievements in the game, for a grand total of 660/1000, with my total playtime coming in at a little over 7 hours.

My overall impression of my experience is mixed - I love Middle-Earth, but I kind of hate this game. Being essentially on the JV team to save Middle-Earth is just stupid, and your character and companions are vacuums of soullessness. But, the points were easy, and that's why I was playing this game in the first place, right? For the time investment, I could have done a lot worse.

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