If Snowblind Studios made a Tic-Tac-Toe game, I'd still buy it. While the developer has only a handful of titles under its collective belt, the Action/RPG genre just wouldn't be quite the same without games such as Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance, Champions of Norrath, or Champions: Return to Arms. The versatile Snowblind Engine in the right hands means you're getting a supremely addictive chunk of gaming for your money. Snowblind's knack for visually intricate locales mixed with instantly accessible gameplay even made for a solid super-hero treatment in WBIE's sleeper, Justice League Heroes (which wasn't exactly an instant classic, but was a ton of fun to play, had a great story and more Green Lanterns than you could shake a stick at).
The company's upcoming 2011 release, The Lord of the Rings - War in the North is looking to be their best game to date. WBIE has the publishing rights and according to the game's press release, Tolkein fans can expect the co-op/multiplayer focused game to go above and beyond what's found in the books as well as the popular film series. Interestingly, the press release also expects this to snare a Mature rating from the ESRB, making it the first LOTR title not scaled back for a family experience. I personally don't think this will hurt sales, as this just may be the game that actually gets more players into the Rings series (and hell, if you play it right, it'll only be Suaron's minions who get poked with arrows and swords). Here's a look at a few screens from one area in the game along with a bit of info on what to expect in the final version.
PRODUCT OVERVIEW: The Lord of the Rings: War in the North is an intense multiplayer action/RPG video game based on the renowned works of J.R.R. Tolkien. Evolving the RPG genre through innovative online, interdependent co-op play for up to three players who form their own Fellowship, the game also breaks new ground as the first LOTR video game to embrace the mature and brutal combat of Tolkien’s Middle-earth. Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment holds the rights to create video games based on both the literary and motion picture content from The Lord of the Rings, allowing developer Snowblind to explore original and familiar narrative elements. Exploring previously unseen lands, storylines and characters as well as those familiar from past feature films, gamers experience extensive character customization and development, expansive co-op gameplay options and upgradeable weapons, skills and special abilities. Players must play together or perish as they work to defeat Sauron’s forces in the North. PRODUCT FEATURES:
RELEASE DATE: 2011
- Create Your Own Fellowship and Work Together as a Team – Together, players and their friends will experience an epic, story-based adventure through vast Middle-earth to experience storylines and characters going beyond what has been seen in the feature films and previous games.
- Brutal Combat in a Dark and Dangerous Middle-earth – The Lord of the Rings: War in the North is the first The Lord of the Rings game to embrace realistic combat as Tolkien depicted it, authentically derived from The Lord of the Rings lore and delivering on action RPG principles.
- Play as a Team or Perish! – Social play is redefined through groundbreaking online, interdependent co-op gameplay which enables three different gamers to play as a complementary group where individual skills enhance the success of each individual and the team as a whole.
- Intricate Character Customization from RPG Powerhouse – Players choose from three playable races: Human, Elf or Dwarf. Extensive customization allows for meaningful and rewarding RPG gameplay including established loot and reward systems. Snowblind’s history and credibility as an action/RPG gameplay studio makes them the perfect choice for creating an epic LOTR RPG.
- Original Storyline – Play a critical role in an original story and help turn the tide of the war. Gamers experience an original story created especially for the social, collaborative three-player experience established within J.R.R. Tolkien’s lore and approved by Middle-earth Enterprises, who manage Tolkien’s legacy.
- Challenge Missions – Special missions consist of defensive positioning and group raids for up to 3 players, built especially for co-op challenges and not tied to the story.
PUBLISHER: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
DEVELOPER: Snowblind Studios
ESRB RATING: Rating Pending - “M” (Mature) Expected
GENRE: Third Person Action
RPG PLATFORMS: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Windows PC
PLAYERS: 1-3 players: 2 player split-screen; 2-3 player LAN; 2-3 player online; 3 player - 2 split, 1 networked or online)