Middle-Earth Onlive: LOTR War In The North

"I seeketh demonstrations of Northern Conflict. Be they in this cloud?" "Nay, this is a snowstorm, thou nincompoop."

Wondering whether to buy Lord of the Rings: War in the North? Depending on where you are in the world, you may have that option right now (US), on the 9th of November (EU) or in the distant future of the 25th of November (UK). All sorts of things can aid a purchasing decision, primary among them being our wise words, but few would argue against the use of a demo in addition. There is a demo for War in the North but it’s exclusive to the Onlive service, allowing a 30 minute trial starting from the beginning of the game. It should be available in the US and the UK right now.

Demo exclusivity is a strange thing. It’s supposed to be an advertisement of sorts and ads are supposed to want as many eyes on them as possible. Maybe this makes it easier to implement a timed cut-off or is easier than offering multiplatform demos, or makes it easier to implement a timed cut-off. I don’t know, which should be abundantly clear.

We’ll have some thoughts on the game soon, even though it is trying to avoid our still proud though debt-ridden land. It’s been a while since we asked about Onlive though so this seems a good time to ask about experiences with it. How goes it, if it goes at all?


  1. DigitalSignalX says:

    erm. Don’t really want another online service app installed on my pc today just to play a demo. Seems like a 4 player, LOTR themed, equally railed version of Hunted: the Demon’s Forge. Which I enjoyed mind you, but will still wait for a Wot I think before considering.

    • Jumwa says:

      If it’s as good as Hunted, then I don’t need a demo.

      That game was a ton of fun for my partner and I. Top notch co-op fun, I must say.

      Though of course it got flamed by reviewers and gamers, though I suspect it was for the terrible promotions leading up to it and the skimpiness of the lead females outfit. Because most of the criticisms I’ve heard were from people who obviously never played it.

    • Baka says:

      It was rather enjoyable until that moronic twist ending. Ruined our will to replay the game, my coop partner and I are buttbuddies like that. Does a New Game+ change anything in the game’s outcome?

    • Jumwa says:

      Our first playthrough together got us a very crummy ending as well, because we had drank the slig. Had the opposite effect on us though. So we committed ourselves to playing again, on New Game+ to get the best ending.

      My partner was quite distraught with the sadness of the first time, so we basically HAD to do it to quell her misery. But it was a blast regardless, and worth it to see a happier ending. Though not drinking the slig makes completion more challenging of course. Not as hard as we initially expected though. Our first playthrough got us enough practice to be rockin’.

    • nk says:

      To get the good ending in Hunted, just don’t do drugs ^_^ Not drinking the sleg means you do not get corrupted, at the price of getting pounded in certain battles.

      Alternatively, watch the ending on youtube.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      The game is less like Hunted (which I still say is basically Gears Of Hexen – never enjoyed searching out secret areas more than in that game) and is rather more like Dark Alliance with a Bioware-esque dialog wheel. It’s not a hardcore CRPG but it’s probably comparable to a co-op Witcher 2. Each character has attributes (strength/dexterity/etc) and 3 skill lines they can play with and there’s a proper inventory and everything.

      Beyond the initial shock at playing a Tolkien-esque RPG that actually takes place in Middle Earth rather than just ripping it off, I’d say it’s a pretty good game so far if somewhat bland.

      Also, if anyone has DRM questions, it uses Steamworks, which should make matchmaking a breeze.

  2. andytt66 says:

    Hell with it. I cancelled my pre-order last night. Most of the reviews I’ve been seeing from across the pond are in the “meh” category.. pretty much saying that this is SpaceMarine with Elves. (In terms of gameplay rather than, y’know, Eldar.)

    If publishers didn’t persist in this ridiculous staggered-release rubbish… but they do. And so they’ve lost a sale. Pre-ordered Saints Rows from Tesco (thank you savygamer!) instead.

    • Martha Stuart says:

      About the staggered releases, i thought the UK was in the EU, or am i incorrect in that assumption? if the UK is in the EU like i thought, then shouldn’t the UK release be the same as the EU’s?

    • Starky says:

      The UK is in the European Union, but not a part of the European currency (thank god for small favours) – thus we are a separate market.

  3. godgoo says:

    Good grief it’s terrible! Cringe worthy dialogue, rip-off characters, trite premise, brown graphics, limp combat, dated ui. Urgh!

    Edit: URGH I say!

  4. amusingthebrood says:

    I purchased Space Marine for a shiny pound when Onlive launched, and this weekend took advantage of the free three-day pass for Orcs Must Die!

    It hasn’t changed much between the two; still a slightly fuzzy image that benefits from sitting away from your monitor, still decent streaming that is more than good enough for play as long as your internet connection is good and behaving (and pointless if it isn’t). I am still pleasently surprised by how good the control latency is. I think overall OnLive reasonable for what it is.

    It certainly won’t be a regular gaming source for me, but it might come in handy as a demo service. I couldn’t contemplate paying full price for a game though, not when I could be playing it locally.

    • Lowbrow says:

      I used the deal to play Deus Ex, didn’t have any problems other than a couple of stutters. What I really want from Onlive is Shogun 2. It will run on my laptop but the loading times are so slow that the campaign is pretty much unplayable. That is the type of game that’s perfect for Onlive, where people without SSDs will benefit from the reduced loading times and the action is so fast that it blurs into a mess..

  5. Enzo says:

    Funny, I just finished playing the demo on Onlive one minute ago. The game is ok, simple loot-driven fun. Slow-motion decapitations are pretty cool. I think I’ll buy it on OnLive since the first game you buy there costs only 1$.

  6. thekeats1999 says:

    Thought this had been delayed till the 25th November in the UK? That is what the steam page and amazon say anyway. Was going to pick it up as a timewaster till Skyrim comes out next week but now it can wait for a steam sale.

    Edit. Bugger missed the uk date in the main post. Rest of my post still holds though, would have bought before skyrim but wait for a sale now the release is after

  7. itchyeyes says:

    I bought it to play coop with my wife yesterday. She’s not a big gamer, but she’s a big LOTR fan and Baldurs Gate: DA is one of the few games that she truly enjoys playing on her own. So I figure if anyone is a good audience for this game it’s her. Reviews seem sort of middle of the road, but I’m hoping it will at least be some good fun for coop for me.

    • johnpeat says:

      Given that Hunted is available under £10 on console (and I’m sure PC won’t be far behind that) I’d have saved some coins and done that first.

      Tried the demo for this and it’s a pretty unimaginative “Champions of Norrath” game with LOTR scenery and (rather poor) story.

      I can’t be sure if it’s OnLive or the game itself which makes it feel slightly ‘syrupy’ in combat terms tho

  8. Moni says:

    RE: Onlive. The video compression and control latency are deal breakers for me. Although the control latency isn’t too annoying for something like Tropico.

    I played a bit of Metro 2033 with Onlive and it really convinced me to buy the game. I’m usually put off trying demos because the hassle of downloading, installing, and uninstalling. Also demo versions also tend to be really poorly put together.

    Onlive is a great demo platform at the moment, but it won’t replace the good old fashioned way of doing things. Though, I do really like the potential of playing something like Football Manager on the bus to work.

    • johnpeat says:

      Metro 2033 is a REALLY odd choice of game on Onlive given that

      a – it’s been sold for 8p in several Steam (and other site) sales
      b – it’s controls are awful even without the latency

      Then there’s the horrible bullet-sponge enemies and tiresome ‘corridor’ levels and…

  9. starseed42 says:

    I’m probably about halfway through the game and I absolutely love it.. The combat is deceptively deep , especially once you start unlocking different abilities and coming up against some really awesome enemy types.. There is a definite feeling of progression and you get better and better loot the higher later locations.. The dialog and story are exceptional, they stay true to the source material and the stories cross in interesting ways.. One thing I particular like is the level of side dialog you can engage in that is there to fill out the lore of middle earth. You also get rewarded with changing dialog , so going back to past locations is worth it. Another thing to note is that the dialog options can be different depending on which character you’re playing as at the time.

    I would say that the first 30 minutes are a bit slow since it’s mostly dialog , this kind of demo is not a good fit for this game

  10. Aaarrrggghhh says:

    Isn’t that just the 30 minute “demo” every game on OnLive has?
    As most games no longer come with a demo will see more Onlive “exclusive” demos in the future? At least until GaiKai is out of beta?

    Or is this really an “exclusive” like in “we could, but we don’t want to because thos smart bastards gave us shiny money”?

  11. Julio Biason says:

    If anyone is interested in watching the gameplay, Jesse Cox, Wowcrendor and Trish started a game of LotR: War in the North and it’s, right now, going on Cox YouTube channel.

  12. Darthus says:

    Yeah, I don’t think this really has anything to do with Demo exclusivity. Every developer wants a demo, but it takes a significant amount of extra work to put one together and devs often have to make the choice near the end of development if they want to take the time/energy to craft a demo or spend that time polishing up the game. They often choose the latter, which is why the demo comes later. However, if a company makes an OnLive version of the the game, all they have to do is say, “Yes” to having a demo and OnLive will just give you the option of playing the first 30 minutes. That’s not possible on other platforms. So, I see this more as an advantage of the OnLive platform rather than some sort of planned demo exclusivity.

  13. DK says:

    Because the best part of a demo is playing it with horrible latency, bad graphics and on a machine that’s not your own so you have no idea if you can actually run it.

    Yeah they really GET what a DEMO is all about.

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