Beat War in the North

We just finished The Lord of the Rings: War in the North!  Fantastic game -- truly fantastic.   We plan to go back through a second time, at least, on a…


The Lord of the Rings: War in the North impressions and gameplay footage

The Lord of the Rings: War in the North hasn’t been getting the press it deserves.  This month’s release list has really overshadowed this hack and slash game action rpg.  I feel like War in the North is getting written off.  IGN gave it a 7, but it’s not a 7 game — it’s better — and they probably just rushed through it.  A 7 on IGN’s “6-10” scale is terrible.  You should listen to people actually playing the game.

This is a hack and slash game like Champions of Norrath and Baldur’s Gate Dark Alliance.  In fact, it was made by the same studio. The game takes place during the well-known Lord of the Rings story — starting off slightly before the hobbits reach Bree.  Aragorn is giving the playable characters a mission, which is pretty much to fight some of the northern  human bad guys.  In many ways, you play as a distraction to keep the enemy away from the hobbits.

Characters are all fun and diverse.  The standard ranged, melee, and spell caster are all here.  The skill trees have nice variety, but I wish they were a little more indepth.  I’m glad that there is a lot of equipment and it changes the look of your character instead of just being a game where you put on gear and nothing changes.

War in the North doesn’t have the same perspective as other Snowblind games.  I was expecting more of a top-down view but the camera angle is quite different.  Surprisingly the graphics are great; I say surprisingly because usually graphics are just “okay” in a game like this.

Bottom line is this is a hack and slash action rpg with a really strong emphasis on co-op.  If you’re going to complain about repetitive combat  then you’re probably not a fan of the genre.  War in the North has all of the qualities I want in a hack and slash rpg, and it’s definitely worth buying.  I’m trying to convince Keen to buy a copy.

Gameplay video of me playing after the jump. (more…)


Dungeon Defenders Impressions

We just finished a 2 hour session of Dungeon Defenders! It was the first time playing for all of us and we had a blast with the game. Dungeon Defenders came out today and you can get it on the Xbox 360 or on Steam.


  • Gameplay is smooth. graphics are sexy
  • In-game shop (in-game currency)
  • Upgrading items (visit the forge, click the item on your character sheet, allocate a full meter of mana and it will upgrade the item by a level)
  • Persistent loot/persistent characters
  • Level design is really great
  • Each character feels different in how it defends.  Some compliment each other very well.
  • Addicting

Only one immediate negative:

  • Right now there are tech difficulties with the PC version.  Frequent disconnects from the server (which you’ll see in the video).

Dungeon Defenders is awesome.  You get to choose a character and progress with it.  Players choose which stats to upgrade and can choose to focus on their hero, their traps/turrets, or both.  Both heroes and traps are crucial to the success of the level.

The gameplay centers around obtaining mana. Mana drops from creatures when they die and from chests.  Mana is used as currency for buying items in the shop, placing turrets, and using abilities.  At the end of each round, any excess mana beyond your carry cap is “banked” for your use later in the shop/forge.

Items are also a big focus in Dungeon Defenders.  Monsters and chests can drop loot.  Weapons and armor follow a similar formula to Diablo and Torchlight in that they can be the same item but have random stats.  This makes me feel anxious whenever an item drops — could it be something awesome or just another dud?!

Perhaps most important of all, the game caters to groups of up to 4 players but can be enjoyed solo.  Get some friends together and watch two hours disappear.  We just did.

You can watch about an hour of us playing by clicking ‘Read More’. I highly recommend 53:35 since it is the final wave where we get rocked. (more…)



I woke up this morning super excited and headed over to Toys R Us.  I was mentally preparing myself for lines wrapped around the building and was ready to knock…


Dead Island Impressions

The world is open, quite pretty, and full of zombies.

Having played Dead Island for 5 hours, completing dozens of side-quests and only 8% of the main story, I feel I am more than qualified to fill you guys in on the game.   Dead Island is all about an event that has happened on this island which caused people to turn into zombies.  Somehow you are unaffected by this blight and have been tasked with helping the locals, those who have not been infected, survive.

The gameplay reminds me of Grand Theft Auto meets Dead Rising.  There’s a main story line that you can push through right away but littering your path just about everywhere you go are side quests.  The world is open for you to explore and hunt or avoid zombies.  In addition to side quests there are side people in distress that you have the option to save and work benches to create weapons.  Think Dead Rising — you have nails and a bat which makes a spikey nail bat or a saw blade, some tape, batteries, wires, and a rake and you have a chain saw polearm.

The core of Dead Island gameplay is smashing zombie faces (Warning: It’s graphic).  You get a decent variety of weapons, although so far it’s all melee.  You can kick, jump kick, and sprint.  You can even drive vehicles (which is a TON of fun to do with friends).  What sets Dead Island apart are its RPG elements.  You choose a character that specializes in a type of weapon at the beginning of the game but you get to specialize points that you earn each level into three different trees.  These trees are all very different from the other characters.  My brother, friend, each chose a different character and all of our trees are unique — that’s a lot of individuality!

A few technical issues found their way into the PC launch. I don’t know if it’s the game or Steam, but joining friends takes a bit of luck an patience.  We figured out a trick to get it working almost 100%:  Have someone start the game and invite all the players who need to be waiting at the main menu.  Have the players not accept the invite but instead right click the portrait of the person inviting (in the Steam chat window) and click “Join game” on the person’s name.    Other issues include:

  • Sound issues.  Graev gets a lot of static/popping with his speakers but his headset works fine.
  • Mouse sensitivity is way off for me.  There’s a huge disparity between in-game and menu.
  • Apparently the “wrong version” was released on Steam.
  • Minor polish issues best characterized within the “feel” of the game.

Exploring the beautiful world completing quests, mowing down zombies with blunt objects, customizing a character, driving trucks, and having the ability to do it all quite seamlessly in multiplayer coop makes this easily a contender for the best zombie game I’ve played.  Depending on how the rest of the game plays out, it may surpass Dead Rising.  It’s fun — fun enough to play 4 hours straight.  Based on my initial feelings of the game, I feel comfortable recommending Dead Island.

UPDATE: I would like to amend my recommendation.  I do not recommend the PC version until all issues are resolved.  Buy the console version.  The game us fun but the PC’s multiplayer has been down for two days which is unacceptable.