Games with Thrones
Find an ax to grind in these roleplaying titles.
The Lord of the Rings: War in the North
Warner Bros. Interactive (Xbox 360, PS3, PC) The good guys: A fellowship of three Middle-earthlings: human, elf, and dwarf. The bad guy: Evil-eye Sauron and his army of Orcs and trolls. The gear: Swords, shields, axes, bows…. You know, loot! The gist: Forget all the fuzzy feet and dwarf-tossing comic relief of The Lord of the Rings films; this combat-heavy roleplaying adventure embraces the serious side of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth. “The fighting is hard-hitting and brutal,” says Michael de Plater, design director at Snowblind Studios, “with blood spurting and severed limbs flying.” Up to three players journey through Middle-earth’s war-torn northern regions—uncharted territory for Tolkien fans—on a Gandalf-approved quest to murder Sauron’s minions. When the battles become overwhelming, the fellowship can summon air support from an eagle sidekick. Wield him wisely or his goose is cooked.
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Bethesda Softworks (Xbox 360, PS3, PC) The good guy: A magic-wielding warrior seemingly ripped from a Molly Hatchet album cover. The bad guys: Swarms of dragons. The gear: Enough medieval weaponry to arm a realm of Renaissance Faire regulars. The gist: “It’s just a big, crazy roleplaying game with as much stuff in it as possible,” says Todd Howard, Skyrim’s director. It’s hard to imagine more “stuff” than in Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls and Fall out epics, but even a quick look will make your helm spin. See a snow capped peak? Climb it. Find a hole in the ground? Spelunk it. Those mastodons stomping across the plains? Kill ’em and grill ’em to gird your loins. Rend heaven and Earth with throaty Dragon Shout spells when winged wyverns attack. Molly Hatchet would approve.
Runic Games (PC, Mac) The good guys: A ragtag party of warriors and magic users … and their pets. The bad guy: A mysterious villain who picks up where the first game’s ancient evil dropped the ball. The gear: Various rare weapons, amulets, and pieces of armor. The gist: While fans of multiplayer dungeon crawlers await Diablo III—the one sequel to rule them all—they can feed their loot-collecting needs with this. The action roleplaying epic, available for direct download at a less-than-epic price, looks and plays just like the Diablo games (it oughta—Torchlight II is the product of ex-Diablo developers). Players team up and travel the world, raiding dungeons and click-click-clicking on monsters to hack them to bits. Pet sidekicks offer backup and, more important, moral support.
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