It’s a great time to be a fan of J. R. R. Tolkien’s most prolific works and the franchises they spawned. Not only is Peter Jackson back in the captain’s chair to work on The Hobbit movies in New Zealand, but what looks to be the most gruesome and fun Lord of the Rings video game yet is due out in just a few weeks.

Lord of the Rings: War in the North, developed by Snowblind Studios, takes place during the stories we all know and love from the film trilogy and books and follows a group of heroes in the Northern Region seeking out Agandar while Frodo and the Fellowship head to Mordor. It’s an RPG that can be played solo or cooperatively and that alone has us at Game Rant waiting to play it together online.

War in the North features three playable characters, each representing a different class but each highly customizable with a variety of skills that can be leveled up. There’s Eradan, a Dunedain Ranger of the North (think Aragorn), Andriel, an Elven loremaster taught by Lord Elrond, and Farin, a Dwarvin Champion.

Players can play classic local (couch) co-op with a friend, or jump online to have a pair of friends join the fight to take full advantage of the power of three.

Along the journey, Lord of the Rings: War in the North will take full advantage of the lore behind middle-earth and players will not only see many familiar faces, creatures and locations – The Shire, Bree and Rivendell – but they will have the opportunity to explore locations not yet seen before: Ettenmoors, Fornost, Mirkwood and Mount Gundabad. Two of these locations you can see below with our exclusive 360 degree screenshots of Mirkwood and Mount Gundabad.

Mirkwood

Mirkwood lies to the east of the Misty Mountains, and is a dark forested area, that gets very little light. The largest forest in Middle-earth, it is home to the Elves, but due to its dark, uncharted landscape — it also attracts evil. In the screenshot you will see these evil visitors, including trolls and giant spiders.

 Mount Gundabad

Gundabad, at the intersection of the two mountain ranges — the Misty Mountains and the Grey Mountains, is a frozen, snowy place. Previously a sacred land for the Dwarf race, its has fallen to the orcs, and become one of their most powerful strongholds.

Still images don’t do the combat justice so for a better idea of what players are getting themselves into, watch the following trailers:

Be sure to check out the Lord of the Rings: War in the North collector’s edition and pre-order details while they still last! It’s one of the coolest collector’s packages we’ve seen in a while.

The Lord of the Rings: War in the North releases November 1, 2011, for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.

Follow me on Twitter @rob_keyes.

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