Middle-earth: Shadow of War (PC/XB1/PS4)

 

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor came out almost three years ago. It was an interesting take on the Lord of the Rings universe created by J.R.R Tolkien. The combat was unique, the story engaging and filled with rich lore and featured a unique Nemesis System. The game tried to do new things in the world of third-person story adventures, even if the system fell short of what was originally promised. Middle-earth: Shadow of War tries to improve every aspect of the original concepts, while at the same time expanding upon it. It’s fantasy at its finest and I believe Tolkien would be proud.

Welcome back to Middle-earth

For those who haven’t played the first iteration of the series the sequel does a great job of explaining the events that lead up to the continuation of the saga via cutscenes from the start of the adventure. The story is set around a Ranger of Gondor named Talion, who watches his family being murdered by the Orcs of Sauron. When the tortured spirit of Celebrimbor (who helped create the 9 Rings of Power) happens to latch onto Talion during his passing through the Wraith World, they fuse together and then plan to destroy Sauron and his forces. The first game left off with the cliffhanger in which Celebrimbor with Talions help was forging a new ring of power to rival the one ring, and this is exactly where Shadow of War begins.

 

Middle-earth™ Shadow of War™
Celebrimbors new ring to defeat Sauron’s ring.

 

It’s clear the Warner Bros and Monolith are fans of the books and movies as they have dove deep into the lore of the universe. The game takes a few liberties with characters, like Shelob, who is the major enemy for the majority of the game. Instead of her being just a giant spider she can transform into a woman during your interactions with her. Some die-hard fans may not like this, But it is liberties like this that make Shadow of War fun and expand the universe overall.

 

shelob
Shelob in her human form.

 

It is also interesting to see iconic locations integrated into the world map, such as Minas Morgul and Minas Tirith before it fell into the hands of Mordor. Shadow of War is an awesome adventure that takes heavy inspiration from Tolkien’s work. It improves on the franchise’s story even if it’s not actually official Tolkien lore. The whole story is exciting, epic and is bursting with Lord of the Rings flair.

 

Middle-earth™ Shadow of War™map
Map of Mordor showing some of the playable locations.

 

Combat and enemies

Combat will be familiar to you if you have played any of the Batman series by Warner bros. The game borrows the combat style of the Batman Arkham series, which makes sense as WB Interactive is the publisher both series. This similarity is not a bad thing at all, as the combat is immediately easy to pick up and play. It can get insanely deep with combos, move sets, and special attacks but the tutorial will teach you about this in depth. Along with an interesting talent tree to pour points into. Mastery of these systems is rewarded giving you a sense of increasing power and grace while fighting. Use of proper tactics and management of all your abilties is an advantage for success.

 

Middle-earth™ Shadow of War™ (23)
Talions upgrade tree.

 

In additon to the improved combat, the game also has RPG levels of depth. Players have to manage a wide variety of items, such as armor, weapons, and gems. You can slot gems into certain items to give them extra effects, like bonus damage or life leech.theres also the ability to craft more powerful gems giving more of a percentage gain on the buff.

The enemies in Shadow of Mordor have a huge amount of variety, from Orc Grunts to Giant War Trolls also they can utilize caragors and grougs and also a new mount for the game the drake. Each enemy has a different approach to killing/recruiting them.The nemesis system is the way that Talion can “brand” orcs and use them to create his own army and take over the forts for each area. these areas can if you want to be attacked by other online players thus making you choose whether you want to add defenses or not.

 

Middle-earth™ Shadow of Warnemisis™
The nemesis system.

 

I highly recommend Middle-earth: Shadow of War. It’s a fantastic game with a near flawless execution.The journey is enjoyable and the characters you help and hinder throughout the game make it a memorable experience. If you’re looking for a high quality, AAA single-player game, look no further than Shadow of War.

 

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