Shadow of War is the sequel to the amazing game Middle-Earth: Shadow Of Mordor, which was inspired by J.R.R Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. You play as Talion the Ranger, and the elf lord Celebrimbor, trying to dominate orcs into your army in order to destroy the dark lord Sauron and his forces.
Release date: Oct 10, 2017
Size: 70 GB
Genre: Action adventure
Developed by: Monolith Productions
Published by: WB Games
Available on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
The Shadow of War’s story isn’t all that memorable, mainly due to the poor first act of the game that feels like one big tutorial rather than the beginning sequences of the game. From the end of act 1 until the end of the game, my playthrough was enjoyable and I especially liked the depth they gave to Talion and Celebrimbor compared to the first game.
The dialog in Shadow of War was a little bit jarring mainly when it came to the humans. Orc dialog on the other hand was clever and even sometimes funny. I couldn’t help myself from laughing when an orc with the nickname of “The Moaner” just stood there and screamed at me.
The gameplay in Shadow of War hasn’t changed much from its predecessor aside from a few abilities; from freezing an orc solid to riding a dragon (yes, it’s as awesome as you think it is). All the abilities you gain are from spending skill points which you get for leveling up.
You can spend these skill points on either your main abilities or the sub abilities that are mainly just modifiers to your base abilities, which can make for some very unique playthrough; if you want to be stealthy, want to kill from a far or just run around lopping of orc heard there is a play style for everyone.
Combat is fun and smooth if not a little bit too easy at first. If you have information on the Captains, Warchiefs and Overlord then going in to battle with somewhat of a game plan will almost guarantee you a victory while going in with no pre made plan will make the battle a lot harder and as you can imagine, the higher the rank of the orc, the harder the battle will be.
Now that I’m talking about the ranks I might as well talk about the feature that made the Shadow of series so popular: the Nemesis System. With this system you will have to face off against Captains, Warchiefs, and an Overlord that randomly generates from a multitude of diverse orcs all with their own personality, strengths and weaknesses in which you can shame, kill, or dominate them into your army. It’s very much the same as Shadows of Mordor which is not a bad thing; if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it!
The first thing you will probably focus on Shadow of War are the graphics and from a far the game is beautiful, but when you get closer you start to see the flaws and lack of detail in the environment and other characters, especially when compared to Talion, the best example being Gollum and well-known name in the Middle-earth lore just looks like a watered-down color palette of gray and brown and a slit hint of red. In a game that is released 3 years after its predecessor the graphics aren’t really something to get excited about.
The world however has strong and diverse areas, extremely better than the Shadow of Mordor with a wider color palette than just brown, black, and gray. The world itself feels like just that, a world and every location is different with a different feel to it.
The sound section in Shadow of War is very well done from the clashing of steel in a fight to the ambient bugs when nothing else is around; it really improves the immersion of the game.
The songs can range from the frantic drums of battle to an eerie song of ambient, it is really amazing.
I wouldn’t be writing a deep review without talking about the recent controversy plaguing Shadow of War; microtransactions. I personally don’t like microtransactions unless you can also get them in game without paying for them and they don’t affect the game in anyway much like in Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch. In Shadow Of War you can buy a certain amount of coins to unlock chests that will give you better armor and better orc followers through the silver, gold, and mithril chests. The silver chests you can buy with in game currency but you’re not going to get the best stuff. For the gold and mithril chests you must buy a special currency with your own money, a currency that you cannot get in game and these will get you the better loot and orcs, mithril chests being the best chests. Having these chests doesn’t make the game pay to win but with an endgame and a true ending that has so much grinding that Tony Hawk would say no, but it strongly tempts you into buying these chests.
Overall, Middle-Earth: Shadow of War is a great game and a deserved successor to Shadow of Mordor. The little changes in the orc dialogue and gameplay really do counter its flaws and the orc characters are more memorable then the humans.
With the recent controversy over microtransactions and the grindy end game, it is a real shame that some people aren’t going to play this game. It’s not exactly pay to win but at times it feels like it. The nemesis system came back with a bang and is still a great part of the game, I personally can wait to 100% the game… without microtransactions.
While the nemesis system, orcs, and world are all amazing, the slow first act, microtransactions, humans and lack of detail when compared to Talion really show the flaws. Despite all that, Middle-Earth: Shadow of War is still a great game and I have had a lot of fun with my playthrough.