Tuesday, 17 October 2017 18:29

REVIEW: Middle-Earth: Shadow of War (Xbox One)

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Back in 2014, Monolith Productions blessed us Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and to everyone's surprise, it was pretty amazing. It had the combat mechanics from the Batman: Arkham franchise, but with the addition of their “Nemesis” system. It’s now 2017 and Monolith has surprised us yet again with their long awaited sequel, Middle-earth: Shadow of War.

Middle-earth: Shadow of War takes place a short time after the events of Shadow of Mordor and once again follows the undead ranger Talion, who is fused with the spectre of Eleven ring-maker Celebrimbor who must track down the Sauron and the orc armies that killed his family.

Now, if you thought the size of the world was large in the first game, after a few hours in Shadow of War you’ll soon realise that it’s much larger this time around. The game also offers players even more points of interest, even more quests and collectables, along with all kinds of environmental objects to distract and take down orcs.

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As for combat, the combat system in the first games was already perfect in my eyes, but in Shadow of War, the combat is even better. Talion has dedicated buttons to perform strikes and counters which lets you quickly take down orcs, while charging up Talion’s special meter will allow him to unleash some deadly executions. As you play and work your way up the skill tree, Talion will start gaining access to even more moves and abilites. One thing Shadow of War does really well is it gives you the ability to approach each encounter however you like. If sneaking around an orcs camp silently taking them out one by one with your blade is something you feel like doing, you can do that. Or if you prefer to sit back with your bow taking out orcs with headshots is more up your alley, you can do that too. It’s entirely up to you how you play.

Getting around in the game is also a very easy to do. Just like in the the Shadow of Mordor, Shadow of War is an open-world action-adventure and uses a navigation system and exploring machinic very similar to Assassin’s Creed. And just like Assassin’s Creed, Talion can climb on nearly everything he sees, even if there isn’t any obvious hold points. Talion can also gain a quick burst of speed by double tapping the button after each land making him climb walls or buildings very quickly.

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Now keep in mind, you shouldn’t take out every orc that looks at you funny as one of your goals is to build your own army. Just like in the original game, Shadow of War’s “nemesis” system generates a hierarchy of high-level orc captains and as I mentioned before, you’ll want to build your own army because now the biggest addition to the ”Nemesis” system is its Forts. Every Fort owned by the antagonist can be reclaimed, so sometimes being able to “dominate” an injured orc captain is more ideal as it will bring them under your control. What this does is let you place spies into the system to betray the enemy. You’ll also be able to send you new friends off on missions to track down and kill other targets for you, or simply have them protect you as your own personal body guard.

Now, just before I finish up, I want to touch on the loot boxes that everyone online is going crazy over. While Players do have the option to purchase gold with real world money in order to purchase more boxes, I never once found myself needing to purchase a single box. Sure, while it’s a bit of a dick move to have them in there in the first place, they aren’t required at all and you'll come accross plenty of loot to collect on the battlefield.

In conclusion, Middle-earth: Shadow of War is a solid open-world action game that builds on it’s predecessor with a combat system that’s very satisfying along with a story that is fulfilling and engaging.

Additional Info

  • Review Score: 4.5 / 5.0
  • Release Date: Out Now
  • Platform: PC, PS4, XBOX ONE
  • Developer: Monolith Productions
  • Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Warner Bros. International Enterprises
  • Genre: Action / Adventure, Role-Playing