Gamesplanet Review Round Up: Middle-earth: Shadow of War
Journey back to Middle-earth again
There have been a number of Tolkien inspired Lord of the Ring games over the years, some great and some let-downs. Then in 2014 a new third person open world game from Monolith Productions arrived and it quickly gained fame as one of the best LOTR games ever made. Now three years on the sequel Shadow of War is looking to continue the Journey into Middle-earth with new mechanics, an expanded open world, an improved Nemesis system and more to do in general. The story once again will see Talion and Celebrimbor forge their own Ring of Power as take on the Dark Lord Sauron. With an army at their disposal they are able to make a bigger impact on the world, but can they put an end to Sauron once and for all? So how has the sequel shaped up among the critics, and more importantly, how is the PC version? We take a look at what's being said on the latest adventure to Middle-earth.
Let's find out what's being said about Shadow of War in the media!
No one will ever spot me up here.
Starting our journey into Middle-earth Shadow of War is the review from IGN who awarded the game a mighty 9.0 out of 10. One of the biggest additions to the sequel is the vast open world zones, you'll be able to travel to 5 in total and each one is distinct in the way it looks and feels. For example you will start in the city of Minas Ithil before it fell to corruption and became under Sauron's control. There's also a volcanic zone, a swampy green zone and even an icy zone which are great to explore the ruined areas that litter the areas. While much of the zones are large and gorgeous to look at (especially on PC with the high resolution texture pack), most of them play in the same way and creatures/enemies do not change up much. Each of Shadow of War’s five zones looks markedly different, and fast-travelling between the icy mountains of Sergost to the green swamps of Nurnen and the volcanic Gorgoroth gives it a good sense of variety. Getting around each zone can be made easier by the "fast travel" towers that can be unlocked as you progress.
Next we have the review from PC Gamer, who were blown away with the improved Nemesis System for the game. Like Shadow of Mordor before it, Shadow of War adds a Nemesis system that can change the way you approach things. As you travel in the world you will come face to face with Orcs, each one is unique and various types will challenge you. How you deal with them can impact future encounters, nothing is forgotten. Should you decide to become friends with certain Orcs then they may assist you in battle - but if you decide to kill one or shame it then they could come back even stronger than before. This time you can even engage in epic battles against Fortresses after you've built up an army and taken down enough defences. These battles are wonderfully chaotic and you can join the fray, making use of siege machines and helping your soldiers gain territory by capturing victory points. The game was given 73 out of 100.
Look at the mess you've made.
God is a Geek were so impressed with the game they gave it a perfect 10 out of 10 score. In Shadow of War you're given new ways to get around the world, there's a real sense of freedom when you're able to scale large walls by leaping from ledge to ledge that feels epic, and like the Assassin's Creed games leaping from the top is exhilarating.Moving about is liberating, such as having Elven Agility to run extra fast or having the Shadow Strider ability to double jump up buildings and through the air, making it much easy to stay on rooftops and get away from huge Orc onslaughts. Combat has also received an upgrade and you're able to pull off some Matrix style "Dodge This" moments while you leap between Orcs, or if you're a stealth player you can chain together some great finishers. The game features multiple skill trees with their own tiers of upgrade, picking one may make things easier early on and finding the right set of skills will be a personal choice.
Lastly we have the review from Game Informer. Another new addition to Shadow of War will be the random loot that is found after defeating certain Orcs or doing a specific task, these come in 4 variety levels: Common, Rare, Epic and Legendary. Gear can be upgraded via certain challenges and each one may have a unique trait on it. There's also set bonuses which are given to sets of Legendary items that further boost your skills in battle. Weapons and armour often have entertaining abilities which improve if you proactively fulfil the challenges that each demand, such as landing headshots on five burning foes. They were also impressed with the latest entry into Middle-earth that it received a high rated 9.5 out of 10.
I can see my house from here!
So in closing the latest Middle-earth: Shadow of War goes further than the original game in many ways, an improved combat system, more variety of Orcs to find and new locations to explore all add to the overall experience with the game. While true that some of the game feels a little clunky and unpolished, what the game has is more than enough to warrant a romp into Middle-earth for the second time (or first time if you have not previously played Shadow of Mordor).
Loot boxes were also a big stir in the community and after playing the game personally for around 7 hours, I can safely say that they make no difference to the experience at all. You can avoid spending any money on boxes at all if you so wish, all they do is allow you to get some new followers, gear or even limited duration boosts to speed up your levelling. While I do not agree with Single Player games having loot boxes, they are not forced on you and should not detract from the enjoyment of the game.
I was extremely happy with Shadow of War, after struggling to finish Shadow of Mordor previously it felt like a breath of fresh air, and like Watch_Dogs 2 it gives the series a much needed boost. Really looking forward to seeing where the series goes in the future, if they do another it would be nice to see more lands of Middle-earth and a greater variety of enemies.
If you're a LOTR or Hobbit fan and a fan of Open World Action games, you will definitely enjoy this game.
– Craig Bishop