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Shadow of War

Game Review

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“Middle Earth: Shadow of War” is a sequel, and despite ending the previous game (“Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor”) by defeating the main villain in one of the simplest final boss fights of all time, things in the “Lord of the Rings” universe seem to have gotten worse. The first act of the game is spent in the Gondorian border city of Minas Ithil, and as most cities experience in “Lord of the Rings”, it is being sieged by orcs. The amount of time the story spends in the city is frustrating at times for the sole reason of being confined to that location until you finish the first act of the story and caused some of the gameplay to develop really slowly. However, once you are allowed to roam as you see fit, a plethora of options are thrown at you that are a refreshing upgrade from the first game.

Despite the fluid gameplay, the selling point for most people is the game’s location in the “Lord of the Rings” universe. It took nearly 50 years for a movie to be made of the books. Fans of the series, myself included, had been yearning for an open-world game to be made until “Shadow of Mordor” was released in 2015 and won multiple game of the year awards. The sequel did exactly what it needed to keep fans interested; “Shadow of Mordor” has more than doubled the amount of world space from the first game and has added to the gameplay options.

“Shadow of War” continues one of the first game’s best attributes-diverse gameplay. The game offers more than just sword combat, but also an intricate system of orc captains called the “Nemesis System.” While this system was heavily utilized in the first game, it is taken to the next level in “Shadow of War.” The variety of orc personalities and interactions has increased exponentially from the first game which not only adds to gameplay, but the depth of the orcs that you are fighting. Also, sometimes orcs can come back after you kill them which is a little frightening the first time it happens.

Another major gameplay focus is branding enemy orc captains to have them join your army. With the addition of enemy forts that you can siege with your army, branding orcs is a necessity. DIfferent captains have different strengths and weaknesses, and bring various advantages to your siege. Branded captains can be given a number of duties such as being your bodyguard, infiltrating a fort, dueling an enemy captain and others. Captain were incredibly valuable in the previous game, but in “Shadow of War,” the value of branding and not killing captains cannot be overstated.

Despite “Shadow of War” being an improvement across the board, microtransactions are included even with the fact that it is a single-player game. Loot boxes that include high-level orc captains makes the game easier to complete if you pay extra money and also takes away from putting in time and effort to acquire good captains through playing the game.

“Shadow of War” proves to be a big step up from its predecessor in almost every facet of the game. “Shadow of War” is a must buy for all Lord of the Rings fans and even people who aren’t familiar with the franchise can find a fun and somewhat casual introduction to it. Rating: 8.5/10

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