Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for the Mortal Men doomed to die
One for the Dark Lord on his throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
If these words do not send shivers down your spine, or worse yet, if you do not know where this is from … please … I, with the rest of the world, urge you to educate yourself with some excellent literature. Yes, Nibblers, exams are done, holiday season is upon us and I can finally write this review on the second installment in the Middle-Earth game series.
Celebrimbor and Talion Are Back
Ok before I continue with this review, let me say one thing. Celebrimbor is probably the most awesome name I know and if I can, I would name my first born that. But back to our virtual lives and not our real ones, you are back as Talion, Ranger of Gondor partnered with the wraith Celebrimbor to bring down the forces of Sauron in Middle-Earth.
The game picks up from where it left off in Shadow of Mordor, but do not fret if you have not played that game, as a small recap is given in the beginning of the game. BUT … I highly recommend you do play it, if you have not already. Without spoiling anything, Talion and Celebrimbor forge a new Ring of Power to fight Sauron and thus the story continues. You are introduced to new characters, better gameplay mechanics, a larger open world to explore and dominate and a storyline that ties together with the movies and novels almost seamlessly.
Fight, Dominate, Rule
With the new Ring of Power at your disposal, you are tasked to build an army and destroy Sauron’s forces. Sounds familiar right? That’s because Shadow of Mordor had the same idea in mind. But do not think for one second that this game is the same style as its predecessor. Developers Monolith Productions have made gigantic changes to the game.
For starters, Shadow of War is an RPG game, no doubt about it. It’s not a matter of playing as Talion, fighting a bunch of Orcs and kicking the living snot out of Sauron’s evil behind. No, you have upgrades to weapons, gear and even rarity to each of these items, some being better and worse than others. Having said that I have to make a note of something I really appreciate, when you have a custom look on your character, whether it be a different sword, clothing attire or anything different, it is really awesome to see that a cutscene will play with your currently equipped gear. So kudos to that WB!
But back to the game … boasting the larger map, the nemesis system took a nice bump. It is more interactive, and more detailed. You can choose which dominated Orc will lead a specific type of charge against the stronghold you are about to take over. It is with this I have to say that the game is aptly named. One of the best parts of this game is the creatures you can dominate. No longer are we subject to riding Caragors, but we can ride Drakes (dragons) and Graugs. Like I said, the game is aptly named. Each of beasts have their strengths and weaknesses and each Orc reacts to them differently taking the gameplay of this game to a new level once again.
Give In, Resist, Obey
What would a modern day game be without any microtransactions? That’s easy, it’s called The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. But sadly Shadow of War has microtransactions in the game that yes, you can get better weapons, and stronger followers and all that jazz. But you know what? The beauty of this game, is that if you are willing to put in the work … yes work, you do not have to spend a single cent in beating the game. With that being said, I hope EA take notes from this and learn.
But I digress, although the game kept me busy for a long time, with its storyline, gameplay and ruling of each stronghold, at times I found it repetitive, but that is because of the amount of work I had to put it. My play style was to dominate every single Orc before I took on the leader, and that is why it took me a long time to complete this game. But I will not lie, it was fun… waking up in the morning, thinking about how I am going to take over the next stronghold while completing the storyline.
Follow the story or diverge ?
The nice thing about Shadow of War, is that although the storyline is linear (meaning you have to complete previous missions and complete certain requirements to continue and progress) there are multiple missions with different characters that advance the story in an absolutely brilliant way.
I love Tolkien’s Middle-Earth trilogies and the games that have been produced are spectacular. Although it felt a bit repetitive at times, the game kept me hooked, kept me engaged and kept me coming back for more each and every day I played it. The microtransactions sounded like a deal-breaker, but realizing you can complete the game without spending a cent makes it a brilliant RPG for any fans and any gamers to play.
The best part of this game is the ending … and I am talking about completing all acts of the game. I will not spoil this, but all I will say is that this game ties into the movie perfectly. And once you see this, the poem written at the begin of this review makes more sense than ever.
Here is some gameplay footage on PS4 done by yours truly.
Find it on Steam
For R 929.00 on Steam