It’s no secret that Middle-Earth Shadow of Mordor was a huge critical hit when it release 3 years ago. A lot of critics were praising it’s fun combat, overwhelming large map, interesting RPG elements and the revolutionary Nemesis system. However, if you might recall from my own review, I wasn’t as big of a fan. The game was fun and had a lot of interesting mechanics, but I couldn’t see it as the mega smash hit that the community was making it out to be. When Shadows of War was first announced, I was understandably curious, but also very cautious.
Previously on “Middle-Earth”…
The game starts off pretty much directly where the first one ended. Having never finished the first game, I was very grateful for a nice little story recap. Your trusty wraith Celebrimbor (Elf names, am I right?) has been kidnapped by Shelob the Spider Queen. Having just finished forging a new ring, Talion sets off to find his elven friend and free him from the spider’s grasp. In the end, he trades his newly mint ring for freedom and the merry pair set off on their quest to save Mordor from Sauron.
Better Gameplay, Same Loose Controls
First thing I noticed when just starting playing, the game still controls like a pile of crap and still isn’t as responsive as I would like. One of my main gripes with this type of game (same goes with Witcher 3 and the Batman games) is that everything seem loose. There’s this very noticeable delay when performing an action and the character actually doing it. It took me a good 5 hours of playing the game until I really got comfortable with it. Even then, I would often miss ledges or roll around into a building rather than climbing it. I dream of a day where a game will release with the RPG elements of Shadow of War but with the tightness in controls of a Dark Souls game. I think I might cry… Actually just thinking about it is making me cry…
Hmm, sorry about that, back to the game! If you played the first Middle-Earth game, you won’t be too confused. A lot of the open world running around is very similar to what it was in the previous one: lots of fast travel points to unlock, uruks to murderize, cutscenes to watch, beasts to ride, etc etc. There’s really no shortage of things to do in Shadow of War. A lot of it also has a chance to give you awesome gear that looks just as awesome! I’m really glad they went with a set system as well. Meaning that if you have more than one item of the same set, you get more benefits from it. It’s a neat concept and it’s fun to see something like this appear in the game.
Where it got interesting and a bit different for me was when you finally unlock the fortress portion of the game. You basically get to pick and choose Uruk captains (that also have their levels of rarity like the items) and then go attack someone else’s fortress. It’s honestly SUPER fun; I had an awesome time rushing into the fight with hundreds of other Uruks beside me and kick massive green butt. You get a lot of new captains just by playing the game and advancing the story, so don’t get fooled into buying lootboxes to unlock them. In fact, you’ll get free boxes when you start off your adventure and the first thing I did was to destroy them to get item sets instead.
Let’s talk about the lootboxes real quick. They’re in the game, they don’t ONLY give cosmetic items, but they are 100% not necessary to your progress. In fact, an argument could be made that it makes Shadow of War less fun, removing the interesting part in acquiring the Uruk captains in the world rather than just unboxing them. It’s a controversial decision, it’s poorly executed, but you can ignore the lootboxes completely and it won’t hinder your play.
I Actually Liked This Game
To sum it up, the game is just plain fun. Once you get past the few controler snafus and learn to control Talion, it’s a solid open world RPG with a lot of things to do. I mean a LOT. You’re getting your 80 beaver dollars investment worth, that is for sure. If you’re a fan of The Witcher series, the Batman series or just Lord of the Rings in general, you’re going to have a good time and sink tons of hours in Mordor.
DISCLAIMER: Middle-Earth:Shadow of War review code was provided by WB Games. The opinions expressed in the article above have not be affected by, dictated or edited in any way by the provider. For more information please see Girls on Games’ Code of Journalistic Ethics.