Middle Earth: Shadow of War – Review

Ever since I played Shadow of Mordor, I’ve always wanted another game in the series, I love the middle earth lore and setting, I think of it as one of those games that I can sit and play for hours and it can take me away, I’m not in our world anymore with all my troubles of work and life, I’m slaying orcs and Uruks with my Wraith sidekick.

That’s something that I don’t see from my office window, it’s something that I can’t relate too in real life…. ‘Oooh, bobs annoyed the Uruks across the street again, the caragors on the loose’… It doesn’t happen, that’s why I love these type of games. Don’t get me wrong, something like GTA, Watchdogs etc that I have the potential to see from my office window, are excellent, no denying it, but drifting to a fantasy world and forgetting all those problems is just bliss.

Shadow of War continues where Mordor finished off, Talion and Celebrimbor are creating a new ring to help them take on Sauron, however, Shelob comes in at the start and takes the Wraith hostage… She wants the ring, Talion agrees to give it to her for Celebrimbors release. Which all goes well here, Celebrimbor is released but not happy that the ring they just created has now been given away.

This is where the game starts. As with the first game you have to take on Uruk captains dotted throughout the world to try and bring down Sauron’s Army. From the start when you get into the world you can see how impressive this game is, the setting, the area, the detail that has gone into it is simply stunning. Especially the lighting when you’re in Minis Ithil, that skyline is jaw-droppingly beautiful and the detail that have gone into the entire area, from the mountainous backdrop to the town itself is brilliant and the world is alive and well with plenty to do. What makes this better is that using photo mode you can capture all these beautiful backdrops and use them for your background on Xbox or Playstation.

There are lots of Uruks/Orcs that populate the world and when you fall into a stronghold you can find yourself in a spot of bother, as they just keep spawning and piling out of nowhere. I’ve found myself numerous times being surrounded by 100’s or Orcs/Uruks, and when you think you’re making a dent in the numbers, more will pour out, does seem like a losing battle at times, so I usually find myself running away and waiting for it all to die down (with a pint at the Winchester – Shawn of the Dead reference for those who didn’t know ;)). I will usually go back there after a while, especially if I had been looking for something such as an Ithildin Door or Shelob memory.

These are part of what you can collect within the world. Ithildin doors are located in the barrows and are sealed by a poem. You have to collect the missing words from around the world and then put the words in the correct order to the poem. The door will then open to give you a legendary piece of armour.

Shelob’s memories are as they say on the tin, once put back together they show you an image of…. Shelob’s memories… I don’t really know how else to say that….

There are also little quests within the worlds that you can complete once you have opened up certain skills. These are more of a trainer for when you unlock the skill through a skill point and need to learn how to use it effectively. I will say my life in the game completely changed when I unlocked Elven Rage…. I love it when it’s fully charged and I can go full on at enemies, although I save this more for captains etc as they are harder to beat, so it makes it a little easier to get through them.

Skill points can be earned when doing quests or when Talion levels up. You can use these on whatever skills you have unlocked, and some of these skills will be unlocked automatically by completing story missions, others by ranking up Talion by doing in world missions/quests.

One thing I liked about this game is that it didn’t throw everything at you within the first world. It allowed you to go at your own pace and learn the game in your way, then when you moved on to other locations more was to be thrown at you, which again was the same, it allowed you to learn and master this section before adding more when moving on.

Mechanically, the game plays very well, fighting waves and waves of Orcs/Uruks can be immensely satisfying, especially when you get a string of hits and blocks together, it just feels and flows so smoothly, a trait that I loved about the first game as well. It does have its moments where I’m trying to run away and want to jump up onto a building and Talion decides he’s going to roll instead, but other than that, it’s an irritant that I can live with.

I love being able to get new weapons and armour, upgrade the ones I have if I get a legendary and want to keep hold of it. It adds a bit more depth to the game, giving weapons and armour a purpose, knowing that the further I get into the game that I’m going to have to get higher ranked weapons if I want to compete effectively. Also, being able to add gems and forge them into the weapons and get extra benefits such as 15% better damage or loot is a good little addition.

Just like the first one though, the game can get a bit repetitive especially after doing the main missions within an area, you’re left on clean up missions of memories and ithildin door words. Like I said earlier, new things are added which kind of helps, but they do also just add to the grind, which can put people off from fully exploring a world and just doing the main missions.

Shadow of War is a very good game and is a step up from Shadow of Mordor, it’s beautiful and plays very well. There are repetitious elements to the game, but I think a lot of open world games like this have that element to them. If you’re into your Middle Earth and loved Shadow of Mordor, I would highly recommend this. Even if you weren’t and wanted to try something different, give this game a go.