Make friends with orcs, then destroy orcs, all while protecting your orcs from bad …..ORCS!
Middle-Earth: Shadow of War
Systems: PlayStation 4, Xbox one, PC
Developer: Monolith Studios
Publisher: Warner Bros.
Rated: Mature 17+
Sneaking up to the orc encampment which holds one of the captains (Horza the Crafty), I carefully make my way up to the roof, dispatching any orc archers with my bow and arrow who get in my way. I then take control of a few of the orc’s minds leaving myself with some archer support in case this assassination fails. I then locate the captain surrounded by a group of shielded escorts, this will not be easy. Positioning myself above Horza the Crafty and getting in position to dive in for what I hope is a quick kill. As I dive in, I soon realize that not only is Horza the Crafty vigilant to stealth, but that he gets enraged by it… lovely.
My sneak attack turns into a big brawl right in the middle of the camp leaving me with no other option then to flee. If I was smarter in that instance, I would have gained info from other orcs and found out more about Horza’s weaknesses. Fast forward to later in the game, and because I had chosen to flee Horza the Crafty has now gotten smarter and stronger. Even to go as far as to ambush me while I am minding my own business, just out exploring the world of Mordor. These are just a few of the things that make this game beautiful.
Middle Earth Shadow of War is the sequel to Middle Earth Shadow of Mordor set in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings (LOTR) universe. Personally I’m not sure how much of the story in the game is considered canon within the LOTR universe. But that’s not what drew me to the game, for the rest of the breakdown I will not be giving away any game story spoilers for those who wish to discover them on their own. Instead all you need to know is we still play as Talion, just like in the previous game Shadow of Mordor. Talion is still possessed by the Elven spirit Celebrimbor (ridiculously silly name). With some story events that happen during game play we now have to raise an orc army of our own to fight back against the Dark Lord Sauron and his minions.
The game play is the meat of any video game and here it delivers a nice open sandbox game, maybe not on the same levels as Skyrim or Grand Theft Auto, but big enough to have fun. Your able to kill orcs however you wish, and maybe always dreamed of (if that’s your thing). The Nemesis system is the real focus and superstar of this game for me. What is the nemesis system? Well, the nemesis system is how all the orcs evolve throughout the game. For example if a lowly level grunt ends up killing you, he’s then promoted to a captain becoming one of your nemesis along the way. Even killing a captain is not necessarily the end of them, as they may be brought back by the dark powers that are Mordor and show up when you least expect it. Orcs also evolve as you fight them, for example: use a bow too much and they become arrow proof. Some Orcs, like my friend Horza are immune to stealth attacks and other things making you have to adapt to new strategies sometimes on the fly. Talion is also no newbie when it comes to combat as he is loaded with skills and abilities of his own.
Talion has quite a lot of skills and abilities at his disposal, from crazy fun executions in the midst of combat, to possessing an orc and having the orcs to fight for you. Being a sandbox game you are free to carry out your missions how you see fit. So if you would rather just walk right on into a battle and start cleaving with your sword this game lets you do just that. All while having a good time with plenty of other options available for you. You also have a bow and dagger if you would prefer to soften your foes up or thin numbers of orcs before going into any kind of prolonged combat. The player also has access to a bunch of wraith/ghost like abilities, thanks to Celebrimbor (still funny name). Such as throwing ghostly daggers while in combat or being able to blind and stun multiple enemies, even teleport around during combat from enemy to enemy. There is many more skills available and each skill can be mini customized through experience.
But what to use these powers on?
Sieges are where you take on fortresses owned by orc overlords scattered throughout the game with the help of orcs you have recruited into your army. Aiming to conquer and kill the overlords of each fortress can be hard at first unless (unlike me) you planned ahead and killed or befriended the overlords war chiefs. For each war chief killed or recruited it will lower the fortress defenses by taking out traps or an types of enemies. You also get to upgrade your siege by spending Mirian (games currency) found and earned throughout the game. With Mirian you are able to upgrade your orcs for combat with armor or better weapons. With each siege you will be fighting your way to the throne room, where the epic battle with the orc overlord happens. If successful, you will get to promote one of your orc captains to become overlord of the new area to defend it while you continue your journey to a new area of the game and story. Only drawback is your want more sieges.
Now this wouldn’t be a video game breakdown if I didn’t at least cover some of the technical side of this game.
So lets begin with the graphics and sound.
Honestly, the graphics are pretty good, orcs look creepy realistic while oddly still fun to gawk at. Getting to see some of the minor details on each orc as he makes fun of you or belittles you is kinda awe-inspiring. Limbs are replaced with weapons if it’s an orc captain that escaped, while it becomes obvious how some orcs gained their nam. As for sound quality, I gotta say its good, or at least decent enough that I was always too immersed in the game to pay attention to it. Which is a plus in my book. Depending on your sound system at home it will just be even more immerse-ful (if that’s even a word). I will say when your sword collides with an orc captain on the ps4 you can hear the clashing sounds coming from the controller….yeah that’s pretty cool.
This game is fun and even though it’s probably not worth the price of $59.99 unless you are a big fan of LOTR or the first game Shadow of Mordor, it is worth owning or playing if you can wait out the price or find it cheaper. As for replay value, it’s there. Maybe not for the story, but there is a lot there for any completion-ist gamers who wanna explore and find all the little artifacts scattered through the game once the story is done. I have mentioned the a couple times already story is not my favorite part and to me its a con, only because it easily forgotten while out exploring. I am almost done with the story and I honestly cant remember a lot of it because its only something I do when I want to unlock a new part of the map. One thing I have been forgetting to mention is that there are micro-transactions…..and before some of you curse me for not mentioning this first. I gotta say this is an easy thing to ignore in this game. Don’t be fooled though they are there for any of you who see this as an instant failure of a game. I do promise however that if you forget that this game has micro-transactions and just play and have fun you will have a better time all around, micro-transactions poison games if you let them.
There is so much more I could go on about Shadow of War but this review is starting to get long and I’ve touched on the basics of the game hopefully without giving any story spoilers away. At the time of this review I have not finished the story because like any sandbox game I play, I get sidetracked very VERY easily. I’ll be wondering over to start the next mission and BOOM… ambushed by some orc captain or some cool collectible I’d rather get shows up. I will have to say this game is an easy buy for me, but if any of you out there need more info comment below or e-mail us here at Reality Break Gaming. We are happy to answer any questions about this game or others, otherwise happy gaming everyone!
- Nemesis System
- Story (easy to forget)
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