I am reviewing this game as a devotee of the Tolkien books, since I have read the Lord of the Ring series AND the Silmarillion.
As for the combo system, it is not as elegant as it is in Shadow of Mordor, since now there are Defenders and Olog-Hai who cannot be counterattacked. So, instead of building up combos in order to deliver major damages to the surrounding hordes, I have been left to bounce around, hoping that I do not get hit.
However, you do get to use Celebrimbor a lot more than you did in Shadow of Mordor, which is extremely helpful. Just as well, the orc submission is fixed, since there are no interruptions that are possible while trying to recruit orcs. Of course, there are catches. Sometimes an orc will resist recruitment, or an allied orc will betray you. Other times, an allied orc who is killed either in a tournament or any other circumstance may “escape death” by either betraying you or rejoining you.
A major upgrade from the predecessor is the Nemesis system, since now I could utilize the orcs under my control in order to recruit more orcs or get any goodies, like weaponry and armor. However, there are pitfalls, since the game never explains how an Olog-Hai and an Uruk-Hai can be blood-brothers, and the face that even resurrected orcs can betray you at any given moment.
There is also a lot of utility when it comes to the armor and weapons that Talion equips, since they ultimately influence how you fight enemies. In the case of this screenshot, I liked using the Marauder set, because I am a greedy man who likes my mirians. As for the benefits of that set, your attack power increases the more mirians you collect. There are many combinations that you can use for different types of armor and weapons, and the option to upgrade them.
They are quite solid for a Middle-Earth game, especially in places like the hellish Gorgoroth and the wintery Seregost. However, I do not like the night scenes, since I could barely see anything, which is definitely the curse of many a game.
The Uruk-Hai and the Olog-Hai are quite monstrous, as to be expected with the Tolkienian creatures and the developers definitely made it so. Whether it is their scaly skin or their lumbering gait, WB Games managed to capture the grotesquerie that Mordor has to offer.
The dialogue felt stilted, which is to be expected in a game that is supposed to be fast-paced, however I did not have time to actually care about the rest of the characters.
Just like Shadow of Mordor, Talion/Celebrimbor basically can amass an army of orcs through Moreauvian mind control by means of placing his hand upon the head of any orc and commanding them–or shaming them if they resist.
Bruz is definitely an interesting, heart-breakingly tragic Olog-Hai. He may be the only character who I actually like as a tutorial character.
As much as I did not like the over-the-top stand-offishness of Idril, I thought that Carnon and Shelob were a bit too sexualized in their real forms. The way that the female characters are portrayed felt as though there was a cynical disregard for the canon, since it seemed as though Warner Bros. was trying to pander to both the feminist and the edgelord audiences.
As for types of orcs that can be recruited, there does tend to be a creative depletion involved, since there are characters with cognomens like “The Complainer” or “The Screamer.” There was a bardic orc that I thought was entertaining enough to make a bodyguard in Cirith Ungol; however as more of those types of orcs started popping up, they just got more annoying. This leads me to comment on how unnecessarily long the orc introductions are, since they usually take up two blocks of speech.
I do not want to get into too much detail about whether this game is loyal to the canon, since I am usually more concerned with the experience of playing as opposed to the narrative.
Just like the characters, the plot is quite forgettable, since building up my armies was a much more interesting part of the game than the main plot. However, the king of Minas Ithril gives a pretty shallow explanation to the action that he would take that would influence the plot.
As for the ending, there was definitely a Sisyphean quality to it, since the game never gives a completely satisfying ending. It’s not a bad ending because it wasn’t desirable, rather it did not tie itself to the first game, especially since his family being murdered was the reason behind his journey and yet it is somehow forgotten in the second game.
Suggest This To…
- Any gamer interested in building an army of the damned. There are a lot more dynamics, options, and story involved in the Nemesis system than the one in the predecessor.
- Not to anyone who looked forward to the sequel to Shadow of Mordor. The only positive updates that I can give is Celebrimbor and the fact that you can actually build up an actual army of Orcs that can either attack or defend a fortress.
- Any fan of the books and the films. You will not be disappointed with flying a dragon or riding a Graug throughout these individually textured landscapes.
“Middle-Earth: Shadow of War.” WB Games. Monolith. 2017.
Image Attribution: Micky Milkyway
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