Middle Earth: Shadow of War - Stripped
Updated: Mar 27, 2020
Monolith Productions Middle Earth: Shadow of War hit the shelves this September followed by a whole lot of excitement from gamers happy see a sequel to Shadow of Mordor. Unfortunately the game’s release was clouded with bad reviews due to a microtransaction system that really didn’t impact the game a whole lot. Eager to delve into the world of Orc branding madness I stepped into the game immediately. Shadow of War is like a fat speedball of Heroin, immediately it’s amazing and you feel great. After the excitement fades you’re left with a feeling of wanting, wanting what you had at the beginning. But because it’s not an actual drug, Shadow of War just leaves you with that empty feeling.
In this review we’ll be going over what I thought this game did well, and what it really came short on.
The combat is just a more refined version from Shadow of Mordor, you’ve got the same basics but with a few more specialty things you can do through the talents tree. It’s fun, it’s quick, it’s immersive. I loved the combat of Mordor, and I still love the combat in War. From using the glaive to slice open a half moon of enemies around you to chaining 6 stealth kills through wraith form you can usually approach most situations how you want.
Make sure that you like the combat of this game, because it is the game. If you played Shadow of Mordor and didn’t like how Talion handled while fighting orcs, you’re going to have a real bad time in Shadow of War.
The Story & Pacing
Shadow of War’s story is an upgrade in several ways. The game gives you a few more characters at a time to care about. You’ve got the Gondorians, Shelob, Golem, Bruz, Ratbag, and others. It’s still eerily similar to Shadow of Mordor but I felt the story was a little more cohesive and interesting this time around.
Shelob’s memory fragments give a little more insight into Sauron and make the open world scavenger hunts a little more bearable.
The story’s pacing is fairly decent but it’s gated by a whole lot of missions that feel like repeats. After you get through the first half of the game the second starts to drag on. You start to feel as though you’ve done all this same stuff before. It moves from being exciting to find the Gondorian treasures, Shelob fragments, and recreating Celebrimbor’s past feats to being a drag. You never want to see another one again.
The number of strongholds is high enough that you start to get annoyed having to brand more Uruks and start another Orc coup. The Orc’s intro scenes start to become annoying and you just end up wanting to put the game down for a while. It took me a long time to actually finish this game because I couldn’t do it all in one sitting. I needed to take a break with other games before I came back to smash through the remaining strongholds and story missions. The game really could have worked on some variety to keep the whole process a little more interesting. The games replay value takes a major hit, because I can’t see myself coming back to play this game in a long time.
The game really does have great visuals, some of the landscapes are beautiful, some of them are horrifying. The Uruks are all disgusting and horrifying, taking what Mordor did and adding onto it. The faces and armor of the Uruks brings a lot of life to the game. It’s all rendered in quite a bit of detail, which can be seen in the closeups.
Talion and the Gondorians all look great, the level of detail in their facial expressions is quite a bit better than the previous installment. Cutscenes with Shelob and Sauron are beautiful, if there’s one thing this game did completely right, it’s the visuals. I was never disappointed in them.
The microtransactions that were a large deal initially never seemed to be a large problem. The game was easily played without them, I never once bought one and didn’t really think about it as I was playing. Getting a few epic and legendary orcs won’t help you to the extent you think it will. Normal Uruks will still crush Epic and Legendary ones if the matchup is right.
If you want to spend money on more Uruks you can, and that option is there, but it’s not going to be a huge pay to win advantage and I would advise you to just ignore that feature and only buy the chests with the in game currency. You’ll do just fine.
All in all the game was fun, but fell short in too many ways. It gets repetitive and boring once you make that halfway point. And if the game requires you to take a break to regain interest I think that there are definitely improvements that need to be made.
That said, if they just varied up the missions a little more that problem would be gone. The visuals and story are well crafted, the combat is fun, and the Uruks are famously disgusting.
Even with the boredom factor I still thought it was a good game, one that would be a great pick up if it goes on a decent sale.
BNG gives this Shadow of War a: