It’s not often that video game sequels live up to the impact made by their predecessors.
Yes, the likes of Batman: Arkham and Uncharted have proven otherwise in recent years, but often, an improvement in graphics and gameplay isn’t coupled with the ‘wow factor’ that made the original a success.
Examples of franchises that have faded into obscurity are Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty – these games are long overdue for reboots.
Middle-earth, however, is no mere flash in the pan. Shadow of War is a worthy successor to Shadow of Mordor, and is an improvement in every aspect. Prepare for that wow factor – by the bucket-load.
The first game left Tolkien fans craving more. It simply touched on his legendarium, and left an itch that desperately needed to be scratched.
Following on from that game’s somewhat underwhelming ending – it’s only real flaw – Talion and Celebrimbor remain bound to one another in their quest to destroy Sauron.
Mordor has been opened up to them, and it’s time to build an army capable of felling the Dark Lord’s legions.
New allies, new enemies, and those who parade as both, complicate matters, but compliment the rich expansion of Tolkien lore on offer.
Talion’s relationships are complex, conflicting and utterly complicated by the very real voice inside his head. Celebrimbor’s ego has grown, and it’s just a matter of time before a lovers’ quarrel turns into something far more devastating.
Overall, the story is a definite cure for that itch, and a worthy addition to the Lord of The Rings universe.
Building on its predecessor’s impressive ‘orc captain’ mechanic, Shadow of War has introduced the “Nemesis System”, which takes Talion’s control of an army to a whole new level.
‘Purified’ captains can now be ordered to wreak havoc among Sauron’s ranks, while Talion hacks-and-slashes his way through hordes of ugly, brutal grunts.
Not much has changed with regards to fighting mechanics, but then again – you can’t really improve on perfection.
The ‘Skills’ system has, however, been improved and greatly expanded. A new addition is the ability to embed gems in weapons, greatly augmenting their strength or giving Talion health and wealth benefits.
New monsters, new collectibles and new allies complete the package, and trust me – the scale of this game will keep you busy for weeks.
There’s really not much to complain about when it comes to the game’s visual capabilities. The settings are stunning and divers, ranging from haunted forests to desolate wastelands, all rendered superbly.
Although Talion’s walk-abouts are limited to a set map, his movements are glitch-free. Dialogue is smooth, with excellent facial expressions, and cutscenes are glorious, perfectly capturing the sheer awesomeness of Tolkien’s Middle-earth.
If, like me, you have lost sleep in anticipation of this game, you should know something – it’s better than you could have ever expected.
Shadow of War is an improvement on its predecessor in every way, especially for die-hard LOTR fans, who are treated to a rich mythos worthy of addition to the legendarium of Middle-earth.