A Sequel Full os Mistakes
Shadow of War enhances the nemesis system, adding forts to the mix, where you can have control of a big fortress in each map of the game. These fortress are contested by siege battles, in which you play just a flat out war of hundreds of orcs controlled by you against hundreds of orcs controlled by Sauron. Sometimes you are the attacker, trying to destroy their gates and brake in, sometimes you're the defender. That's the coolest addition to the game, siege battles are the best part to play. But that's it, that's the list of positives in comparison to the first game.
I was impressed by how much work was put into the orcs/uruk captains to make them unique, just like in the first game, but this time if felt they had even more enemy designs and variation. Each of them seemed to have an unique set of characteristics, one might be always mad, another one would always have drool coming out of his mouth, while his blood brother would be afraid of spider or fire. All those unique things from the first game, with a bit more options. But man, they show up every time, I don't think I had an 1v1 fight - not counting the common orcs around - against a Captain this whole game. Always, either another enemy or an orc ally would show up, most of the time, the fighting would have 5 or more people fighting. Your character keeps hitting your allies, you can't see the counter-attack promps, it becomes a mess, you take a whole lot a damage without being able to response. It can be really frustating.
One thing that I think it doesn't repeat even once during the game is the intro dialogue of each orc captain, they always have something to say, to introduce them, when they see you in the battlefield. But man, some of those take a long time to end, sometimes you just want to finish the guy you're fighting with, and another orc shows up and keeps talking for like 10+ seconds and his 10 levels under you, you just want him to be done so you can keep playing.
The worst part about the game is the protagonist, damn Talion is just a bad character, and the Elf lord who is still infused in his body - Celebrimbor - has both, the worst name ever and the worst dialogues ever. Doesn't matter what one of them says, the other HAS to disagree, even if it doesn't make sense at all to even be a conversation. The side characters are, for the most part, also uninteresting and bad. To make it all of this even harder, the game has a really slow start, you're not powerful at all at the start of the game. You'll have to level up for some time to start having fun in the combat, where you can finish a bunch of guys quickly, but at least that does give you a good sense of progression, making it feel like Talion is getting more powerful, each time.
When the game first opens up, I've felt kind of overwhelmed by the map, there's no way someone could understand everything that was being showed there, at first. I had no idea where to go first, what to do next and all of that. But at least they gave us one of my favorite things in video games that are everything separated in lists, colectables, main quests, side quests, and each part of it, with a percentage of progression, I love when games do that. Each story arc has it's on line of quest for you to go through, and boy, some of them are bad. It came to a point that I just skipped some cutscenes, and I'm not a person that usually does that. At least you know in which part of the story you're getting into, before picking up the quest. The game suddenly becomes just a checklist of things, that a lot of people do enjoy, but not for the amount of time they intended for this game.
Despite all the negativity that I've written untill now, I can't go lower the 3-stars for this game. The presentation is just too good! The enemie design is one of the best in video games, everyone of them feel unique. The forts design is also amazing, each have it's own personality, making the siege battles even better. The kills in this game are still awesome, some brutal blows with gory results. And each time you go after a orc Captain that has a higher role in their army, they all have a chant of their name by the common soldiers that give a good atmosphere as well, just another great thing on the production value, for each name created.
A couple of nice things are the return of the Online Vengeance, where you can hunt an orc captain that killed someone from your friends list that played the game. Giving some extra content for the game, despite it not needing any more. They also have some AI vs AI battles, where you can send one of your controlled captains to fight an enemy captain, or you can send him to fight one of the online friends as well. You can even siege a fort of your friends. So if you want to spend 50+ hours in this game, they got you covered. They make it very simple also to distinct the orcs, the enemies all have red details in their armor, and when you mind control them, all the details turn blue. Same thing when it comes to the fort details, it's just a nice video game thing, that makes it easier for us.
Another thing that you can do to the mind of the orcs is to shame them, making their level go down, because Talion can't control an orc that has a higher level them him. But sometimes, the orc gets so traumatized by your shame, that he can go crazy. It happened to me a couple of times, I used shame in an orc captain and he just went completely brain damage, losing his ability to speak. He just made some grunts and screamed after that, it was so bizarre to see, but awesome at the same time.
The combat is the same, a conter-attack focused combat, with a parkour focused exploration - this time you can pretty much climb anywhere, which is awesome - and a lot of stealth options. Speaking of stealth, this game is still one of the best out there when it comes to stealth, it's forgiving in a way that doesn't break it, it offers you a bunch of variety on how to approach it, and it's fast, what makes it hell of fun. They added an equipment system, where you'll be able to equip weapons, armor and a ring, each of them having a level that increases their stats, giving an RPG lair to the game. The stealth isn't affected by that, you'll always instantly kill common orcs, just captains that most of the time survive to your assassination attempts.
I think this is a risky game to recommend, if you just want a mindless open-world action game, where you can go on full killing spree and/or parkour madness, it can be fun. Specially if you're a lover of the Tolkien world, and medieval settings at all. Despite the licensed focus parts of the story having some hand-fisted characters and lore. But hey, you can just skip the cutscenes. Just go for the regular version if you want, no need for the complete edition. But rent it if you can, or play in a free weekend or something like that.