Giant Bomb Review

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Middle-earth: Shadow of War Review

3
  • PS4
  • XONE

This sequel expands on the vaunted Nemesis system in wildly entertaining ways, even as it falls short around the edges.

The best part of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor gets even better in the sequel, Shadow of War. The first game's dynamic "Nemesis" AI system had you fighting against an endless succession of named enemies who taunted you, remembered your exploits, and grew stronger on the backs of their victories over you. What would have been a competent but forgettable game in the open-world mold suddenly became a vehicle for an endless string of personalized run-ins with a bunch of grumpy orcs who seemed to hate you more every time they fought you, and never ran out of venomous new ways to let you know it. In Shadow of War, the Nemesis framework has been so thoroughly expanded that new twists on orc tactics, behaviors, and attitudes were still surprising me after dozens of hours, and the new game gives you even more exciting, hilarious, fun stories about your wild experiences to swap with other players than the first one. It took me half a dozen hours just to move on from the prologue area; I couldn't stop hunting down particular orcs who had wronged me, or just butting into the business they were conducting on their own.

Sadly that luster slowly fades over what ends up being a very long game, and Shadow of War never quite figures out how to build a focused, consistently engaging game around all the energy and dynamism of its elaborate AI machinery. There are so many different quests, challenges, menus, and details to keep track of that the whole thing frequently feels overwhelming, and some parts of the game are a lot more interesting than others. The main story missions are mostly simplistic and repetitive, and most of them fail to make use of what's unique about Shadow of War. In contrast to the dull story quests, Monolith has built a complex conquest and territory-control layer on top of the the Nemesis system that has you customizing teams of orcs, and investing in all kinds of army upgrades in order to take over and then defend several fortresses throughout Mordor. These conquests initially form the deepest and most exciting part of Shadow of War, but the game doesn't know when to quit making you conquer, and you'll likely get very tired of tediously leveling up your captains and defending the same strongholds from yet more randomly generated orcs long before you've seen the ending. (I know I did.) And that's assuming you don't decide to pay the publisher to just fast track better orcs into your game.

The new fortress conquest missions are big, noisy, varied, and exciting.
The new fortress conquest missions are big, noisy, varied, and exciting.

Shadow of War picks up right where the last game left off, with the undead ranger Talion and his angry elf-wraith head-mate Celebrimbor forging a brand spanking new ring of power so they can maraud across Mordor, murdering and enslaving orcs in an attempt to, uh, defend the good peoples of Middle-earth. Or maybe they're more interested in vengeance and power for its own sake? The game flirts with that topic but doesn't fully address it, instead acting as a Lord of the Rings clearinghouse for mostly ridiculous cameos and outlandish, fiction-defying scenarios. Shelob, the giant spider, takes the form of a sensuous lady in a slinky evening dress, because it's a video game. Gollum shows up randomly for a mission or two. Historical events and the roles of supporting characters from the timeline of Middle-earth are moved around and recast in contrived ways. Even the idea of casually popping out a new ring with which to be badass feels like power-fantasy absurdity, in a world where these rings are treated as distant, dangerous, and largely unknowable.

It's not all bad; there's some decent tension between Talion and Celebrimbor at a few points, and I like the weird line delivery of the earth spirit you ally yourself with. But in general I found myself rolling my eyes more often than not. The outlandish comic-book action of these games has always struck me as an odd fit for the melancholy, reserved work of Tolkien, though if you don't care one whit about the work of Tolkien in the first place then you also won't care that all of this is more than a little dumb. I still think attaching these games to a more freewheeling and juvenile fantasy setting like Dungeons & Dragons, or just inventing one out of whole cloth, would have freed them of this baggage and let them gleefully be as ridiculous as they obviously want to be.

Some surprisingly messed up stuff goes on with this guy.
Some surprisingly messed up stuff goes on with this guy.

As before, the real stars of this game are the orcs, and it remains a mystery how Monolith wrote and recorded enough lines of dialogue to generate dozens of them throughout your time with the game, having them show up and comment on an enormous range of scenarios, and still almost never repeat themselves. They have just as much personality as they did in the first game, and they now arrive in vastly greater permutations, with more and more outlandish getups and personality quirks as the game goes on. Want an orc who talks lovingly about the maggots that crawl over and through him, or one who bellows a tune while discordantly strumming a lute, or a giant troll covered in fur? Shadow of War has those and dozens more archetypes, and each orc now has both a character class and a tribe, which makes for a ton of variety in their behaviors. Each captain has a wide range of strengths, weaknesses, immunities, and fears that makes each fight unique, and they also have a seemingly bottomless bag of tricks to play on you, whether it's seizing your best weapon when they kill you, or showing up to avenge their blood brother when you attack them, or tracking you down, to save you the trouble, when you mark them in your menu as a target.

Monolith takes this expanded Nemesis system and stretches it across several different small open-world maps, each one with a fortress housing that area's most powerful orcs. In between story missions, your task is to explore each area and dominate as many orcs as you can, commanding them to carry out missions against other orcs, act as your bodyguard, and so forth on your way to building a strong enough assault force to finally take over the fortress itself. The fortress conquests are the coolest thing in this game, bar none. Each one has you capturing a series of control points on your way to breaching the inner keep and taking on the overlord who runs the whole show. Fortresses have a wide range of built-in defenses, from siege weapons to archers to boiling oil being poured over their walls, and taking control points nullifies these defenses--but also invites one of the fortress's powerful warchiefs into the fray.

But what if you went to the trouble of taking that warchief out before you started the conquest? He, and his associated defense, are already out of the picture. What if you designated one of your lower level orcs as a spy beforehand? He'll show up and backstab the warchief mid-battle. You can also invest in a wide array of assault upgrades of your own, from more powerful foot soldiers to beasts and siege upgrades, in addition to choosing which assault leaders you want to bring into battle. Having this many tactical options makes this aspect of Shadow of War almost feel like a strategy game, if not for the fact that you can usually overwhelm superior defenses just by playing really well once the action starts (though the effects of the decisions you make beforehand are plainly obvious either way). These fortress missions feel big and varied and exciting in a way the main story missions don't.

Building out your assault and defense forces is one of the more tactically engaging parts of the game.
Building out your assault and defense forces is one of the more tactically engaging parts of the game.

Shadow of War's story is actually laid out in an interesting way; rather than one long, linear sequence of quests, the missions are broken up into half a dozen categories that revolve around different little Middle-earth subplots, which have you bouncing back and forth between territories and which occasionally overlap with each other. The trouble is that almost none of what you're doing in these missions is particularly interesting. Most story quests have you ticking off lists of basic activities, following an NPC from place to place and killing a few orcs along the way, or (at best) taking part in simplified versions of the things you're already doing on the dynamic Nemesis side of the game. One of the quest lines in particular makes you carry out slight variations on the exact same objective something like four or five missions in a row. It almost feels like there are two halves to this game that are mostly unaware the other exists, and the story would have been dramatically better if Monolith had found a way to integrate it with the more dynamic parts of the game more elegantly.

In addition to broadening all the Nemesis stuff dramatically, Shadow of War also turns itself into a loot game, since you're continually picking up rare, epic, and legendary gear with slightly higher numbers from the orc captains. This certainly adds more variety to the progression treadmill, and since each new piece of gear comes with its own little challenge you need to complete to perfect it and unlock its full stats and perks, you've always got small goals to work toward in between the big missions. But like much else in Shadow of War, this starts to make the game feel cluttered and overly busy after a while. There are weapon challenges, regional challenges, daily challenges, numerous side missions and collectibles, endless Nemesis missions, orcs to level up... You'll end up spending more time than you may want slogging through multiple layers of menus, and managing your numerous armies of orcs in particular can become a huge chore. I can't believe I'm saying this, but the game would have benefited from a spreadsheet of sorts, to let you sort orcs by level or class or relationship, so you could more easily assign appropriate tasks to the dozens of warriors under your command.

There's no way around the dullness of Shadow of War's main quest, since you'll have to slog through all those bland missions to advance the story and unlock all the game's mechanics, but there's thankfully an entire other game's worth of fulfilling, dynamic action in carrying out Nemesis missions, dominating and pitting orcs against each other, building up your armies, and (ultimately) taking over those big fortresses. That's the real value of this game, and if you're able to overlook the game's flaws, it's well worth showing up for. The biggest knock against all the Nemesis stuff, however, is that eventually even it becomes repetitive as you trudge toward the finale. After you've finished the main quest line, the game forces you to keep grinding fortress defenses incessantly if you want to see the true ending, and by that time, you'll already have done a full game's worth of fortress defenses. It's a great system that eventually starts to feel a bit less great due to overuse and rote repetition.

There's a lot out there to conquer and defend, but you may get your fill of it before the game decides you're finished.
There's a lot out there to conquer and defend, but you may get your fill of it before the game decides you're finished.

With gear to equip and orcs to level up, it's not surprising in this year of our loot box 2017 that Warner Bros. is selling exactly those items to you in blind boxes--nor is it surprising that this has been by far the most controversial aspect of the game. Luckily they aren't particularly necessary or even remotely worth buying. You'll get a nonstop flood of character gear as you play the game--I rarely felt like I had time to settle on a given loadout before I was swapping it around--and there are in-game ways to boost the amount of experience and quality of loot you get, anyway. The one place you might feel pressured to spend money is in that long cycle of post-story fortress defenses, where you need stronger and stronger orcs to hold onto (or retake) all the bases you seized earlier. But by that time, I'd built up so much of the in-game currency that I was able to buy plenty of chests to dispense new orcs without dropping real cash. The bigger problem is simply that this mode exists in the first place, and that the game feels like it refuses to end. Whether the developer thought you'd actually want to replay these missions over and over for fun, or the running time was artificially extended to entice you into spending some money, I can't say (although since Monolith is going to offer an endless version of this mode soon, it's probably the former). The bottom line, though, is the game should end a bit sooner than it does, and once you reach the tedium of the Shadow War you may well be ready to just watch the full ending on YouTube and then walk away from the game.

Despite its flaws, there's a lot to like in Shadow of War. For the most part, the action is as sharp, varied, and fun as in the first game, with its blend of Assassin's Creed stealth and Arkham-style large scale combat. Since every captain has his own set of likes and dislikes, you'll keep finding clever new ways to exploit the mechanics to end a fight quickly--or have the fight end itself, as the various AI and combat systems grind against each other--although sometimes the battles get a little too big and the captains have a few too many immunities to be all that much fun to fight. This core action and the complex systems that underpin it are fun enough to play around with that it's a real shame that so many issues exist around the edges of this package, because those issues eventually started to diminish my enjoyment of the game's good parts. Shadow of War, like its predecessor, rests on a single gimmick, but it's a really good gimmick. When the action is at its best, with the gears of all those AI systems turning smoothly, it still offers an experience you can't get anywhere else.

Brad Shoemaker on Google+

122 Comments

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Santiako

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Seems about right.

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SpicyLionelRichie

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Good review.

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CountPickles

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I guess its a.... mixed bag

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doe3879

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Can't recall the last time Advertising/Marketing of something I'm interested in turns me so far away.

I was excited for the game, played the 1st game through stream family sharing and had fun with it.

Did had plan on getting this at one point, now it's all fainted. If it ever drop below 20/$10 i'll give it a go.

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larmer

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Even with all the issues I have with it I'm still enjoying it far more than Witcher 3, which is similar and got incredibly high reviews everywhere.

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steveurkel

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Edited By steveurkel

Game of the year 2014 better in almost every way yet politics and whiney content creators managed to tarnish this games reputation before it even shipped. I'm so tired of angry Joe and Jim sterling every other sentence about shadow of war microtransactionsystem when the actual content of the game is fun and we'll worth the 50 dollars the game costs.

Oh also on a 4k acer predator 32 inch and a 1080 ti this game looks almost as good as rise of the tomb raider not quite but almost. It's gorgeous.

No slight to brad or giant bomb talking about pre launches disgusting Lynch mob attitude sending death threats to the developer over the producer who died of cancer dlc etc.

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Humanity

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Humanity  Online

@steveurkel: The textures in Shadow if War don’t come close to Rise of the Tomb Raider which was a gorgeous looking game at time of release and continues to look phenomenal. If you’re into the nemesis system that’s cool, it’s a unique gimmick, but man you can’t defend how dated and plain ugly this game is.

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Cluter

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Edited By Cluter

Fans of the genre will enjoy.

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David

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Yep, 3 stars seems about right.

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Assirra

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Edited By Assirra

@larmer said:

Even with all the issues I have with it I'm still enjoying it far more than Witcher 3, which is similar and got incredibly high reviews everywhere.

Similar? How are they similar besides being both open world games in a fantasy settings?

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timeshero

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@assirra said:
@larmer said:

Even with all the issues I have with it I'm still enjoying it far more than Witcher 3, which is similar and got incredibly high reviews everywhere.

Similar? How are they similar besides being both open world games in a fantasy settings?

Yeah. I'm feeling more and more like Giant Bomb played a very different Witcher 3 than I did. Its the first open world fantasy I absolutely NEEDED to finish in my 27 years. I haven't even finished Skyrim.

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rickytherapper

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larmer

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@assirra said:
@larmer said:

Even with all the issues I have with it I'm still enjoying it far more than Witcher 3, which is similar and got incredibly high reviews everywhere.

Similar? How are they similar besides being both open world games in a fantasy settings?

They're both open-world medieval fantasy action RPGs with very similar combat mechanics. In fact, the Nazgul and The Wild Hunt look and sound almost exactly the same.

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ripelivejam

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Having a great time with this myself. Thanks for the review, Brad. Always a pleasure.

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metal_mills

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@larmer said:
@assirra said:
@larmer said:

Even with all the issues I have with it I'm still enjoying it far more than Witcher 3, which is similar and got incredibly high reviews everywhere.

Similar? How are they similar besides being both open world games in a fantasy settings?

They're both open-world medieval fantasy action RPGs with very similar combat mechanics. In fact, the Nazgul and The Wild Hunt look and sound almost exactly the same.

I wouldn't say they're comparable at all.

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chaser324

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Edited By chaser324  Moderator

@larmer: I'll accept you might personally like this more than Witcher 3 but to call them similar is still a pretty wild comment.

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NZV

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Couldn't possibly agree with this review more. I've had a lot of fun with SoW, but now that I'm towards the end I jut can't find the will to boot it up and see it through, despite being the kind of person who finishes games ~95% of the time. After I'd wrung all the fun out of the nemesis system, doing a bunch of horrendously boring story missions and repetitive siege defenses does not appeal in the slightest.

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larmer

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@chaser324: I think I've adequately explained their strong similarities. I should probably have also added that they're both 3rd person. Obviously they involve differing systems and Witcher 3's combat is less batman-ish but that's about as far as I can pull them apart. They even both use that detective mode thing to track enemies on quests.

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Wagrid

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Man, yeah, seems like a real rough one. I really wish the Nemesis system was in a game I actually wanted to play. I kind of wish Brad had touched on the weird disconnect between all the work they do to humanise the orcs, then only letting you interact with them via enslaving or killing them, but really good review all the same!

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hassun

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I'm mostly just happy you don't have to torture yourself with this one anymore, Brad.

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bybeach

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Edited By bybeach

I probably after all these years don't grasp (or want to grasp, the 5 star system), but this Review reads to me and Shadow of War feels to me, like a 4 star game. I'm very early in, and already a bit tired of killing mobs of Orks (except when they bring in the Carragors). I have however been killing those war chiefs (or whoever) that have killed me. I especially had fun with one guy, unknown and too powerful for me head on. I got him down to 1/2 with fire. But he didn't even retreat, he just told me to fuck off and go home. He then stayed in a very defensible position high up, first with Carragors I distracted, and I finally got him by spamming Celebrimbor around four times to jump up and do my dirty work, all the while hanging off the side. That was cool!

But the real point, I haven't really done anything yet and I have just been deluged with things to do. It's time to go full Nemesis, give me an anchor to deal with the endless list of quest and missions, not even mentioning the story. I read Brad's review and it just re-enforces what I have been seeing. But, for the most part, it also feels really well done. And I have not even started.

I already feel Brad is right, I won't be finishing this game. But I have to hang in there, doing some kind of time management, just to see the good stuff he is describing.

Thank you for the Review, Brad!

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Do_The_Manta_Ray

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Little harsh in my opinion, I'd say this is a 4-star game, but to each their own.

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Lamneth

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Loot boxes can fuck right off. I'll play the game if they remove them.

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Baal_Sagoth

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Very nice review. Seems pretty balanced and comprehensive concerning stuff I wanted to know about the progression. I'll probably stick to the "wait for a sale" plan.

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emphulio

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Brad doing what he does, writing great reviews! I've only conquered two fortresses and have played it in couple of hour sets, but I like it. It's truly a 3 star game, but I find myself extending my every play session. "Only going to play a few hours" turns to couple more. It feels like it has been ages for me, but this one is one of those single player games, were I could get lost in it. Sucked in, Jumanjied or something... Imagine if a Star Wars game had a nemesis system?

Here's a funny thing that is kinda a problem. My Xbox UI is in Finnish, but unlike every other game, this one defaults to German on start up, instead of English. "Drücke A , um fortzufahren" instead of "Press A, to something ". Luckily I found the language options and changed that, but this is such a bizarre problem to me. Maybe I should send this to GB support... :)

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dasakamov

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This was a good read; you can almost feel Brad's inner turmoil in how much he really wants to give the game praise where it's due,but the baffling design decisions and bland, uninspired plot conspire against him. ;)

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roytheone

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@larmer: I think they are VERY different, because their main focus (and strength) are almost completly opposite of each other. Shadow of mordor/war excels at being a fun playground with fun mechanics to mess around with while the story sucks. The witcher 3 on the other hand the gameplay mechanics aren't that amazing, but the story is phenomenal. So while setting wise they may look similar, they are actually almost polar opposites for me and incomparable.

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Nukleon

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Just finished this game. I feel like this game didn't need more systems to be better, it needed a better story. Overall I'd say the gameplay is better than the first game, aside from the microtransaction stuff and ridiculously overextended ending, but the story is even more meaningless. The character motivations are muddy, parts feel missing, and generic Video Game protagonist Talion has really no end goal anymore. Sure he talks about defending Gondor but it's a far cry from his personal vendetta in the last game.

This coupled with it being a prequel means it leaves me about as unimpressed as the various Star Wars prequels. We already have a good idea of what'll happen in the end, and the specifics they tack on feel like a complete nothing.

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ToxicAntidote

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Game of the year 2014 better in almost every way yet politics and whiney content creators managed to tarnish this games reputation before it even shipped. I'm so tired of angry Joe and Jim sterling every other sentence about shadow of war microtransactionsystem when the actual content of the game is fun and we'll worth the 50 dollars the game costs.

Good thing the microtransactions are barely mentioned in this review. And when they were mentioned, they were quickly brushed aside as something almost useless and not worth engaging with.

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Deathpooky

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Just reached the end-game Shadow War and I pretty much agree with this. For every good point about this game (combat, orc personalities, emergent nemesis stories) there's a bad point (nonsense LotR-breaking plot, boring non-orc characters, bad story missions). It's a fun game, but saddled with a ton of caveats.

It's a ton of fun to play around in the world, and they have streamlined so much of the gameplay to get you to the good stuff, but I think I can count one one hand the number of story missions I didn't think were middling-to-bad. There are two climactic story missions I really liked, but that was about it. And pretty much every major boss battle used mechanics that were not fun at all, largely taking away most of your options and forcing you to do simple counter/hit/dodge to get through.

Though the one positive I'd say is that seem to have figured out the proper ratio of collectibles / side missions per area. I did pretty much everything outside of the end-game and it never felt like too much (even if some of it was less than great). The systems were likewise complicated but never overwhelming. In contrast, the Act IV end game definitely feels like a stapled on addition for microtransaction sales and hours padding. You get more than you'd want playing through the first set of missions, except for the ending. I might plink at it a little more, but I think youtubing the ending seems like the right play.

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test0r

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This game turned out to be a real bummer. It's still fun, worth playing in my opinion but everything outside the core gameplay is uninteresting at best. Story is bad, story missions are bad and everything about the loot boxes makes me want to not play the game any more.

In hindsight I would much rather have waited for a sale.

It's also been a pretty stark reminder that 2014 was kind of a bummer year for games all things considered.

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Quantris

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Edited By Quantris

> vaunted Nemesis system

As someone playing through Shadow of Mordor for the first time, I'm having a lot of trouble seeing what the fuss was about. Maybe I need to let orcs succeed more to see something interesting? But so far the Nemesis "system" really doesn't seem to be anything fancier than a random generator for this infinite pool of enemies (who, by and large, are rather easy to dispatch).

I feel like I must be missing something; I don't see what the goal of engaging "boss" orcs even is aside from what the story missions entail (and the story is underwhelming, despite the "neat" factor of having the smith who created the rings of power as a key part of it).

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deathfromace

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Edited By deathfromace

People are crazy this 100% reads as a 3 star review.

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monkeyking1969

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About what I expected for the score. It would be nice if they were less ambitious with the pay mechanics and slightly more ambitious with the narrative, characters, and over all "Middle Earthiness" of the world; but that not what they set out to do nor would it likely be as lucrative if made my way.

I am not especially precious about "epic high fantasy"; i.e. I'm not a purist about how much people should respect it -if at all - as a narrative vehicle. Yet, I think Tolkien books, both LotR and The Hobbit, were well made. Its is a bit sad to see the underpinnings of a realized world twisted around so much that they world loses all...charm. Nor the end of the world, not a grand insult to the original works, but disappointing to have LotR to work with and make "non-epic, low-fantasy" with it.

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Gaminggumper

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@quantris: I've heard others say the same. The "challenge" usually kicks in when multiple cheifs arrive. Also sending death threats to improve your target. This a bit counter intuitive except when you start to try to recruit more powerful Orcs or you arelooking for better weapon runes. But Orcs that come back stronger usually have become immune to the tactic used to take them out. The first game doesnt really shine if you beeline the story because you can mostly avoud big confrontations.

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Crazy_Zaul

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Edited By Crazy_Zaul

They really should have done the endgame grind as an actual endgame - MMO style, rather than forcing you to do/loot box it to get an ending. That would have made the loot boxes much more optional.

Otherwise they might as well just put a pop up that says 'Can't be assed with this tedious shit any more? twitch.tv/streamername to watch the end.' cos that's what people will do.

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professorx86

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Spot on, the biggest gripe I had was the Act 4 Shadow Wars which has you doing 10 stages with multiple castle defenses in between that is just so mindbogglingly tedious and unnecessary...Act 4 killed the game for me.

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TheHT

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Yep. Sounds like the first game (flaws and all) but bigger in every way. Means I'll likely have a fantastic time in the first half or so and then quickly peter out as I get through it just for the sake of getting through it.

That also means it's definitely worth picking up at some point, because the Nemesis system is rad and the ways that they've improved upon it sound very exciting.

Lore-wise, yeah, I already saw the ending and this whole thing is just machismo action movie nonsense and when sufficiently removed from being Lord of the Rings is kinda amazing in a "I can't believe you fucking did that" sort of way (at least the ending is anyways). And to be fair, Shelob being given a sensuous fair form with slinky evening dress (which is the most apt description I've seen; well done), and in addition to the non-physical changes to her depiction, is the sort of stupid I could totally see happening in a movie adaptation that also regarded the lore with far less reverence than the Peter Jackson trilogy did. Point being I think it's less of a "it's a video game" sort of thing. She's basically the Angelina Jolie version of Maleficent, it's absurd.

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vhold

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I've been really enjoying it, but I haven't gotten to having to defend anything yet, and I have to say.. that sounds bad. I love when games have open worlds and lots of things I can do whenever I want. I hate it when games force me to defend something. It's what ruined the most recent Metal Gear Solid for me.

What happens if I just don't care to defend? I just have to take it back over and the game really never ends?

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stise

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More like Middling-Earth, am I right?

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Tennmuerti

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Edited By Tennmuerti

@professorx86 said:

Spot on, the biggest gripe I had was the Act 4 Shadow Wars which has you doing 10 stages with multiple castle defenses in between that is just so mindbogglingly tedious and unnecessary...Act 4 killed the game for me.

And it also ruined the orc intros (and the slo mo kills) for me, that were such a treat early on.

But when several orc chiefs (that you really couldn't give less of a shit about by that point) decide to interrupt the flow of combat every 3 seconds and mouth off in the middle of your combo, or someone gets killed nearby panning your camera away, several times each siege, it got super annoying quick for me.

Not that I wasn't already tired of the intros by that point, but act 4 definitely ground them into the ground for me, to the point of just wishing I could turn them off.

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indigozeal

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Edited By indigozeal

This game won't be my bag due to the gore/domination aspect, but reading what they did otherwise with the story makes wish that they (ending plot point spoilers) just dropped any pretense of canon compliance and went full Force Unleashed DLC, having a mode where it's Celebrimbor conquering the rest of Middle-earth and you fighting against Rohan, Gondor, Rivendell, etc. Unfeasible, of course, due to the ridiculous amount of additional work it'd entail with designing new environments & units, but it seems to be the natural endpoint of the game's tone and characters - and they did do something in that vein for Battle for Middle-Earth. (Like the OP in the linked thread notes, it'd also be just more goddamn fun.)

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Edited By ThePhantomPear

Mediocre game with vastly dated visuals that has the gall to include loot-boxes in a $60 game, gets a MEDIOCRE SCORE. Also Shadow of Mordor won GOTY because there was fuck all to play that year. Anyone buying this game is dooming the industry to accept the trend of loot boxes in every game ever.

Even if you're the biggest LOTR fan, don't become part of the problem. There will be other games. Remember that online Passes were a short fad and died a quick death because no one bought them.

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AV_Gamer

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The Prologue and Chapter 1 are pretty much the whole first game in terms of what you do gameplay wise. It's Chapter 2 and onward where the army building part comes in and pretty much takes over the entire game. I've yet to really get into it, so I can't say if I like it or not. All I can say, is that the combat is better than the first game, and the Nemesis system is also better, and it was great in the first game. Seems like I have a long way to go before finishing it, but so far I like it a lot.

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ThePhantomPear

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@mythdark said:
@steveurkel said:

Game of the year 2014 better in almost every way yet politics and whiney content creators managed to tarnish this games reputation before it even shipped. I'm so tired of angry Joe and Jim sterling every other sentence about shadow of war microtransactionsystem when the actual content of the game is fun and we'll worth the 50 dollars the game costs.

Good thing the microtransactions are barely mentioned in this review. And when they were mentioned, they were quickly brushed aside as something almost useless and not worth engaging with.

Except for the small fact that they lock Legendary Orcs behind loot boxes. If you want it the cumbersome way, get ready to grind hours upon hours and hope that the Orc you want to become legendary does not die in the very last step of the process. Save-scumming is also not allowed. Loot boxes do affect gameplay in this game and I'm baffled why it is not pointed out.

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ConVox

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Dear UPF chat - I was wrong.

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Dray2k

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Great review.

I waited to purchase the game regarding how well the rating would be since I was kinda convinced to buy it already but in parts still uncertain. Well I gladly spend it on something else now.

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ht101

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I have this game at a 4 right now but I haven't gotten to Shadow Wars yet. I'm really enjoying it but I do see where Brad is coming from. I think the story is fine for what it is. Brad at times seems to want way too much from game stories at times. This game seems to be one of those games.

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Tennmuerti

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Edited By Tennmuerti

@thephantompear said:
@mythdark said:
@steveurkel said:

Game of the year 2014 better in almost every way yet politics and whiney content creators managed to tarnish this games reputation before it even shipped. I'm so tired of angry Joe and Jim sterling every other sentence about shadow of war microtransactionsystem when the actual content of the game is fun and we'll worth the 50 dollars the game costs.

Good thing the microtransactions are barely mentioned in this review. And when they were mentioned, they were quickly brushed aside as something almost useless and not worth engaging with.

Except for the small fact that they lock Legendary Orcs behind loot boxes. If you want it the cumbersome way, get ready to grind hours upon hours and hope that the Orc you want to become legendary does not die in the very last step of the process. Save-scumming is also not allowed. Loot boxes do affect gameplay in this game and I'm baffled why it is not pointed out.

I've finished the game (100% it even) and like many others (including Brad) also think that RM loot boxes are not at all an issue. You don't need them and getting orcs is easy, that's not the grindy or the problematic part. You also don't need legendary orcs (and you can get them slower anyway) at all, all that that does is give them 1 extra trait, that in the grand clusterfuck of sieges is completely irrelevant. You also get plenty of regular currency to just fill out your garrisons if needed to the brim with epic orcs that will do the job just as well.

Act 4 is a grind yes. But not because you want to get Legendary orcs from loot boxes. It's a grind because A: you are doing the exact same shit over and over with no change to pace repetition or gameplay, it's a boring slog at that point. B: the xp curve is such that it just takes too long to level up, which feels exactly tuned to annoy you just enough to start consider the conveniently available XP doubler in the store.

I'll give this game plenty of shit, for the most generic potato looking character 2017, for the awful main story that swings from bland to cringe to hilarious (as a minor LoTR fan myself uuugh). For the system bloat and stretched out filler content. For the nasty XP curve towards the end and the awful act 4 that has 0 payoff in the end. For the timed XP doubler.

Even their loot box system in general is a problem imo, because it devaluates the nemesis system by making the orcs even more of just a stat stick rather then interesting entities. When you can just buy them wholesale from some ether and stick them in your army not giving two fucks about their personalities.

But specifically legendary orcs from real money boxes are not of any real issue or consequence. Trust me I think they are ultimately a shitty trend and their inclusion is an abhorrent thing to me on an ideological level. However when the rubber meets the road I have to admit they specifically are not this games problem.