I was lucky enough to get my hands on a review code for the highly anticipated role playing game from the folks at Warner Brothers/Monolith Productions, Middle Earth: Shadow of War. I didn’t know what to expect when I started playing this but from the opening cinematic, I was hooked and good games should be able to grab you from the very start and reel you in!
Some minor housekeeping before we begin, the menu allows you to set the difficulty for the play through as well as purchase DLC for the game, such as the Expansion Pass. You’re also able to find out what community challenges are as well as the rewards if you complete them. These will help you in the mission but are optional.
Middle Earth: Shadow Of War is a combination of an RPG and a strategy game and it works perfectly for both genres. You get thrown into the middle of Orc battles and you need to be stealthy when it comes to killing them as well as gathering information about their army. There are quite a few Orc army leaders (I guess that’s a good way of putting it) and you will need to figure out how to defeat them and prevent their uprising, not a simple task.
However, one of the cooler things in the game is when you get to use your “stealth/spiritual” powers to interrogate the lesser enemies for intel. There’s a special mark over the head of the grunt that has the info and if you’re not careful, the enemy takes off running and you’ll have to catch him. That wouldn’t be such a bad thing if the city/area weren’t infested with monsters/other enemies that want you dead. The intel uncovers who the enemy is and something about them that you can use in battle to your advantage such as weak against fire or weak against stealth attacks.
However, it’s tough to find these army monsters and sometimes, they aren’t alone and that makes the battle even tougher. If they kill you in battle, they get rewarded and rise in rank in their army and will be tougher to kill next time. Here’s where things get in interesting, the Nemesis system. You can lock in the general/enemy that just killed you to get your revenge on him. You will need to locate something in the area first to get their scent/track and then find said general/enemy.
If you happen to defeat the enemy you’ll be able to score some sweet gear for your character and that will make it easier to survive in battle too. Some of the generals will give you better gear so it will be beneficial to hunt them all down. Also, when you think you’ve killed all of them, they put new enemies in the fleet and they take over for their fallen comrades, how cool is that?
Upgrading your gear could be the difference between life and death in battle but there is another method that could save your skin in battle, learning skills. You never know what skills will come in handy until you learn what type of player will become. You might be better at long range attacks so you might want to learn skills that specify in long range attacks or attacks that launch wide range attacks.
You might be on the other side of the fence where you want to be quick in battle and be able to jump farther/faster. You level up by collecting XP in battle as well as finding it in the “wild.” Skill points are used to unlock new skills via skill tree and like I mentioned before, you won’t know what skills work best for you until you learn what type of player you want to be.
At first glance, Shadow of War was giving off that Dark Souls vibe but graphically only. The controls are simple enough that you could pick it up and play right away; except for a minor issue I had with jumping off/on ledges. The RPG elements flow seamlessly into the adventure and don’t feel forced like some RPG games do. The fighting mechanics are fun and don’t give off the repetitive feel since if you do fall in battle, you want revenge! It’s these reasons that I’m giving Middle Earth: Shadow Of War for the PlayStation 4 a 9/10. I would like to thank Warner Brothers/Monolith Productions for the review code.