developer: Monolith Productions
publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Game mode: single player
Middle Earth: Shadow of War is a sequel to a game called Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, a well-received open-world action game developed by an American studio called Monolith Productions. Similarly to the first installment in the series, the game described herein has been published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. The game picks up the story where its predecessor has left it; however, it introduces a number of changes and improvements in terms of the gameplay mechanics. This mainly regards the unique Nemesis system, which generates personalized adversaries, each with their own name, appearance, traits, and weaknesses. The game is available on PC Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, however, the PC Windows version of the game delivers the highest-quality visuals.
In the PC, PS4 and XONE release of Middle Earth: Shadow of War, the action is set right after the events shown in Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. Yet again, a player gets to assume the role of an iconic duo - Talion, a Ranger of the North and Celebrimbor, a wraith and an astral form of an elf, who centuries ago forged the One Ring. The main protagonists decide to create one more ring, which in theory should provide them with power not only to gather a larger army but also defeat Sauron once and for all.
Players get to follow the story via the epic cutscenes. Battle-hardened heroes encounter more or less friendly characters, which is a perfect foundation for major plot twists. On his adventure, a player can face characters known from Tolkien's books and the movie adaptations, featuring i.a. Balrog, Witch-king of Angmar, and Sauron himself.
Similarly to the first installment in the series, in Middle Earth: Shadow of War for PC, PS4 and XONE, players get to explore a vast open world featuring such iconic locations as Osgiliath, Cirith Ungol, Gorgoroth, Nurnen Lake Fortress, and Seregost. One can travel in numerous ways - either on foot or on the back of various steeds. In the former case, a player can enjoy the elaborate free running system, which highly resembles the one featured in Assassin's Creed series. Nonetheless, the developers give at players' disposal also a wide range of creatures one can ride on - apart from the karagors we remember from the first installment, there are also dragons, which prove extremely useful when fighting the enemies.
Middle Earth: Shadow of War delivers dynamic and spectacular combat system once again based on attack combinations and mounting counterattacks. Interestingly enough, this time around, a player gets to participate in epic battles aided by entire armies comprising orcs and battle beasts with unique skills. Apart from the aforementioned dragons, a player can have in his army karagors, trolls, and graugs, which are now more diversified - an ice graug, for example, can throw blocks of ice at his enemies. Nonetheless, there is still nothing standing on player's way to eliminate his targets silently and work stealthily.
What made Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor different from other action games was the Nemesis system, which generates unique enemies with their own stories, motivations, traits, and weaknesses. It also allowed the opponents who have beaten the main protagonist to become even more powerful and eventually become a general in the Dark Lord's army. Moreover, Celebrimbor could possess any opponent turning him into a saboteur or a spy, who unconsciously worked for the main protagonists. All this has been also implemented into the game described herein, however, the Nemesis system has undergone many changes and improvements. The adversaries are now even more diverse; moreover, they have been divided into different tribes. A player cannot possess the minds of elite opponents right away - in the initial stages of the game, when both Talion's and Celebrimbor's abilities are still waiting to be developed, one can only mess with them and indirectly downgrade them. What is more, even a possessed orc can turn on the main protagonists - whether one remains loyal to us depends on his nature and the way we decide to treat him.
The Nemesis system is directly linked to conquering strongholds, which requires a player to employ successful strategies and gathering enough forces to pull it off. Conquering a stronghold results in taking control over a region of Mordor. As the castle might fall victim to an enemy attack, one should appoint a proper warden - potential candidates for this post offer unique benefits.
In comparison to the first installment, the game described herein offers much more elaborate RPG elements. By looting the bodies of fallen enemies, one can come across new weapons and armor featuring various statistics. Moreover, some pieces of equipment have additional unique traits, which can be unlocked after completing more or less complex tasks. A player can also improve his gear with special jewels, while the new Ring of Power can be improved with runes. To top it all, the game delivers a set of active and passive skills, which are unlocked as one progresses through the story.
The PC, PS4 and XONE release of Middle Earth: Shadow of War delivers top-quality 3D visuals. Both character and enemy models, as well as the environment textures, are rich with details and well-complemented with the spectacular animations (visible especially during the dynamic fighting sequences) and the realistic lighting effects. Also worth mentioning, is the atmosphere of the game and the dedicated soundtrack accompanying a player on his journey through the volcanic wastelands of the Dark Land.
PC / Windows
Recommended: Intel Core i7-3770 3.4 GHz, 16 GB RAM, graphic card 4 GB GeForce 970/Radeon R9 290X or better, 60 GB HDD, Windows 10
Minimum: Intel Core i5-2550K 3.4 GHz, 8 GB RAM, graphic card 2 GB GeForce GTX 670/Radeon HD 7950 or better, 60 GB HDD, Windows 7(SP1)