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Shadow of War tries to escape the shadow of its predecessor


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Following the success of its predecessor, 2014’s Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, the newly released game, Shadow of War, again dives into the universe of “The Lord of the Rings.” Taking place sometime before the events of both the books and movies, Shadow of War follows the story of a man named Talion who is possessed by an elven wraith known as Celebrimbor so that he cannot die. The two then set out to defeat the villain of “The Lord of the Rings,” known as Sauron, by creating their own ring and using it to control an army of orcs and trolls.

Much like the first game, the story isn’t too complex. It never quite reaches the storytelling heights of either the movies or books, but it is not trying to either. For what they are, the story and characters are serviceable, but it is clear that the focus of both games is the gameplay.

Throughout your adventure, you will run into various enemies, ranging from orcs to dragons, and each can be either defeated or “branded” so they join your army. The combat itself is not hard to master, with most of it revolving around hitting the correct button at the correct time to counter or slash. This can get a bit monotonous at times, but it is visually impressive, and you do get a rush of adrenaline with each engagement that you partake in. The game is often tailored to your play style, allowing for all-out brawls, stealthy sneak attacks, or ranged and mounted combat in almost every situation.

The combat is fun, but the main selling point of Shadow of War for me is a mechanic known as “The Nemesis System.” With the mechanic, almost every enemy in the game has the potential to have their own story told. You can be killed by some nameless grunt, and because of this, you will be able to see them progress through the ranks for their hand in defeating you. The same is true of your allies, as they’ll not only advance in rank, but they’ll even do things such as betray you, attack major enemies for you, and even save your life from time to time.

“The Nemesis System” gives the game some much needed personality, and allows for endless amounts of variety between playthroughs. The system was carried over from the first game, but it is obvious that a lot of effort went into improving it. Aside from a lackluster story, my only complaint about Shadow of War is its overly familiar feel. It looks and plays very similarly to the first game, which is not necessarily a bad thing, as I thoroughly enjoyed Shadow of Mordor, but if you’re looking for a sequel that greatly expands upon its predecessor and shows off the pinnacle of 2017 graphics, you will not find it here.

However, if you have not played the first game, or if you enjoyed the gameplay of the previous game and simply want more of it, you will enjoy this game as much as I did.

4 out of 5 Spurs.

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Shadow of War tries to escape the shadow of its predecessor