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Cult Video Game Essentials: Middle-Earth – Shadow Of War

Middle-Earth Shadow Of War is the follow up to the 2014 sleeper hit Shadow of Mordor offering hack and slash fans a new way to get a repetitive strain injury…..but whilst having a lot of fun. In terms of gameplay not a lot has changed and if you struggled with the first game you’ll struggle even more this time round, as at times you screen will be also filled with Orcs, Uruks and other lovely creatures all with one thing on their mind…. Killing you. But once you get the hang of the countering system and when to run like Forest Gump rather than stay and fight the game becomes a lot more manageable and fun. I’d say the first few hours of the game are the toughest, however even once you come to grips with the game it can at times be brutally hard but once you beat a boss at the twentieth time of asking it is pretty satisfying.

Storyline wise I found it a bit of a mess and not particularly interesting and I enjoyed both the books and movies based on Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. However, the lack of an interesting storyline failed to put me off as the Nemesis system is great fun and further into the game assembling your own team to take over regions is fun as are the fight pits where you get to try and boost your army’s skills. I also really enjoyed that your team members have the ability to switch back sides and sometimes when you least expect or want it. Like I said the storyline isn’t great, in fact is pretty far from great however the Nemesis and the chaos it causes helps make for great non-scripted storylines as you never know quite what to expect and a short simple mission can turn into a huge massacre in the blink of an eye.

Like the original, Shadow of War boasts great graphics and some of the boss fights are pretty spectacular without ever coming close to the series that all boss fights sound be based against in Metal Gear Solid. Boss fights can take a while to figure out where you went wrong which at times is very frustrating but having a game where you must fight tactically at times and just smash buttons at others helps mix things up as otherwise with a game this big you’d be bored before getting a quarter of the way through it. The game is huge and will take 30+ hours to get through depending on how good you are, you can of course upgrade the Ranger by purchasing loot boxes to quicken things up, but I got to the end without the need to spend any extra money. Killing bosses and collecting their gear soon adds ups. It’s a shame that loot boxes are finding there way into more and more console games, thankfully this isn’t a pay to win game like the Fifa and UFC series where unless your willing to spend at least a thousand of your hard-earned pounds the online elements aren’t enjoyable or worth playing.

I can honestly say I found Shadow of War one of the most entertaining games of 2017, dominating Orks and Captains and creating an army to takedown Warchiefs is a lot of fun as is the ability to humiliate Captains to the point that they go insane. Vendetta mode is a great touch getting to fight Captains and Warchiefs that have defeated other players, now you don’t have to fight any of these, but you can get some nice rewards and have nothing to lose other than your time to do these missions so the pros outweigh the cons.

VERDICT: Overall, it’s a solid game and well worth giving a go no matter if you’re a fan of the books and movies or not. At times you’ll be frustrated I could very easily have filled several swear boxes during my play though, but I did enjoy it and the good times outnumber the bad. It’s not the best game of 2017 but it’s up there I’d give it a solid 8 out of 10.

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