Review of the game Middle-earth: Shadow of War - repeatability rules in Mordor

Author: Przemysław Zamęcki
Date: 2017-10-05 15:00:00
The review was based on the XONE version. Also applies to the PC, PS4 versions

What I like most about video games is to be surprised. You know that feeling. You run a title without any special expectations and boom! Well, maybe not immediately boom, but when for the first few dozen minutes you are still diving towards the floor after your jaw has fallen out, it means that you just let yourself be surprised. It is a fantastic feeling that is not easy to achieve today.

A few words about the surprise

I've had this twice in the last decade with items referring to Tolkien's work. First on the occasion of Lord of the Rings: The Wars for Middle-earth , and then Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor , which at the very beginning sucked me in with the quality of the intro and the idea for the story like a tornado in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico . I remember that I would not bet my grandmother in a sandbox on any of these productions before their premiere, and yet my life exceeded my moderate expectations of a rocket flight to the moon.

So you are not surprised that I approached the game in Middle-earth: Shadow of War like a naive little boy, for whom the Monolith studio team decided to move Christmas to October. The marketing campaign aroused a bit of suspicion in me, but I waved my hand at the wholesale videos that appeared in recent months and I simply did not watch them. I made a mistake here, I'll admit it openly. I overestimated the developers , hoping they could handle the matter, and when I first started the game a dozen days ago, I quickly threw my jaw on the floor, ready to receive the surprise. "I'm not going to give up this time," I thought. I waited and waited, and when the surprise didn't come, I felt a little confused. This feeling accompanied me for the next several dozen hours and even now, as I write these words, I cannot completely get rid of it.

There were shadows in Mordor

To be clear, I will make a reservation now that if someone did not like or bored him of the repetitive gameplay in Shadow of Middle-earth , it will also bounce back from the Shadow of War . It is largely a replay of entertainment , in which one map of medium size in the scale of games with open worlds has been replaced by a few slightly smaller or similarly sized ones, and the whole presents the individual provinces of Mordor between which we travel through the "loading" spell. These maps mostly do not resemble the "one", characterized by a fairly regular shape - they are more a network of corridors connecting small open spaces. Each province has a mandatory fortress, the capture and maintenance of which is actually the crux of the changes you make.

In the paragraph above, I mentioned that people who did not like Shadow of Mordor will also bounce off the sequel, but it would also be reasonable to stipulate that players unfamiliar with the brand may have trouble understanding the plot . This is because this one is a direct continuation of the story from the "one", not particularly trying to explain the previous nuances. The problem is even greater because some of the characters known from the previous game also appear this time, and the main character, the guardian Talion, is driven to some extent by unclear motives.

Of course, some doubts are dispelled by the compendium built into the program, but this is not the same as the organoleptic experience of the earlier history of the alliance of the two protagonists, because let's not forget that the ghost Celebrimbor is also trapped in Talion's body - during his lifetime the most famous elven smith of the Second Age, creator and co-creator of the Rings of Power.

Tolkien fan fiction

The driving force behind the second part is the forging of a new Ring , which the main character uses to recruit his army of orcs, and the fall of Minas Ithil in 2002 of the Third Age, and the consequent loss of the Palantir stored there - the same that will later be used by Sauron to trapping Saruman and receiving information from him that the guards have special care for the area called the Shire. Here it is true that I went out with storytelling far into the future, but my intention is to draw attention to the fact that the creators based the plot on a literally two-sentence mention from the Chronicle of the Western Kingdoms, and then expanded it to the size of the entire game, which I count on a plus .

Unfortunately, attention to detail and compliance with the canon is sometimes only apparent. The best example of his being treated too lightly is the form of the spider called Shelob. Tolkien nowhere mentions her ability to turn into a woman, but in the game Monolithu it is one of the starting, important themes. Anyway, the story of forging one more Ring is already far-fetched , although it is actually thanks to this idea of the developers that the development of threads related to the orcish armies makes any sense. I will not reveal anything special, if I add that on the normal difficulty level, the scars are ordinary beating boys, and even fighting one of the Balrog does not require a third brain hemisphere and chimpanzee fingers.


As already mentioned, building an army is possible with the new Ring . Thanks to him, Talion gains the ability to drain power from enemies and convert them to his side. The leaders and commanders, however, must first be broken, in other words, skin them properly, checking their strengths and weaknesses beforehand, known by catching a specially marked delinquent. This is done in the same way as in the first part. Only then do commanders become receptive to our suggestions. However, we can only dominate orcs with a level lower than or equal to ours, while the rest can be either hacked, gaining an artifact, or disgraced and lowered their level.

Gaining followers and hunting enemy chieftains is part of a slightly revamped Nemesis system. It is now not as dynamic and independent of our actions as before, but it allows us to make interesting tactical moves. We can send allies on missions related to espionage . Placing such a character in the vicinity of the enemy can, for example, lead to the fact that at the right moment he will reveal himself somewhere during the fight and stab the sword in the back of our opponent. This is just one example, but the new Nemesis offers even more options, including, if you have the patience, conquering strongholds.


Attacking enemy fortresses was to be the biggest attraction of the game. In any case, marketers have probably spent most of their time properly illuminating the situation. In reality, however, this mechanics is not much different from ordinary battles with large groups of enemies. There is a need to capture the fortress points (just like in FPP shootouts) and the final duel with the boss and his entourage, which takes place in the throne room. If you lose, you have to start all the fun again. There are no save points during attack or defense.

The assault is carried out by the commanders recruited by us, and in addition to the units they lead, we can also hire mercenary units for virtual cash in the game. Once we throw these forces on the enemy headquarters, it remains only to hope that we have used a large enough force to flood the enemy troops. I am writing this a bit as if we were to witness an orderly battle in the Pelennor Fields, but there are only maybe twenty or thirty active characters on-screen in the game , and it's so chaotic that you can actually swing your sword blindly. The conquest of the fortress can be made easier by neutralizing the commanders under the authority of the boss before the attack. Killing each of them disables some security system of the stronghold.

I must honestly admit that this part of the game did not really delight me. Before the attack takes place, you have to get through the boring liquidation and recruitment of new commanders, which is absolutely no different from the rest of the game. During the several dozen hours needed to complete the Shadow of War, the repetition of activities kills even the greatest enthusiasm . I have no idea if the developers didn't feel like it or ran out of time, but even some of the tasks from the first part are repeated here. In order not to look far - even poisoning barrels of alcohol.

Let's summarize

Middle-earth: Shadow of War doesn't strike as hard as the previous installment. Actually, I was expecting a lot more from the game than I got, so I feel a bit disappointed. The creators had enough time to serve real fireworks, as is usually the case in more refined sequels, and instead they only lit sparklers. They focused so much on one element that they completely skipped the meaningful development of the rest of the game, once again preparing the title, through which only people determined enough to not be disturbed by the schematicism and repetition of the game.