Analysis of Middle Earth Shadows of War. A new commander for Mordor

Shadows of War
Written by Kamran Haider

We go back to the Tolkien universe, and that’s always great news. In this analysis of Middle Earth: War Shadows I value if the sequel to Shadows of Mordor is up to the legacy of its predecessor. To achieve this in Monolith, they rely on the Nemesis system, making it grow in new directions. Many hours, playable possibilities and joys for another great game about The Lord of the Rings.

The continuations have it difficult. It is true that from the commercial point of view it is easier for them to succeed since after all the titles that have preceded them have already consolidated their brand image and the mere fact of existing already guarantees that their proposals continue to arouse interest. However, for the purpose of its qualitative and, above all, innovative value; they are always under suspicion. I have seen many lazy video games as a sequel that have done a disservice to the brands to which they belong, and that is why when I announce many of them I receive them with some skepticism. Middle Earth: Shadows of War, however, I did not generate any doubt when it was presented. Why? I explain.

Few now doubt the value of Shades of Mordor, the first part of Middle-earth, and many, in fact, do so after recognizing that they did not expect too much from it. I include myself among those who did not have faith, both because of the poor promotional phase that they had (their main virtues were barely taught and they did not show up too well), and this is exclusively my fault, because of the wrong thing that was predicting me and scarce future to some Monolith who for some time had been carrying out improper titles that I thought was their talent. However, once I enjoyed the fantastic video game of 2014, I realized the enormous potential that was in its formula at the time of being able to achieve huge things in the future. The thing could only grow.

Even though they themselves have tried hard to deny it, it is very obvious to see that the inspirations of the Batman are still there: Arkham from Rocksteady and the Assassin’s Creed from Ubisoft. But, and this I have to make clear, they use them again only to create some of their playable foundations. What is still the main pillar of the War Shadows experience is the Nemesis system but, as if it were a leafy tree, it is formidable to contemplate how such incredible and ambitious branches have emerged from its strong trunk as those that allow us to control our own army or take Mordor by arms. Is it or is it not the dream of every Tolkien fan?

Improving the Present

Although Shades of Mordor was a colossal title, the truth is that there were some drawbacks that were easy to put to that action-adventure. Almost all of them have received attention from Monolith and will be shredded later, but the one that interests me to address right now is the narrative. One of the recurring complaints with that title was that of the little stimulating that was the principal missions in particular and the scarcely interesting of the narrative arc in general. It seemed difficult to extract something unattractive from a universe as fascinating as the works of Tolkien, but without much less being a boring video game the truth is that you could see that a good push was missing in that plot.

How to solve it? I was expecting an important job from the studio, and it has not disappointed me. Like almost everything in the title, it takes time to start. In the beginning, as in a movie or a television series, we see how different characters are presented in what is the missionary branch of Gondor is, which is with which we began our journey. Then we attended a relatively interesting plot of betrayals and movements in an intrigue that is followed with interest, and in which the writers have put a commitment that I appreciate so that we know the motivations behind each action. There are no memorable characters, you will not remember the story a week later and the charisma of Talion and CelebrimborIt is still not at all remarkable, but the presence of such dark and treacherous side as Ella the Spiderhelp to give a tone to the narrative from which history benefits. The pity of the final act, with a quite artificial lengthening of a videogame whose duration was already sufficiently generous enough not to need that extra.

Few now doubt the value of Shades of Mordor, the first part of Middle Earth

The most positive, however, is the best use that is made of everything that has to do with the universe created by JRR Tolkien. Except for some cameo and some other element on which the narrative itself revolved, the truth is that the original did not explode almost anything. But the feeling of wastage that I experienced with the first part no longer pursues me here. Creatures, secondary and recurring places of the literature of the writer born in South Africa adorn the campaign but, in addition, I have never felt that they are there for free. Rather it has seemed to me that they have helped to enrich what we are told.

In the end, the main missions are the part of the title that takes us by the hand during the first hours, and I was surprised again how much they tie us at the beginning of the campaign. For reasons that I can understand, although not for that matter, the best and most free parts of the game take between five and seven hours to arrive, and until then the program has taken us by the hand during many missions for Gondor and for her the spider. After the program is released and is opening more and more. There he offers secondary missions and distractions more or less standard and within the predictable in a title of these characteristics, and also his great weapon to succeed: an evolved Nemesis system.

New Army, New Commander

I’m not going to waste too much time explaining what Nemesis is, we can settle it in a couple of lonely lines. It was a system devised by Monolith and presented in Shades of Mordor that allowed to make the enemy side, literally, feel like something alive. How? With a ladder for the Orcswhich reflected with ascents or deaths what we did on the battlefield, and also the performance of the enemies. A fascinating tool that made the first game on Middle Earth go from being a more than remarkable action-adventure to becoming an outstanding title. Its creators have not been stupid, of course, and far from content to offer more of the same they have made much progress until it becomes again the main point of interest of the adventure.

Everything that worked there is still present in the sequel, and it is amazing to see how the army of our opponents evolves based on what is happening with us. However now, at the same time as the opposing side thrives or sinks, our own will flourish (or disarm as well). We’re going to make it grow by recruiting commanders through magic, using Celebrimbor’s talent to alienate enemies working on their minds when they are weakened in combat. There are nuances to be done, of course. If, for example, an opponent exceeds us in level we can not make him join us and we will have to kill him or we can have patience and humiliate him, make him lower his rank and hope to meet him again in the future and then yes we are able to unite it to our hosts. If, on the other hand, the commander we have recruited is too lazy to be useful, we can always store him in our garrison and train him to raise his valuation. We will do it through combats in the Wells that we can witness and in which they will measure their forces against other Orcs and in which, of course, we always have the risk that they will end up dead.

The rhythm that is created in the battles with a moderately skillful player is incredible

But we must be prepared because the challenge we have to face is huge. The main missions are there, but to finish the game and all that it gives of itself is to conquer all the territories of Shadows of War, and it is in that plot where we have to put the best of ourselves. Owning a side of well-trained warriors and dressing them with fearsome war machines will help us a lot in the exciting sieges, but do not rule out assigning one of your best men to be your bodyguard so you can invoke him whenever you need to. accompany in the missions. Do we have everyone engaged in tasks? Do not forget that you can always brainwash the flight to four or five soldiers who are on the map and have them follow you and fight for you,well-trained commanders. Of course, you have already gotten an idea that the thing also involves its risks, since not even the best of your men is immortal. It is true that if it falls, again and again, we can revive it so as not to lose someone so valuable, but if it ends up dying we will definitely lose it and that is something that has happened to me during my journey and that I can assure you that it hurts.

What I have to make clear is that we can never forget that they are Orcs, and that has its own problem. It is true that it is easy to take advantage of his lack of ethics when converting some of our commanders into spies and infiltrating them into the ranks of an enemy leader so that, without any scruple, they will betray him and help us to finish him by offering him an ambush in the back. However, we must not forget that betrayals work in both directions and that we can also be victims of them. There comes another side of the stories so formidable that we can then share with our friends in conversations like this: “Remember Ugol the Cotilla? Well, in a mission where I was escorted, I had the bad luck to run into his brother. Seeing how he threatened the blood of his blood he betrayed me in the middle of battle, and I had to kill both of them. ” So we must choose carefully who we choose to be our bodyguard and who we choose to be the governor of the strengths that we are conquering. Those great situations occur in Middle-earth, and it is those little moments and anecdotes that arise in an organic and not predetermined way that make your proposal so great and phenomenal. The only downside? As I said, the mechanics take a long time to come into play, although I do not think it is a big problem considering how long the title is and how many hours it has.

Monolith has put all the meat in the spit to offer enormous diversity of scenarios

Of course, not everything that works as a hook in the videogame has to do with Nemesis, and it also does a great job of progression. On the side of the actual evolution of the character I do not have much to comment since it moves in the standard patterns of a title of these characteristics: It is a way of allowing us to move forward lightly, and built on the fact that with each level that we get (based on experience points), we can unlock an ability. These are very interesting and allow us to customize much how we want Talion and Celebrimbor to fight, so everything that is carried out modifications on that side is welcome. But what I like most is how orchestrated related to the team. The thing is divided into a helmet, armor, bow, dagger, sword … And lets you see at a quick glance if what we have in the inventory improves or worsens what we’re wearing. No surprises in this area for menus that allow us to set gems to increase the benefits of everything we carry. However, the study has been very intelligent proposing, in addition, that the greater challenge greater reward, so it is a good way to obtain great weapons and armor to challenge the commanders and provoke them. That will make them ” angry ” and more complicated to finish them, but will also provide us with legend objects.commanders

The Definitive Warrior

Of course, all this would not work if the part related to the action and the adventures did not perform as it should. And I have good news, it continues to perform with the effectiveness of a Swiss watch. All the bases established in the previous game continue to shine with their own light on this occasion, and it is in the part where there have been the fewest changes … fundamentally because the formula did not need them. The maximum agility of Talion is justified from the argument point of view by the presence of Celebrimbor, and at a playable level allows to relate to the stage in a total way that, although it has a more modest way of posing it, only admits competition in terms of interaction with heavyweights of the caliber of Breath of the Wild or Assassin’s Creed. Yes, it is true that sometimes everything goes so fast that I missed some more precision in certain movements, but it seems rather vague to me than to interpellate a production where almost any element of the scenario that we see is scalable.

I also like that the leaders and caudillos are able to adapt to our movements in combat: I explain: If, for example, we constantly use the tactic of trying to jump over an orc commander to hit him in the back, then let’s carry out a few times our strategy will be learned and we will not be able to use it anymore since it will counterattack us harshly. Not allowing us to settle is a good way to ensure that we maximize the possibilities of action presented by the work, which are certainly abundant, and also prevents us from always resorting to the same and fall into being a mere “machacabotones”. A very smart decision by Monolith.

However, the best part of combat is its cadence. The rhythm that is created in War Shadows with a moderately skillful player is incredible, and it shines especially when we have unlocked the skills that allow Talion and Celebrimbor to fight side by side in a lavish dance of death that leaves no puppet with ahead. There is a satisfaction that should not be underestimated when we simulate blockages, blows, stunning actions somersaults over orcs, races between the legs of the biggest beasts, dagger launches … In just three or four seconds we can carry out an example of each and every one of these actions, creating a spectacle worthy of contemplation.

There are also positive conclusions regarding stealth, although these with some minor nuances. Everything about hiding or using the scenario in our favor to try to deceive the enemies, to kill them or, now, to subdue them so that they fight by our side, continues to work well. However, although I have already mentioned how positive the behavior of the bosses in combat is, the truth is that I have been frankly disappointed with the short-sightedness of the opponents when we try to hide from them. Deaf like walls and with serious problems of vision in the normal difficulty, although something more clever in the Difficult (but not much more). Not that it’s a drama, of course, but it contrasts with how well some parts of artificial intelligence perform in the most direct confrontations.artificial intelligence

A Journey through Middle Earth

If I have to go into assessments about the visual aspect of Middle Earth: Shadows of War, I must say that it is a title so perfectly capable of overwhelming me with some impressive sequences as of leaving me surprised with other elements that are at a surprisingly low level. For example, among the most positive it is impossible not to mention the scenarios, which were one of the weaknesses of the first part because of its rather monochromatic palette and its limited variety of locations. Being fully aware in Monolith that was one of the most criticized elements of the previous installment has put all the meat in the spit this time to offer an enormous diversity. The very construction of the world based on regions to be conquered facilitates this work, dividing the map of the title into well-differentiated areas, separated by a loading time and with a huge identity in the visual. There is a snowy map, another rather urban, another eminently volcanic, another marked by the preeminence of nature … They are simple ways to satisfy the hunger for variety that many of us had with their predecessor.

The modeling of the characters, both the protagonists as well as the secondary and the enemies, are also very good. As we have said before when we talked about his attitude, it is not that any of the main ones proposed by the video game is the height of the charisma, but his graphic execution is of a quality that I can not question. They are not so good in terms of animations or collisions. Some of these elements we pardoned in Shades of Mordor because after all, that was an intergenerational title that not only appeared on PC, PS4 and Xbox One, but also on PS3 and Xbox 360. However, now it comes the continuation and we continue seeing great movements to fight, for example, but adjustments in the chain of improper actions of the times that run and movements that touch the ridiculous as the interaction of Talion’s legs with the stairs.

For the rest, the title in its most purely technological part is more efficient. I have not observed a trace of slowdowns during the hours that I have invested in your proposal of action and adventures. Anyway, the PS4 Pro game allows you to adjust the visual experience depending on whether you want a higher resolution or a higher graphic quality to prevail, so it is up to us to choose one or the other alternative depending on what we want to prioritize. It is at the expense of knowing how it will perform on Xbox One X, platform for which adaptation will receive some kind of patch to show the glorious native 4Kwhat their leaders promised. What I have to make clear is that the program also has some bugs that are mainly aesthetic and that, from my perspective, do not affect the gameplay at all. I have not seen anything that goes beyond what can be expected in titles as difficult as polished open worlds are; but knowing certain members of the community who want to flay certain productions as appropriate, it is always good to make it clear.

With the intention of ending it, we have to talk about the sound part, one of those that Warner Bros. pampers in the titles it releases. The music maintains the excellent levels of finish and inspiration that we observed in the original delivery, the effects border on a great range and contribute to making us feel inside their world and, if all this was not enough, the program comes bent and translated to our language with an unusually high number of lines for a job of these characteristics. A work of colossal dubbing that helps us understand situations of the army of orcs just by listening from the shadows to our enemies.

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Warner and Monolith take us back from the hand of Middle Earth with great success. Shades of War is no longer the surprise that was the first trip to Mordor but not only treasures all the virtues of his predecessor but also exploits them in new directions. It will be, without a doubt, one of the most important adventures and action games of this year, and it will be achieved thanks to such groundbreaking and stimulating experiences as those of creating our own army and commanding it in the universe of Tolkien. All a dream come true.

  • Founding and building our own army is a fantastic experience
  • The combats and the stunts continue rayando to a great level
  • There are remarkable improvements in history and major missions
  • The team system helps a lot to maintain our interest
  • It is difficult to feel more within the world of Middle Earth
  • The best of the game, the recruitment of commanders, takes several hours to arrive
  • Some new parts of Nemesis are not as well explained as they should be
  • Very isolated problems with handling under certain circumstances and with AI

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Kamran Haider

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