I love video games. And being someone who thinks about movies 24/7, I really love video games based on movies. Unfortunately, that seems to be one of the areas in the video game world where very few games actually end up being any good. When there are exception to the rules though, I am in virtual heaven. Memories of game platforms past invoke memories of Goldeneye on N64, Path of Neo on PS2, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed on PS3 and Wanted on PS3 are a few of my all time favorite games, period. Another one that I adored was Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers on PS2. It perfectly captured the feel of one of the best trilogies of all time. 2014’s Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor attempted to capture a new original story within the Lord of the Rings universe and while it showed great promise, it got a little repetitive with limited visuals. Released this week is a follow up game entitled Middle-Earth: Shadow of War and whatever feedback the developers got on the first game, it looks like they really listened.
The player continues the story of the ranger Talion and the spirit of the elf lord Celebrimbor, who shares Talion’s body, as they forge a new Ring of Power to amass an army to fight against Sauron. While the story continues from the previous game, Middle-Earth: Shadow of War feels much larger, much more fleshed out, and much more fun. The fight system is reminiscent of the Batman: Arkham Asylum games, which is a good thing. It is a button masher, but in the best way possible. Once you find yourself in the midst of a bunch of angry Orc’s, it becomes an orgy of mashing, slashing and timing. Switching between weapons, jumping over opponents, timing defense moves, and all with wonderful fluidity, it is pretty much video game heaven for me.
There are also some very cool features in Middle-Earth: Shadow of War that take the whole experience up a notch. The new and improved Nemesis system builds a more in depth world with characters that will follow you depending on how you interact with them. There is also a new store for some great add on options, and they have built in a new weather system and day/night cycle to keep things visually interesting. They have also brought over some familiar faces from the movie franchise including Ringwraiths, the Witch King, the Balrog and even Sauron himself.
Overall, if you are a fan of large scale action role playing games, Middle-Earth: Shadow of War will really do the trick and has made great strides in improving the experience over the previous Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor game. Just make sure you have lots of time set aside, this game will be occupying your thoughts every day at work until you finish your epic journey. Highly recommended.