Talion and Celebrimbor, the two souls who share the same body halfway between life and death, return three years later from Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor to finally take their revenge against Sauron. The Dark Lord is gathering a huge army and soon his strength will be unstoppable: how can we counter it? Creating an army too, thanks to the persuasive power of the New Ring forged by our elven half, and conquering the fortresses to defend the various regions that make up the huge map of The Shadow of War, in what looks like the most exciting and innovative element of this sequel. Not the only one, of course: the work done by Monolith Production for the new chapter of the series, resting on the solid foundations of the debut title, brings the whole experience to new levels of involvement, richness and even variety, further emphasizing the most convincing aspects of the game and substantially improving its cosmetics, which this time does not have to submit to the limits of cross-gen planning and can therefore give free rein to its ambitions.
Middle-earth: The Shadow of War does not get too lost in chatting during the early stages, also because there are so many things to do, listed in a special menu that divides the missions according to the "client". If you haven't played with the first episode, however, never mind: the mechanics again draw heavily from Batman: Arkham (and Assassin's Creed, albeit to a lesser extent), sharing most of the controls and basic philosophy with the Rocksteady productions. Without wishing to reveal too much of the wide narrative sector accompanying the experience, once again enhanced by an excellent dubbing in Spanish that does not skimp on names of a certain caliber, we can say that during the initial phase of the adventure we will find ourselves defending the doors of Minas Ithil, besieged by orcs at the behest of Sauron, determined to take possession of the mighty Palantir.
Once that part is completed, the structure of Middle-earth: Shadow of War will literally open before our eyes, allowing us to travel between various regions (including Cirith Ungol, Gorgoroth, Seregost, Nurnen) to complete missions related to mysterious entities. like Shalob and Carnan, the latter struggling with the awakening of a powerful Balrog, as well as the deadly assassin Eltariel, constantly looking for a way to eliminate the Nazgul. To this will be added many parallel missions, some of which are able to show almost perfectly the evolution of the Nemesis system and its many, even unexpected facets., as well as a huge amount of secondary objectives including challenges to the captains (all, as usual, characterized in a unique way and introduced by a few seconds of dialogue, to be rattled off even in the middle of a furious battle), online feuds, revenge missions (a Orc killed a friend of ours? Can we make him pay) and, above all, the part dedicated to the sieges.
As mentioned, in Middle-earth: Shadow of War our goal is to create an army to counter Sauron's. How? To bring the strongest orcs to our side we will have to defeat them in a duel and dominate them thanks to the power of the New Ring of Celebrimbor: at that point we can ask them to fight alongside us, send them to rest (or drive them away, if we don't like them ...), assign them a specific task during the attack on fortresses or extra tasks that can go from eliminating a target infiltration, things that Shadow of Mordor players surely remember well.
Arrived to the point, we will carry out a portentous attack on the enemy bases, also characterized in a unique way both in terms of the architectural aspect and the internal organization and the general ecosystem, determined randomly according to the tribe and the implications of the Nemesis system between betrayals, promotions and sudden reversals of the front. To conquer the forts we will have to climb their walls, paying attention to the numerous defenses placed on the towers, and then free a series of areas from the presence of groups of captains, until the final confrontation with the regent. It will happen at about 40% of the complete completion of the game, after tens of hours and a completely gutted skill tree, to come across fortresses too powerful to be conquered, which will inevitably imply a path of grinding not so much for Talion and its specific abilities, as for the roster of its followers, which will have to be nurtured and of a good level in order to ensure the necessary support for the invasion. However, a conquered fort will not last forever: we will have to manage its commanders and defenses because there will be siege attempts by other users, in view of a prospect that certainly appears exciting.
When, during the first hours of the game, the map of the scenario we were in was literally filled with missions and objectives, we naturally asked ourselves the question of variety, which has always been the Achilles heel of Assassin's Creed-style sandbox experiences. Well, there is no doubt that many of the quests are completed for the pure pleasure of doing it, in an almost mechanical way, since they propose an extremely similar structure and dynamics, mostly based on direct confrontation with orcs; however there are variations on the theme, especially on the front of narrative-based missions: we will find ourselves carrying out silent infiltrations, facing the very dangerous Nazgul, fighting a Balrog on the back of a gigantic wooden creature, riding a dragon (sorry, a draco) and, in general, to subdue beasts of various orders and sizes (mainly caragor and graug) to take us around the scenario, making our offensive more effective and diversified.
Also as regards the secondary objectives, those that are precisely the most similar to each other, there will be the possibility of using different approaches to change the cards on the table.: poison the barrels from which the orcs drink, subject archers to attack our command, hit the targets from a distance and maybe blow them up together with the flammable barrels, in a hell of fire as spectacular as it is devastating for those who fall victim to them. Proceeding in the campaign the development of the skills of Talion and his elven half, together with the RPG element that characterizes the management of the inventory, with weapons and armor common, rare, legendary or epic (as well as packages that can be purchased with real money for those who want having more in less time, a now constant aspect in triple A productions), will also lead to an increase in gameplay variety: silent kills can be more cruel and violent, prompting enemies in the area to flee in terror, while the shots from a distance will add to the traditional arrows the possibility of projecting the figure of Celebrimbor directly towards the target.
Middle-earth: Shadow of War includes a total of fifty-three Trophies, many of which are earned by exploring the many facets of the experience: finding all Gondorian artifacts, unlocking all character abilities, purifying all haedir in the various maps, saving a captured follower, and so on. Only some Trophies are related to the completion of narrative-based missions.
Middle-earth: The Shadow of War is in short a huge, multifaceted game, with many noteworthy structural innovations (including the possibility of importing your nemesis and your followers from the campaign of the first chapter, provided you have played it on the same platform) and a solid and engaging narrative, capable of making the most of the rich "lore" created by JRR Tolkien, its fascinating settings and the time space between the events of The Hobbit and those of The Lord of the Rings. On the technical front, have the same steps been taken? Yes, absolutely. As mentioned, the new Monolith Productions project was designed specifically for the current gaming platforms, without therefore having to sacrifice anything on the altar of a cross-platform setting, and this is clear not only from the substantial increase in the maps that can be visited, all particularly well-finished and with their own personality, especially in the central areas, but also by the quality of the assets. The polygonal complexity of the characters and buildings has undergone a rather noticeable boost, we tried to limit the flatness of the surfaces as much as possible by working on the lights and the effects, as well as to make the most of what the most recent revisions of the PlayStation 4 (and inevitably Xbox One) have to offer, with two display modes that they prefer resolution or general quality.
As for the animations, Talion's run sometimes creates some perplexity in terms of the relationship between movement and space traveled, especially with the "elven shot" activated, but the many battle choreographies are truly splendid, especially those that emphasize the double nature of the protagonist. The graphics engine, now well tested, does not suffer from frame rate drops (at least on PlayStation 4 Pro) but in certain cases there are small pop-up effects regarding the settings and some glitches that we do not doubt will be fixed with the next ones. updates. The support for HDR offers memorable glimpses, enhancing a day / night system that is not incredibly sophisticated but certainly functional, as well as the vastness of landscapes that you will certainly find evocative, even more so if you care about Tolkien literature and its film reductions. The sound, as mentioned, characterized by an excellent dubbing in Spanish (a pity for some poorly balanced level in some situations - yet it would be enough to produce shots of a volume equal to those of the original voices to make no mistake), boasts epic music, perfectly fitting, and a good set of effects.
Middle-earth: Shadow of War is available in several editions, both physical and digital. The Standard Edition includes the game, while the Special Edition includes the Nemesis Tribe of Slaughter expansion, Nemesis Tribe of the Outlaws and the Chest of the Silver War.
Buy Middle-earth: Shadow of War for PlayStation 4 - Standard Edition (49,99 euros)
Buy Middle-earth: Shadow of War for PlayStation 4 - Silver Edition (€ 89,99)
Buy Middle-earth: Shadow of War for Xbox One - Standard Edition (€ 49,99)
Buy Middle-earth: Shadow of War for Xbox One - Silver Edition (€ 89,99)
Buy Middle-earth: Shadow of War for PC - Standard Edition with digital code (€ 54,89)
Digitally, the game can be purchased on PlayStation Store, Xbox Game Store and Steam.
Middle-earth: Shadow of War was long in coming, but it was worth it. The new title of Monolith Productions starts from the very solid foundations of the debut episode and enriches its structure in many different ways, offering us a substantially larger map, full of main and secondary missions, challenges and objectives, to which are added exciting elements such as the sieges and the consequent management of the fortresses, as well as a Nemesis system made even more significant and interesting by the possibility of creating an additional narrative bridge with the prequel. It is indeed a huge game, multifaceted and very beautiful to see, which will keep you busy for tens and tens of hours, without even abandoning yourself in the endgame that promises to be solid and fun.
- Extraordinarily rich and inspired
- Always solid and addicting gameplay
- Spectacular from a technical point of view
- From large numbers comes a certain degree of repetition
- A few blunders in targeting allies
- Small glitches to fix