For those that were underwhelmed by Peter Jackson’s return to Middle-Earth with his Hobbit trilogy a few years ago, take solace in the fact that JRR Tolkien’s world of wizards, elves and rings continues to enjoy a stellar life in the gaming world.
Three years following the release of the critically acclaimed and commercially successful Middle-Earth: Shadows of Mordor, Monolith and Warner Brothers Games have returned with the outstanding new game, Middle-Earth: Shadow of War.
Fans of the previous release will instantly recognize Talion, the thoughtful ranger who has merged with the wraith of Elf Lord Celebrimbor. Set between the events of the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, in Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, the duo have forged a Ring of Power which they plan to use to combat Sauron and his armies. Of course, as is wont in the world of Lord of the Rings, all doesn’t go according to plan.
Truth be told, I have never been a big fan of the Lord of the Rings mythology. Certainly not like so many people out there. It’s large and often unwieldy, and I’d rather spend time with The Dark Tower. However, that doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying Middle-Earth: Shadow of War. Graphically, the open world Middle-Earth is stunning to be in. The power of the PlayStation 4 Pro renders things in gorgeous 4K, and the gameplay is actually simple to pick up and play. The voice work is also outstanding, and its hard not to keep my eyes and ears peeled hoping to bump into Sir Ian McKellan or Elijah Wood.
One of the big selling points for Middle-Earth: Shadow of War is the continued refinement of the Nemesis technology, which allows players to gain followers and track several of the big bad Urks. The idea that monsters you’ve done battle with remember your confrontations is both entertaining and enticing, knowing that AI is allowing for these characters to hold a grudge against you.
If this all sounds complex, I can assure you that getting into Middle-Earth: Shadow of War isn’t difficult at all. You can hack and slash your way through villains as the story progresses, and have a hell of a lot of fun doing so. With the holidays coming up, I can pretty much guarantee that giving the gift of Middle-Earth to someone precious in your life will go over quite nicely.
See what I did there?