Picking up where the Shadow of Mordor left off, Talion heads to Mount Doom to forge a new ring free of Sauron’s power, but things don’t quite work out. Shelob, previously shown in the Lord of the Rings films as a giant spider, appears as a woman and sets a number of tasks for him. It’s then down to you, as Talion, to venture around Middle Earth, dealing your own brand of justice in an effort to thwart Sauron. But this game has a few surprises as the end.
Like the first game, the gameplay is action-packed, and is largely reminiscent of the Batman Arkham games. And that’s a good thing, as you leap around hacking Orcs to pieces. The Nemesis System is also back, but is more refined this time, allowing you to not only research and then defeat the enemy commanders in Sauron’s vast army but also to bring them round to your way of thinking and build an army of your own. It’s a superb game mechanic and I’m glad it hasn’t been completely overhauled.
As previously mentioned, the gameplay is full of action, fast and frenetic at times, but largely focuses around simplistic tasks that you are to complete. How you go about this is entirely up to you. You can go charging in, utilising every weapon and ability in your arsenal, or you can opt for stealth and get a relatively trouble-free kill. It’s all down to you. But therein lies the only real issue with Shadow of War. It pretty much replicates the first game: combat, movement, stealth, pretty much every mechanic is copied or reused from Shadow of Mordor. And while they were and still are great features, a fresh approach or even just some additional tweaks beyond graphical fidelity would have further enhanced the experience. The revamped Nemesis system is a good example of making a few improvements without losing the appeal and purpose of a previous feature.
Graphically, it’s a slight step up from the previous game, but there’s nothing revolutionary here, and the camera has a nasty habit of giving you awkward angles. All in all, though, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable single-player game that you’ll gladly sped hours or eve days with.