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The reviews for Monolith Productions sequel to the 2014 outing of Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor are in and gamers are finding out exactly what the critics think of the hack-and-slash, action-RPG. One thing is for sure, the loot boxes are a hot topic, but so is the quality of the gameplay mechanics and the overwhelming amount of content present in Middle-Earth: Shadow of War.
Nevertheless, before getting into the whole loot box discussion, some sites have focused mostly on the actual gameplay experience and that was enough to give the game a perfect score. In the case of God is a Geek, every aspect of the game was something that the reviewer lauded over, from the combat to the story, to the upgraded Nemesis system and everything else in between. The outlet scored the game with a perfect rating of 10 out of 10, writing...
There is so much to do in Shadow of War that at first, it'll overwhelm you, but the best thing to do is just enjoy it. If a mission presents itself, do it. Soak it in and enjoy every little thing, from the collecting of Gondorian artifacts, learning about Shelob and Celebrimbor's pasts, to the main intertwining missions. The depth of combat is insane, and you're constantly finding new ways to approach the enemy, and moving around has never felt as free or as efficient.
Most of the review sites out there have showered Monolith Productions in praise for how well and how fluent the whole combat system works, making players feel as if they're actually there in Middle-Earth, fighting the good fight and growing an ever-imposing Orc army.
Game Informer was quick to point out how well Monolith did with handling the game's multiple story threads, as players hop back into the roles of Talion and his ethereal companion Celebrimbor. The duo are out to forge a new Ring of Power in the heart of Mordor and conquer it for themselves. The gaming outlet took an opportunity to talk about most of the pros and a few of the cons -- such as enemies being "profoundly stupid" when it comes to playing stealth -- but ultimately ended up recommending the game with a 9.5 out of 10, writing...
Shadow of War fulfills the promise of its predecessor, completing a dark and violent lost tale set within the world of The Lord of the Rings. I was initially frustrated by the liberties that Monolith takes with this beloved fiction (which are plentiful), but I eventually abandoned myself to the insanity, and fell down the rabbit hole into a superb fantasy adventure.
A couple of other sites also took digs at the game's loosely interpreted take on Tolkien's renown Lord of the Rings universe by playing fast and fickle with the story. But a majority of the reviews are highly positive, and this is reflected in the aggregator scores across the net for Shadow of War, with Metacritic's PS4 score sitting at an 86 out of 100, while the PC version is slightly lower at 84 out of 100. The Xbox One version rounds out the trio with the lowest of the scores at 83 out of 100. Still, most scores are quite positive ahead of the game's release on October 10th.
However, some of the reviews and feedback have not all been entirely glowing. IGN's executive review editor, Dan Stapleton, noted on Twitter that the addition of the loot box microtransactions defeats the whole purpose of having fun with the game, but it doesn't stop the game from being fun.
A couple of other sites also pointed out issues with the story and how it's further bogged down by needless side-quests that hamper the overall experience. In order to get the "true" ending, you'll need to complete a lot of other seeming optional grinding quests, which some felt detracted from the pace of the game.
Gamespot in particular ragged on the game's "needlessly" complicated and overwrought menu systems, skill system, and loot box setup, mentioning that it bogged down the game unnecessarily with more minutiae than it needed, summing up the piece with a 7 out of 10...
[...] things like the storefront and the menus and loot system don't make the game terrible, it just would've been better without them. It tries to be larger than its predecessor, there are more abilities, more weapons, more Orcs, yet it leaves you wanting less. But at its core, it's a fun experience with brilliant moments that provide fascinating insight into some of the untold stories of Middle-earth.
What's unequivocal about Shadow of War is that everyone seems to agree that the game is fun where the gameplay mechanics are concerned. In the end, could you really ask for more than that?