Middle-earth: Shadow of War
Top Critic Average
Similar to the way Batman: Arkham City built on the foundation of Arkham Asylum, Middle-earth: Shadow of War is bigger and more ambitious in scope than Shadow of Mordor, with great results. The way it expands the Nemesis system with far greater variety and fortress sieges makes even better use of the stand-out generated characters, and its battles with memorable uruk captains remain challenging all the way through the campaign and into the clever asynchronous multiplayer beyond.
The nemesis system shines in this unwieldy, bloated, and occasionally magnificent fantasy epic.
A greatly expanded and improved action game let down by a dreadful story.
A huge Lord of the Rings experience that's always enjoyable, although its scale leaves it straining at the seams at times.
You are a merciless tornado of ruin touching down in an unforgiving world of battle and domination, and embracing that unfettered power is a joy
The follow-up to Shadow of Mordor is bigger in scope, but not always better than its predecessor.
If you can get past the microtransactions, Shadow Wars seems set to provide a much meatier extended playtime than Shadow of Mordor ever offered. But more than anything, that's my biggest disappointment with Middle-earth: Shadow of War: Everything about it seems to come with a caveat, some small annoyance or two that you need to dig past to get to the still-very-fun game underneath. The Nemesis System is still a wonder that has yet to be replicated. The movement and combat are thrilling.
This sequel expands on the vaunted Nemesis system in wildly entertaining ways, even as it falls short around the edges.
The fundamental issue here is that being good at Shadow of War means the process becomes routine. Find intel. Target underlings. Go after Warchiefs. Attack the castle. Defeat the Overlord. Appoint your favorite orc as new Overlord. With so many maps this time around, I grew fatigued of this procedure halfway through. And because Talion is so overpowered, I barely died—so there were fewer chances for orcs to remember our previous encounters.