Game Review: Middle-Earth – Shadow of War

Background:

Middle-Earth: Shadow of War is the sequel to the critical acclaimed Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor. Serving as a side story to the events between The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. However, Shadow of War suffers from the issue of feeling bloated certain points. Something the original never truly felt.

Story:

Shadow of War continues from the events of the original with the Talion (the player character) and Celebrimbor (the elf who made the rings) creating a new to help fight and defeat Sauron (the main villain of Lord of the Rings). As such, much of the story is aimed at increasing the power of the ring and your armour, as well as defeating Sauron with some twist and turns that are somewhat expected.

Mechanics:

The mechanics of the game mix elements of the Arkham Batman games combat system, with Assassin’s Creed movement style. And the game rewards you for mixing combat in different ways and for combing certain styles together. Such as using your brand ability to create confusion for you to appear and remove certain orc archers.

Sound Design:

The sound design in Shadow of War is one that fits into the tradition of music that the movies have helped to create. One that feels unique and built into the universe. The sound of cutting an orc in half or a blade clash helps make it feel that every blow is done with strength.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, Middle-Earth: Shadow of War in some falls into the trap of many sequels in making the game bigger and grander but at the risk of making the game more repetitive. The several bugs and glitches that occurred during the playthrough makes it an attempt that feels weaker than the original.

Score:

7 out of 10

Written by Syed Ali

Game Review: Destiny 2

Background:

The first Destiny was a game that I was initial skeptical of, due to needing a constant raid party, the limited context to player actions and the general feel of the game. However, what Destiny 2 succeeds in doing is correcting these faults, whilst at the same time feeling more like Destiny 1.5.

Story:

For those that either missed the Destiny hype train, or like me, were not interested in the Destiny franchise. The core concept is that you are a guardian – a being capable of great power, with a nifty robot that can resuscitate you when you fall in battle. What makes Destiny 2 more interesting than Destiny 1 is that it has a clear story mode allowing for greater context for certain player missions and actions. However, when the story ends it becomes necessary to have a group of friends to truly enjoy and progress within the game.

Mechanics:

The mechanics of the game are a blend of the Call of Duty control scheme, and the unique visual style of Halo. What this means in terms of mechanics is the game is able to blend the speed and strength of both franchises. Additionally, the game allows you to choose one of three different classes at the start of the game. I myself went with the ‘Titan’ which I felt in retrospective to be the most fun (suiting my Halo-style combat preference). Titans have a focus on strength and dominating the ballad of combat.

Sound Design:

The sound design in Destiny 2 is one that is focused on creating a sci-fi feel similar to Halo while trying to be something entirely new. Allowing of a unique blend of guns sound and music tracks that feel sci-fi yet grounded.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, Destiny 2 feels more like Destiny 1.5 with significant changes to refine core elements of the game. The main story mode is a major change to the game but feels more of an attempt to correct errors of Destiny 1’s initial launch.

Score:

7 out of 10

Written by Syed Ali

Hearts of Iron IV screenshot
Hearts of Iron IV screenshot

Game Review: Hearts of Iron IV

Background

Hearts of Iron IV is the fourth entry in the Hearts of Iron series from Paradox Interactive, the developers behind Europa Universalis, Crusader Kings and Stellaris. The year is 1945, on September 1st the old world is under the control of the resurgent Neo-Ottoman Empire. The old imperial powers of Britain, France and their allies have been pushed to the bottom of the African continent. The Americans are fearful of involving themselves due to a nuclear bomb having been detonated on New York, Washington DC and Boston: the prelude to the invasion of the Turkish Island hopping campaign. The Soviet Union and Nazi Germany have collapsed along with all major resistance in Europe. Today is only the start of the new empire of sons of Otto. This sums up my first 15 hours of my third campaign of this truly wondrous game: a game that lets you think and plan as a military planner would need to.

Story

The backdrop of the game takes place in either 1936 or in 1939. In 1936, you can push your nation state in certain ways that in 1939 would be impractical to do. This could be factors such as improving infrastructure, researching certain technologies and planning ahead of time. As such, for those more interested in the grand planning, it would be best to play in the 1936 era as you could look at your nation state and research how to progress in a way that would suit your playstyle. For those more interested in the grand conquests then picking a powerful nation in 1939 could be more of what you are looking for.

Mechanics

The mechanics feel at times like a more polished Europa style but at the same time feels like the game is trying to be overly complex. What the game aims to be is to as close to reality as possible but still be enjoyable as a game, a feature reflected in the game’s mechanics in many ways. For example, the game makes sure that you understand the importance of ensuring your forces are supplied with fuel, replacements and other logistic equipment – if you lack in some of these areas your troops could be hindered or beaten even if you outnumber and outclass the enemy. However, my biggest annoyance is how hard and tedious it can be to launch sea and air invasions. If you were to attack the United Kingdom, for example, you would need to have 75% control of the air as well almost complete control of all the parts of the sea you would need to send your troops. If you compare this to a game like Europa Universal IV, if you were to launch a sea invasion you would only need to put the troops on a transporter and send ships to defend it, however, in Hearts of Iron, you need to defend sections of sea and put yourself at risk to a massive sea invasion. I can understand the need to have this but with my experience with Stellaris and Europa it seems really weird in compassion.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Hearts of Iron IV is amazing if you are willing to have the patience for it and attempt to enjoy the game. The game is at its best when you can either become a massive superpower as a minor and weak nation, or when you finally defeat a nemesis that has long since been needing a good conquering.

Score

8 out of 10

Far Cry Primal Screenshot
Far Cry Primal Screenshot

Game Review: Far Cry Primal

Background

Far Cry Primal has an interesting concept, aiming to make you feel like a primitive homosapien in the era after the Ice Age and the creation of the first civilisations such as the Indus Valley. Gone are the guns, cars and most explosions and instead you are given clubs, bows, spears and various animal buddies. To some extent the game succeeds in creating a Far Cry experience without the key weapons and tools in the series, however, the game becomes rather boring and repetitive despite the different backdrop.

Story

The story of Far Cry Primal is rather simple: you play as Takkar who is looking to rebuild his tribe after an attack from a sabretooth cat which led him to lose contact with them. Following this he begins the process of rebuilding his tribe and learning new ways to control animals and powers . The plot itself is rather simplistic but allows you to fully immerse yourself in an era in history that’s not really done in modern games. For example it’s rather fun when you use your animal powers to replace your need for going in on an elephant like in Far Cry 4 but instead become a mammoth and wreck everything.

Mechanics

There are a few elements worth mentioning, with the most obvious one being the ability to tame and control animals, adding a new layer to Far Cry Primal as it allows you to think differently and adapt tactics and ideas – for example you may scout with a bird up high which then allows you to summon sabretooth cats to help maul your enemies as you go about sneaking in and taking out the majority of the enemies one by one. Furthermore, the game’s focus on melee weapons means that crafting new weapons become even more important than in previous games. Developing fire based weapons or strong spears and clubs would give you an advantage so gathering materials becomes far more important than in other Far Cry Games. The developers also created a language for each of the tribes, made as real as possible by working with linguistic specialist. It is amazing to hear almost the foundation for certain languages as best as can be shown with modern technology and it is far more interesting than having people just speak English or even different modern languages and add subtitles. Subtitles are added but this still somewhat feels like a plausible idea of what languages in this part of human history sounded like.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the ideas and themes that Far Cry Primal brings to the table allows it to be an amazing game as a concept. However, the game at times feels like it owes too much to the Far Cry formal and that lets it down despite being an totality different backdrop. As such I feel that this a interesting idea that should be given the love and attention it deserves to try become the game it could be.

Score

7 out of 10