Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Orcish bedfellows

There is something sinister lurking just out of sight in Shadow of War. No, it is not the hamfisted mirco-transaction based economy. I have not run into that yet and have it on good authority that a careful and meticulous playthrough negates its importance. It is not Gollum, who shows up for some reason and whose voice I swore was Andy Serkis until I looked it up. Nor is it my incredulousness at Shelob being transformed from giant spider to shoeless brunette bombshell. That feeling is right out there in the open because no amount of explanation can make me believe that it is not a really stupid idea.

What's hiding is how important the nemesis system is, how much I may dislike it, and how parts of the first game that I completely ignored have been brought to the forefront. I never compelled any orcs to join my army in the first game, never watched them rise through the ranks, never called them to my aid in a moment of crisis. Talion needs no help, he is immortal and he has something against orcs' heads remaining attached to their necks. Without that part of the game Shadow or Mordor was still a pretty good open world action romp. It cribbed liberally from the Arkham games for its combat and played very fast and loose with the lore.

I am reminded of Brutal Legend, a game in which the good parts kept me going through the bad. The metal and the mayhem buoyed me through the terrible RTS sections. And Jack Black, because fuck Jack Black.

Shadow of War has not dropped the 'build an army by tracking down captains and brainwashing them' hammer yet but I know it is coming. Why else would you be able to purchase orcs on the open market? I would sooner drop the game to easy than spend money on random loot boxes, an option which was highlighted by the game itself. This is going to be a Chamberlain does not want to play the game as intended fight, one that I may not be able to win.

The captains themselves feel much more aggressive this time around, often abushing you while you are already fighting another one. On several occasions I found myself up against three captains, a fight that I was just not going to win. Whichever captain gets in the last hit levels up, mocks you, and then is still floating around when you come back, ready to kick your ass again. One captain did this to me three times, albeit because I failed the quick time event required to land the killing blow each time, not because he beat me.

Fuck quick times events. And fuck Jack Black again, just for good measure.

I will not take it easy, Jack! Brutal Legend was about 50% awesome, 10% tolerable and 40% shit. You were most of that 40%. At least 110% of that 40%. Fucking Ozzy and Lemmy and Rob Halford and god damn Tim Curry were in that game. How did you get in there, hm? What credentials do you have other being the approximate shape of a roady?! Does Tim Schafer live for soul patch blow jobs?!

Yeah, you heard me.

Shadow of War will be played like Assassin's Creed: Middle Earth until it becomes untenable. Then, well, I am not sure what I am going to do, but buying orcs via the loot box slave trade is not on the table.

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