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    I've been playing Middle-earth: Shadow of War for just over 10 hours. It's a huge game, so I'm not yet ready with my full review, but I wanted to give my early impressions of what has proven to be quite a controversial title.
    It shouldn't have been controversial, though. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor was a sleeper hit from a few years back, successfully and faithfully blending Assassin's Creed-like open world gameplay with rhythmic, Batman: Arkham-style combat. It was a little rough, but full of heart, and its procedurally-generated orc system gave it the unique hook it needed to ascend above being a simple AC rip-off with a big-name license attachment.

    As a Lord of the Rings game, Shadow of Mordor had to navigate existing franchise lore, a staunch, established fanbase, while wrapping it together in a compelling action game – Monolith more than delivered.
    The announcement of the game's sequel, Shadow of War, sent waves through the community earlier this year, particularly for Xbox fans, as it was announced to be an Xbox Play Anywhere title as a single-purchase across Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs. For some (myself included), the hype train was a little derailed following the revelation Shadow of War would revolve around pesky loot crate gambling mechanics, rewarding players with gameplay-circumventing loot in exchange for real money.
    Many rightly feared the game would be needlessly grindy to compensate, driving up the incentive to hand over real money simply to get ahead, skewing gameplay around the luck of the loot box draw rather than honest-to-goodness balanced reward systems. After 10 hours in, honestly, that doesn't seem to be the case.
    While Middle-earth: Shadow of War hasn't blown me away so far, it's a solid open world action game, and the loot boxes are just, well, stupid.

    Full story from the WindowsCentral blog...
    10-12-2017 08:10 AM

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