Middle-Earth: Shadow of War - Good Times Killing Orcs
The war resumes in Middle-Earth Shadow of War and we’re on the front-lines reporting in with a fresh review and performance analysis. This month Warner Bros. Interactive released their action-RPG sequel to 2014’s Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor. Middle-Earth: Shadow of War is here placing players in the familiar shoes of Talion, a highly-capable human Ranger with special powers. Together with the dead Elf King Celebrimbor, whom shares his body, they must use their combined skills to traverse the various lands of Middle-Earth, dispatching or "Dominating" the many Orc hordes in hopes of amassing an army formidable enough to topple Sauron for good.
Shadow of Mordor fans will be pleased to know that Shadow of War expands on virtually everything that made SoM the sleeper hit it is today. The combat style and 3rd person fluidity akin to the company’s own Batman games returns, as well as the gripping Nemesis and Domination systems. Each has been enhanced along with the world itself, which now encompasses more Middle-Earth terrain and theater, along with its wide variety of backdrops.
For this title Monolith Studios is using a modified version of their prolific LithTech game engine used most recently in the original Shadow of Mordor release. However, PC gamers rejoice; we also have a wide range of in-game settings to tweak. These include Shadow and Lighting Quality, Ambient Occlusion, Tessellation, Texture Quality and Filtering, Motion Blur, Vegetation Range and more.
With the new spit-shined game engine Monolith has expanded the scope and included far more setting and location variety, offering a wider view of the sprawling Middle-Earth. Character detail also receives a nice bump. Unlike the original, Shadows of War offers larger epic battles with more emphasis on building your army through the game’s Domination system, where you suck the soul from hapless Orcs so they fight for your cause. The engine and the game design together offer an experience that feels distinctly familiar yet deftly more sophisticated.
Our Middle-Earth: Shadow of War Test RigOur adventure through Middle-Earth will be powered by and an Intel X99 desktop platform. We have an Intel Core i7-5960X CPU, installed to an ASUS X99-Deluxe motherboard and equipped with a 16GB kit of Corsair Dominator Platinum 3000MHz DDR4 memory. And updated version of Windows 10 is installed on a 512GB Samsung 850 EVO SSD and our game files were installed on a 240GB Corsair MP500 NVME M.2 SSD. We tested the game across a number of resolutions with a plethora of the latest GPUs from NVIDIA and AMD as well.
On the following pages we will give you the broad strokes for the game’s story and campaign, and then move on to visuals and benchmarks before wrapping things up. Lock and load, warriors...