Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The One Game to Rule Them All; Gaming Conquer Middle-Earth's Darkest Corners in the New Lord of the Rings-Themed Adventure, Says Ben Travis

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The One Game to Rule Them All; Gaming Conquer Middle-Earth's Darkest Corners in the New Lord of the Rings-Themed Adventure, Says Ben Travis

Article excerpt

Byline: Ben Travis

ANYONE who has delved into the adventures of Bilbo Baggins will know there is one fantasy world to rule them all. And now there's another opportunity to immerse yourself in JRR Tolkien's Middle-Earth, reimagined in a brooding role-playing game. Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, the sequel to 2014's Shadow of Mordor, is a video game that takes players into the darkest corners of Tolkien's creation, set in the gap between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

It's far removed from the cosy hobbit holes of the Shire. Shadow of War's huge open-world sandbox environments draw on the fires of Mount Doom and the doomed city of Minas Ithil, as ominous forces gather over Sauron's return.

Instead of good-hearted heroes like Frodo and Bilbo Baggins, players take on the role of grieving warrior Talion avenging the death of his family.

Michael de Plater, creative vicepresident of developer Monolith explains: "Talion is fighting and sacrificing himself for the same things that Sam and Frodo were, but he's much more of an everyman hero than the noble heroes in The Lord of the Rings, he's more like Boromir and Aragorn."

If Tolkien's books contain immense detail about Middle-Earth and its history, and Peter Jackson's films brought that to the screen on an epic scale, Monolith's games allow fans a new way to experience that world.

"Middle-Earth has a strong sense of place and time which lends itself well to exploration, and video games are an amazing medium for both exploration and immersion," says de Plater, adding that Shadow of War gives players a more personalised Middle-Earth experience. "We put so much emphasis on the Nemesis System, which creates unique personal enemies who remember and evolve in response to your encounters. That's unique to video games."

While the Middle-Earth games have more licence to get creative with lesser-known areas of Tolkien lore, like Jackson's big-screen epics they provide new and sometimes controversial interpretations of the source material. …

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