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Video Game Review – Middle-Earth: Shadow of War

Middle-earth Shadow of War continues from where the previous game left you — with a ring of power, which you promptly lose to the female form of the giant spider Shelob. Don’t worry you don’t have to play the previous games to get caught up here. A short intro does the catching up for you.

You, of course, play digital meat puppet, Talion. Now that Talion has lost the new ring of power, you have to rely on the wraith Celebrimbor to keep you alive and defeat your foes.

The story is subpar and, frankly, not very engaging. But, the story is just setting you up for what really matters — the nemesis combat system. Nemesis system turns orc captains into villains complete with unnecessarily long, sometimes hilarious and even rhyming self-introductions.

Though in reality the nemesis system is more than just that — the system turns orcs into actual characters that can gain notoriety for killing you or come back from the brink of death more powerful than before, to exact vengeance. It is, as it was with the previous game, the reason why you keep going back to Shadow of War.

The enemies on an individual basis are easy to defeat, but as the swarm gets bigger, things heat up. You may need to run from battle from time to time to replenish your health. Running away from battle also lets elite units adapt to your tricks and moves, which can make things harder, when you power-up and come back.

But, this is the fun of Shadow of War. Becoming powerful to defeat your enemies is the crux of the nemesis system.

You can defeat villains over five huge maps of Shadow of War — all the terrains are very different and provide good variety. Powers and weapons like any good RPG can be upgraded, but the upgrades are hard to achieve.

This is probably why the developers introduced the microtransactions. While microtransactions can give you everything you need to defeat foes, including legendary items, it defeats the purpose of having enemies that upgrade when you or they die. It makes the game lose its mojo.
Middle-Earth Shadow of War is a game you will be playing for a very long time, and still not tire of.

The game is worth it, just for the battle with the Balrog if nothing else. If you are in the mood for combat RPG and you love Lord of the Rings, you can’t go wrong with this one.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of War
Rating: 4/5
Developer: Monolith Productions
Publisher: Warner Bros
Platform: PC, PS4, XBO
Price: PC: Rs 2,999 PS4/XBO: Rs 3,499

Home Projector, Smart Projector 3200 Lumens Portable LED Video Projector support MHL HDMI USB VGA HD Digital Multimedia LCD Projector with Stereo Built-in Speaker Free HDMI Cable, Black – Mega Value

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BOOK REVIEW: Harford's an excellent read, cover-to-cover

You owe your modern lifestyle to the humble plough.

Fifty Things That Made the Modern Economy AUTHOR: Tim Harford

PUBLISHER: Pan MacMillan REVIEWER: Tumo Mokone Yes, the same agriculture tool you have seen from a distance while travelling in the countryside.

Ironically, the very fact that you might have seen the plough from afar is the reason that your career is in a different sector of the economy. No one can lay claim to the creation of the plough but the author’s historical narrative vouches for the farming tool breaking the ground for the creation of the modern society and economies that dominate human life today. Why?

Because that’s when people abandoned their hunter-gatherer existence to settle down into settlements. But the rest of the fifty things Harford credits for revolutionarising the world have people being credited for their ideas and creations. I liked the story of how infant formula milk changed women’s life, both at home and in public, thrusting females’ quest for improved odds in the world of work.

Would you believe a volcano eruption in Indonesia inspired the creation of formula milk for babies in German town of Darmstadt? The story goes that in 1815 a “vast cloud of volcanic ash drifted across the southern hemisphere, blocking the sun”. Apparently, this led to Europe missing out on its summer season in 1816, leading to crop failure and people eating rats and grass.

Justus von Liebig, son of a chemist who specialised in making pigments and paints, used his knowledge of chemistry to pioneer nutritional science. He created beef extract, but his creation of the first-ever commercial substitute for breast milk in 1865 simply changed the world. While Liebig enjoyed recognition for his inventions in his life, fellow German Rudolf Diesel died at sea before seeing how his creation – the diesel engine – changed the industrial world.

Harford storytelling is engaging, witty and anecdotal. When narrating the story of how Joseph Woodland was inspired to create the bar code, he writes: “On a visit to his grandparents in Miami he sat on the beach, pondered and … a thought struck him.” Fifty Things That Made the Modern Economy lists other items one would have taken for granted, including video games, double-entry bookkeeping, blades and cuneiform, a form of writing invented 5000 years ago by Sumerians of Mesopotamia.

Among more modern inventions is the mobile banking system which took off via M-Pesa in Kenya, securing a new life even for simple folk as far as Afghanistan. Necessity is the mother of invention, you must have heard. Harford also shows that invention and innovation make the world go round, despite a few disappointments here and there because of unnecessary excesses and human error.

An excellent read, cover to cover.