Welcome back to Middle-earth! More importantly, welcome back to Mordor, since this is where the majority of the game takes place. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is a new entry into this fantasy world crafted by J.R.R. Tolkien. Let’s see if this game can become a great game, not just an ordinary one, like so many before it.
You (the player) er… play as Talion, a ranger from Gondor. The rangers are tasked with safeguarding Middle-earth against Sauron and his evil forces. Unfortunately, that didn’t quite happen. Your family is murdered right in front of you, while you are killed, but cursed as well. Your body is bonded to a wraith named Celebrimbor. Celebrimbor is/was an elf. He has a dark history that Talion must uncover, but both characters are after the same people. The story itself is excellent. It holds up and has a dark nature to it. There is emotion, and at times laughter throughout the 30 hours, it takes to play the game.The story main focus is about revenge which changes into redemption. It is a classic story arc, but it works well. Talion does meet various different characters along the way, even an orc decides to help, but he has his own agenda as well.
What I did appreciate is that there were very little characters from the books and movies in this game. This game did have a couple characters mentioned from the book, but only Gollum really made an appearance. The stories take place entirely in Mordor. Luckily, Mordor is not all dark and barren. There will be a lush island to explore as well. For the story, there are not too many twists and turns, but it does give insight to the ring of power, and more backstory to Sauron. Created my Monolith, and published by Warren Brothers, let’s see if this game can live up to the hype.
The gameplay is solid, taking many cues from the Batman games and the Assassin Creed games; Talion can climb crouch and hide in bushes. There are stealth takedowns, ledge takedowns, and ledge takedowns. Many of these moves are from the games previously mentioned. There is nothing wrong, and the fighting mechanics do take a huge influence from both these games. The beginning part of the game is difficult enough, but eventually the game is too easy. Later in the game, Talion has the ability to use Celebrimbor power to turn orcs over to his side. There is no restriction on how many times a player can do this. It became that every fight I had been me turning orcs to my side. You can also turn the bosses or captains and chieftains on your side. The other problem was the enemy diversity is not very deep. There are the regular orcs, archers, and ones with shields, after that, there is not much else besides the mini-bosses, and bosses.
There are some wow factor experiences in this game. Riding a Caragor or Graug can be a blast to ride around in. Both creatures will attack anyone, but Talion with the help of Celebrimbor can tame them. These creatures will attack anyone, so do be careful.
The one thing that everyone is talking about in the game is the nemesis system. This is the system that has the various ranks of orcs. It is one of the best parts of the game, and a great idea implemented well. The system has a power ranking system. Each orc has various different power levels, and strengths and weaknesses. Even though the strengths and weaknesses are usually the same, the system itself is still great. If the player skips a day, then the nemesis systems play out like a chess board. Some orcs attack others, and if they win gain rank and become more powerful. Killing any of these orcs can send up one orc from the ranks. If a player dies from a regular orc or any other caption, then an orc can gain rank and power ranking. It is a continuous system that makes me wonder why no one has done this before?
The sides mission was a bit repetitive after a while.They took place in various parts of the map, but it usually was about killing a certain amount of people. It was nice that each of the sword, knife, or bows side missions gave the story of each weapon that forged the legend. Helping out the outcasts is another side mission. It usually consists of rescuing three people. It never really changes. These quests seem to be unlimited as well. I just wish there was more variety in these.
There were a few types the camera was in an odd spot, or did not pan out right and made it a little difficult do fight an opponent. The other times it was unknown which opponent, this was only a problem when there were multiple ones on screen at a time. This can happen many times as well, I faced at least 20 enemies at once on more than one occasion. There were some instances where climbing was an issue. Sometimes I could not get Talion to climb a climbable spot. It was odd, but after a few tries, I could him to climb it.Beyond this issues, it was a fun experience.
The Graphics and Sound:
First off I run an i7 Haswell chip, with 16 GB of ram, and an ATI 7800 series graphics card. So, before going on, I must warn you that anyone without my specs or better may not be able to run the game at the same level. Anyways, I did run the game at a high level, and I can say this is a “next-gen” game. Even though the PC has always been ahead of the consoles, the game looks great. The facial expressions look believable to the swaying of Talion’s cape against the wind. When the rain falls in Mordor everything does get wet, even your character. The orcs skins look wet. I did not see any screen tearing or any other glitches in the game engine. It ran pretty smoothly until I decided to turn up the graphics settings. There is a free download to unlock the ultra settings in the game. Playing it for a bit, I really did not see any difference. The only thing that changed was some slow down every once in a while. The load times were a bit longer as well.
The sound quality was great. The bees going after orcs sounded lifelike, to the scared screams of orcs running away was great. The voice acting was also really well done. The voice acting brought the characters to life. Writing is important for any great story, but without the voice acting it would not have been as good of a story as it was.
There is one multiplayer component in the game. It was more of a competition within ourselves. The game gives you a set list of objectives, and a time limit. They also give you a set amount of deaths a player can have. It is basically the same as the base game, without the story.
Is It Worth It?
Yes, this game is extremely fun. The fighting is great, and the nemesis system steals the show. It is the start of the holiday season and Shadows of Mordor is the first great game of the holiday season! It is a great game to add to your Christmas list. If you have the money it would be even better to buy it now!
Middle-Earth: Shadows of Mordor$49.99
- The Nemisis is awesome
- a great use of the Lord of the Rings Franchise
- combat is satifying
- The story fits well within the Lord of the Rings triology
- There's not many reasons to play it once or twice
- The recruiting orcs is a little overpowered
- bosses are forgettable