Consoles: Xbox 360 & One, PC, PS3 & PS4
Release Dates: September 30th and November 18th
Developer: Monolith Productions
Publisher: Warner Brothers
When I saw the gameplay of Shadow of Mordor at E3 this past year, I was honestly unimpressed. It looked very sketchy with graphics being sub par and combat looked sluggish. I was expecting to skip this game this season and wait for the $10 bin. Well, I did pick it up and what I saw was something I did not see coming. This title quickly became my precious.
Shadow of Mordor has one of the strongest stories I have played in a video game this year. The story takes place between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings films. You take control of a ranger by the name of Talion. In the beginning of game Talion sees his family brutally sacrificed by the Black Hand of Sauron. The Black Hand sacrificed Talion’s family and Talion in order to release the spirit of the Elf Lord Celebrimbor. However before Talion crosses over into the world of eternal peace, Celebrimbor merges with him and brings him back to life. This is where the game really takes off you are now free to go about and explore middle earth. You are trying to either kill or brainwash urks in order to go after Sauron and learn more about Celebrimbor. This could have easily been one of my favorite Lord of the Rings movies but instead this is absolutely perfect for a game.
The gameplay for Shadow of Mordor has gotten a lot of publicity (not in the best way). The combat is similar to the styles of the Arkham Asylum games and the wall climbing, exploration, and character model is identical to the Assassin’s Creed franchise. There was a lawsuit that tried to say this game stole game engine from Assassin’s Creed II. While there are some similarities there is enough variety to keep it from being a complete copy.
Shadow of Mordor takes the best of both and makes a fantastic experience. There is plenty to explore from hunting quests to slave liberations to rune upgrades. The combat flows nice and easy (which I am glad) and makes cutting into urks that much better. Where Batman doesn’t show blood and death, Shadow does! This is a game that will show decapitations and eye gauging deaths and it fits perfectly.
The map is pretty big not as big as Farcry 3 but a decent size to where you can see some cool landscapes and varieties. There are also plenty of creatures to ride and take control to help you cover more ground. While playing the game you can scale light towers that reveal keypoints and missions on the map.
Now here is a fantastic feature that makes this game stick out above other titles and that is the nemesis system. Basically when the game starts there is a set of mini bosses that serve the Black Hand of Sauron. Some missions you will have to go out and kill/brain wash them in order get what you need. Well when you kill a mini bosses on the chart there will either be a blank spot or skull and cross bones where they were. It will stay like that until you die. When you die by either a normal npc or a mini boss the spots will be filled by either npcs or mini bosses which will get promoted and stronger. So when you come back to see them they remember you and it makes revenge ever so sweet.
For the most part this game is great looking! There are times when certain areas have some texture issues in the grassy areas and caves but not enough to through you out of the experience. Still some of the cutscenes look a little out dated but the gameplay looks great and really does show some power of the next gen system. The uruks look fantastic and most of them have distinct features like scars or heads around their belt. It really shows how much work they put in this title.
Shadow of Mordor is hands down a little gem that didn’t make a big splash at E3 but quickly became one of the top LTOR titles to date and one of my favorite titles of the year. With a great story and a solid mixture of great combat and stealth. This is one title you don’t want to miss. I give it a 4.5 stabs out of 5.
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