I don’t think that there are many who haven’t heard of The Lord of the Rings franchise yet. Whether you read the books or watched the movies you are aware of the quality of the universe created by J.R.R. Tolkien. Unfortunately for the gaming community there hasn’t been a game that could truly match the success of the series and deliver the ultimate LotR experience, that fans always dreamed of. Well, I am glad to announce that this year things have changed with the launch of “MIddle-Earth : Shadow of Mordor”. Developer Monolith starts their journey through Middle-Earth with the right foot by delivering a fun, unique experience with a title that is under alot of attention and pressure from the fans.
However, despite the fact that we are talking about a product that is part of the LotR franchise, the game is not using this name. Instead of Lord of the Rings we see Middle-Earth. I didn’t point this out without a reason, for me the game title means that the game is not quite a money grabber, and also that it doesn’t want to be known only because it’s a game about the vast world of LotR, it means that they wanted something fresh. But let’s just cut to the chase and see what Shadow of Mordor can offer us. The action is set between the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and tells the story of Talion, a ranger of Gondor whom after some series of unfortunate events becomes trapped between life and death. But you’ll find out that the story isn’t just about him, it’s also about the Wraith who stands beside him.The bound between those characters directly affects the gameplay and gives them both the chance of revenge. For someone who doesn’t know anything about Tolkien’s universe the story will not seem very complex. It will look probably like a classic revenge tale. But the story is offering very interesting details about this fantastic universe and gives you some background information about some well known characters of the series, with the help of some brilliant voice acting and gorgeous graphics.Enough about the story because the gameplay is the aspect of this game that really shines. Being an open world action adventure game the movement is very important. Many would say that the movement is inspired by Assassin’s Creed. It might have some common features like Assassin’s Creed had with Prince of Persia, but overall it builds on that because Talion has some unique abilities and because the enviroment offers some interesting rides like the Caragors.The stealth is pretty basic but it works very well and there is nothing to complain about.In terms of combat we encounter a similar hypothesis like we did in movement but this time the game is compared with the Batman Arkham games. The Core is pretty similar but again the powers that can be unlocked throught the game makes Talion skills unique making his fighting style a sort of combination between the styles of Aragon and Legolas. In addition to this the battles are brutal and gory, reminding of some scenes from the movies.Now a truly remarcable thing is how the game interacts with you, the way it makes you feel. And this is an essential aspect of every game. In this sector Shadow of Mordor makes everything flawless, you really feel that your actions are influencing the world of the game. Unlike other games winning a battle or dying in it matters not only for you, but also for your foes. How is the game doing that? Well by implementing an unique gameplay element named the Nemesis system. Let’s take our time and talk about it because it’s the aspect that will make you remember this game for years. So in this game your main enemies are the Uruks. Their army is structured very naturaly from a simple soldier that has no specific rank to Warchiefs. Every one of them has their own personality, strenghts and weak points. They’re randomly generated uniquely with each playthrough so it’s unlikely that you will encounter the same Uruk twice.Now when you battle a number of enemies there is a chance that you will get killed. Here is the interesting part the Uruk that kills you will be promoted and next time you’ll encounter him in another fight he will remeber you and also that he killed you. Because as I said in the beggining. Tallion is stuck between life and death receving the name Gravewalker for that, so everytime he gets killed is resurected at one of the forge towers.Throught the game you’ll have to take down Warchiefs. The Nemesis system gives you many possibilities to do that. Before killing a Warchief you can first go after his bodyguard to interogate him and this way you can obtain precious information about your target. After that, you can go challenge directly the Warchief or dominate his bodyguard or even other Warchiefs, bending them to your will in order to create your own army and start a riot or a betrayal act that will make things easier for you. Sometimes, because of this combination between the Nemesis system and stealth elements, you can just stay into a vantage point and watch the battle.Another interesting aspect of the game is the way it plays depending on what kind of gamer you are, it gives choice, freedom. You can just jump right into battle slashing everything you see, or you can plan from the shadows poisoning the Uruks, make them fight each other with the Wraiths power. So this game gave me an unique feeling letting me approach a situation the way i want to. It made me feel at the same time powerful and vulnerable and most important it cares about my actions by sending me a feedback everytime I do something and this is sucking the gamers into this universe. This makes the game so special. We can talk all day about the technical aspects of a game but in the end, what matters is the way it makes you feel, and this can be achived by a harmonious combination of story, atmosphere and gameplay. And in Shadow of Mordor this combination exists. It might not pop up from the beggining but if you give it time you won’t regret it.To sum up, Middle-Earth:Shadow of Mordor is a game that not only overpasses past LotR games, but also it sets the bar higher for open world action adventure games by creating an unique, strong connection between the fictional world potrayed in the Peter Jackson movies and the gamer.
Final Opinion: EXCELLENT (shite, cash grab, mediocre, good, excellent).