Batman Arkham, Celebrimbor, combos, death, Fighting, Gameplay, killing, Lord of the Rings, LotR, mechanics, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor, Mordor, Nemesis system, PC, Playstation 4, Playstation3, Ring, story, Talion, Tolkien, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One
(SOME SPOILERS AHEAD)
Shadow of Mordor was an excellent way to get back into the Lord of the Rings franchise. It provided a huge, extensive open world with some dark and ominous scenery. It has some amazing gameplay with a huge variety in combat mechanics which can be used extensively, and a vast amount of detail referring . While both being faithful to the LotR backstory, it delves deeper into Tolkiens books and focuses on Talion and Celebrimbor, however, these two protagonists both share the same body. The game itself follows Talions tragic start, and his quest for vengeance.
The story of the game is definitely something worth playing through. The beginning didn’t quite have the same amount of feelings as a game such as ‘The Last of Us’ with Joel losing his daughter. Yet you felt a committment to avenge the death of your family and you get complete free reign to do so. So Talion ventures into mordor to kill anything who has wronged him or done him harm. Throughout this story you’ll go through feelings of sadness, anger and the pursuit of a vendetta. It also delves into the information concerning the wraith that you find yourself bonded with and the power of the Rings. The story is intricate enough to keep you interested, but you may occasionally sway away to go kill something or go explore the world while riding a Caragor.
Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor has brought a very interesting new system to its game called the ‘nemesis system’. This is a very important part of the gameplay, as it shows Talion turning and/or killing orcs and uruk-hai against one another, to gain xp and power. After discussing the game with other players, they felt that they were so drawn into going after orcs who had killed them, or becoming more determined to gain more power, they felt far stronger than they should have been at the time in the story. Yet every time they were killed (as you technically never die within the game) the orc or enemy who killed you and became stronger became a massive adversary to you, and even makes you feel a personal vendetta to go and get revenge on them. It’s very clever in the way that it never becomes dull, there are always new targets to go after and people you want to take down. It feels very much like an Assassins Creed game where you were determined to take down your target in a multitude of different ways. Its nearly impossible to ignore the rising power of the orcs whcih will draw you away from the story, vastly increasing the amount of game time and playability from the randomly generated orc/uruk captains.
There is a downside to the nemesis system which is that you start noticing repetition concerning the names, features (appearance) and phrases of the enemy Captains the more you fight them and they lose their random appeal. This isn’t necessarily a bad problem, effectively it shows whether the player is enjoying the system by doing it constantly and if they enjoy it or not, It efficiently adds a lot of depth and satisfaction in your quest to avenge your family. Either by cutting off heads, or forcing enemies to fight for you.
I’ve briefly touched on the combat above about excecutions but it delves so much deeper than that. It feels like a mixture of the ‘God of War’ franchice, the ‘Batman Arkham’ series and (again) ‘Assassins Creed’. After playing the game for long enough you finally get good enough to successfully chain together tons of moves (including your wraith powers) to combat hordes and hordes of enemies overwhelming you within a single area. When you pull off combinations killing off 15 enemies in a single area its amazingly satisfying. In the middle of fights you can switch to your wraith form as Celebrimbor (one of the Elves who became a wraith from LotR) where time will slow down around you and become bright and white, such as when Frodo saw them in ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ where you can use an ethereal bow and powers to control and shoot your enemies before they realise whats happening.
Within the game there is also a counter quick-time-event system which allows you to combat enemies auto attacks to attack back in a smooth, flawless style. There is also a last-chance counter, where if you’re about to be killed and are on the ground you can do a single counter which will get you back up off the floor to continue the fighting. This is both good and bad, as the fighting feels clean however the screen can very quickly become cluttered by so many enemies covering your camera and swarming you causing frantic action and slightly ruining the fun when the game requires you to back off to a more open area so you can see the fighting. But for some reason, the game could have just been you fighting thousands of simplistic enemies using your combat and wraith powers and the game would still be a ton of fun.
There have been a few bugs noticed by multiple people I’ve seen playing the game. They mainly concern issues when climbing walls and traversing the open world. There are no specified paths of how to climb up hills, scale the mountains or traverse the whole of Mordor. This isn’t overly bad, its just an issue when you find yourself trapped up the side of a mountain with no idea how to reach to top and you end up just sitting there either forced to climb all the way back down and find an alternate path. Or getting completely stuck on the wall with nowhere to go and then having to drop to the ground and either die or lose your health which is rather frrustrating when hunting a target. Another small issue simply focuses on when enemies get trapped on small corners, this can interrupt combat and just becomes annoying when you find your combat chain gets stopped due to an enemy running in place when caught on the corner of a wall.
This is a game full of endless fun and lore. Providing hours of combat with a variety of different mechanics (that feel very similar to previous games) and plenty of different moves, executions and powers. The world has been very well detailed with enemies that stay true to the LotR universe. It provides next-gen graphics as well as the nemesis system which has made it stand out as a truly fantastic game. Apart from the slight issue of repetition, which wouldn’t happen unless you put in a large amount of game time which you wouldn’t have unless you enjoy it. This is truly a game that lives up to its hype and playability. This was a bloody, violent, incredible experience that should be played by fans and non-fans of the franchise alike.