Middle Earth Title Shadow of Mordor

Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor: Now Playing

Shadow of Mordor is an amalgamation of the best parts of several other exceptional games; Assassin’s Creed, Batman Arkham, and Lord of the Rings. So far the story hasn’t really been overly impactful, but the gameplay is fantastic. Shadow of Mordor lets you roam an open world setting like Assassin’s Creed. The main character, Tailon, also runs, turns, climbs, and behaves exactly as you would expect an Assassin’s Creed main character to move. The main difference is Shadow of Mordor focuses the attention on “in your face” action, instead of stealthy slow placed assassinations. While I’ve always enjoyed the Assassin’s Creed games, the sneaking and stealth gameplay was a bit too slow for my taste.  I mean seriously, you can’t really grow tired of chopping off an orcs head in slow-mo, while panning the camera around for the best possible view of the gory scene! Main missions, side quests, and power struggles are strewn about the map, just like you’d find in an AC game as well.

A Little Bit of Everything

Again, pulling from the best parts of different games, Shadow of Mordor borrows the free-flow combat that we all know and love, from the Batman Arkham Series. While it may seem easy to call foul on lifting the combat so shamelessly, it works! It works and it feels good. Instead of punching and kicking with Batman, you’re loosing arrows, and gutting orcs with a sword, dagger, and bow as Talion. That feeling of being surrounded by 10 or more orcs, and knowing that you’re combat prowess WILL see you conquer this crowd of green, if you attack and counter your way through it one by one, is exhilarating. I find myself relishing random encounters just as much as the main mission quests.

Shadow of Mordor Orc Fight
…OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!

We’ve got the best parts of Assassin’s Creed and Batman…all that’s left is to set it all against a backdrop from The Lord of the Rings universe. I’ve already met Gollum in my travels and slayed many orcs. Just recently I acquired the ability ride on the backs of the wolf/dog creatures called Caragors. This allows for faster travel across the land and plays into the fears of some of the orc captains that you must kill. I’ve fought hundreds of orcs by now, and still I don’t feel like I’m just killing the same old orc over and over. Monolith has done an excellent job making each orc feel unique a gritty in their own way.

Your Enemey Evolves

The big crux of Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor is its Nemesis system. This is a unique system in which your AI enemies learn and grow throughout the game as your enemy, just as you learn and grow as the hero. Anytime you are killed in the game, whichever orc killed you, gets promoted, and moves up the ranks in Sauron’s dark army.

Likewise, if there is a power struggle between two orc captains, if you don’t step in and stop it, the victor of that battle will grow in power and strength, making your next confrontation with him, that much more difficult. Killing these orc captains will drop a “rune” that you can infuse in your bow, sword, or dagger for advantages like extra damage, or regained health from kills. Each of these captains has strengths and weaknesses and by using your wraith skill, you can intimidate low orcs on the totem pole to give you Intel about the captains you’re after. This Intel will expose captain orcs weaknesses, giving you the much-needed advantage in the encounter to come.

Shadow of Mordor Nemesis
Sauron’s Army shown off in the Nemesis System. A hierarchy of enemy captain orcs.

So far Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor has exceeded my expectations, and I highly recommend it to anyone that enjoyed Assassin’s Creed, Batman Arkham, and/or Lord of The Rings. Sometimes borrowing elements from a previously released game or series feels cheap and ripped off. In Shadow of Mordor, Monolith pulled off the successful infusion of the best elements from similar games, while adding their own unique components, making the game feel distinctly its own.

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