“Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor”

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First Posted: 10/19/2014

Other than “Dungeons and Dragons”, there hasn’t been a series that has impacted the fantasy genre then the J.R.R Tolkien’s epics “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings”. It is one of my favorite series and there are a ton of games rehashing the same subject with varying success. Most of the games have spanned the spectrum from pretty decent to lousy. There haven’t been any that truly make you feel like you belong in the world till now. “Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor” is a new title set in the Tolkien universe. It’s a new story, in a new time period, with an all new character and exciting graphics and combat system.

“Shadow of Mordor” is an Action/Role-playing game set in the same world but it takes place in a time period we haven’t seen, the 60 years in between “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings”. An exciting thing for a “Rings” fan is hearing the story of a new character and learning about some of the back story behind the mysterious setting of Mordor. The story of “Shadow of Mordor” is all about vengeance, you play as a ranger named Talion who’s family was killed by Sauron and his minions. Tailon is granted Wraith powers by a witch giving him the ability to avenge his family and take on Sauron’s hordes.

The graphics, music, and voice over work is incredible. The highlight of the game which adds the most immersion to the gameplay is the Nemesis System. Nemesis is revolutionary because enemy personalities, characteristics, and actions are determined by your play style and actions. Your actions will create enemies, who will remember you and adapt and change independently. The enemies have a class system just like any army. If a bad guy kills you and you re-spawn, time moves forward and now this bad guy received a promotion for his victory. During the fight you injured him with fire, and now when you meet him again he is afraid of fire. You can also use these systems to manipulate how the Orcs interact with each other pitting them against one another making deception within their ranks. The way the story reacts to your gameplay is unprecedented. Something to point out is the Nemisis system is not in the PS 3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game so the new generation of consoles is the way to play if you have the option.

The action in “Shadow of Mordor” is not for the faint of heart, it is fast, gory and brutal. The fighting feels like it is straight out of a “Batman Arkham” game. Getting around the environment is very similar to the “Assassins Creed” series allowing you to climb your way wherever you want to go. If you have played either of these series the controls should feel natural to you but it might be complex for a beginner. Some of the RPG elements might be hard to figure out but once you get the hang of it upgrades are very satisfying. When you unlock new abilities it changes how you play and it allows you take on bigger and badder enemies and opens up a wealth of new ways to play the game. One of the most interesting is the ability to dominate Orcs making them work for you, you can then plant spies within the enemy ranks so when you make an assault against a particularly hard foe you can activate them and they will take the boss by surprise turning the tables in battle.

Overall I loved “Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor”, this is one of the first must buy games of the new console generations. Graphically it is one of the most impressive games on the market and the Nemesis system is a real game changer when it comes to interacting with the world and enemy A.I. Right now “Shadow of Mordor” is my front runner for game of the year.