The world of Tolkien has seen its representations a number of times in video games and movies. However, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor takes a couple of liberties in the world to create its own narrative. Gone are the usual games based on the movies and instead brings a who new story to tell in a familiar world with easily the best gameplay seen in any of the previous Tolkien games leaving Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor as possibly the biggest surprise of the year.
In Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, you play as Talion who has been tasked with guarding the Black Gate. Unfortunately, Sauran’s Ururks capture and kill you and your family. However, an the elf lord Calebrimbor brings Talion back to life to help him get his memory back it being a wraith has wiped him of his memories.
The story of the campaign missions are good enough to enjoy the 20 or so missions there are but it definitely the weaker story at play in Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. The missions are fairly standard for the genre and doesn’t add a lot of variation the what you do. The main campaign is also done withing a dozen hours but there are so much to explore that will easily last you double that.
The most interesting story to be experienced in Middle-earth is in the story you end up telling thanks to the Nemesis system. this hierarchical system that sees Uruk captain and chiefs move up and down the power-ladder based on who you kill, who you let grow in power and who actually kills you. The game isn’t incredibly hard but a couple of hits will see Talion go down. The gameplay is quite similar to two games in particular: Assassin’s Creed and the Batman Arkham series. Movement around the open-world is similar to the Ubisoft game while combat will remind you of the Batman brawler. However, movement feels incredibly smooth in both these departments, smoother than the other two games in question. Everything from moving around buildings to taking on a dozen uruks feels satisfying and brisk.
The Nemesis system will see you make your own narrative taking down the WarChiefs and creation your own tactics that can take hours to fulfil. Once you hit half-way through the game, you gain the ability to essentially take over the mind of uruks. This gives you more of a choice as to how to take on WarChiefs.
The game doesn’t throw everything at you in the beginning. It’s not afraid to change things up a little as you go along. As I’ve mentioned, you don’t gain the ability to take over an uruks mind until half-way through the game as well as unlock a whole new area to explore.
Upgrading Talion is another great way to expand your fun. As you take down captains you gain runes that can be equipped to your weapons that offer new attributes that actually make you want to take down as many captains as possibly for the chance to find awesome runes. That couple with the upgrade system is a neat addition that will want you to max out Talion as each new ability actually feels like worthwhile additions.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is easily one of the best games to release this year. The open-world gameplay coupled with the Tolkien lore creates one of the most captivating worlds and systems that makes it very hard for you to walk away as there always seems like a new story for you to tell.