“Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor” is a great example of how to take a beloved and well-known intellectual property, and turn it into an incredible game.
Video games based on films are almost always shallow, poorly made attempts to cash in on a well-known franchise. “Shadow of Mordor” differs from these games because it builds its own story and world away from the movies, and in the process creates a narrative that rivals that of the films instead of just building off of them. “Shadow of Mordor” is the best “Lord of the Rings” game ever made, and it is an immersive and entertaining experience for both the average gamer and Tolkien fan alike.
The strongest and weakest aspect of “Shadow of Mordor” is its story and characters. From the opening scene until the credits roll, “Shadow of Mordor” is a dark and gritty narrative that never holds itself back. The game begins with the slaughter of our hero Talion’s family, and the game shows this gruesome scene in full detail. This is part of what makes “Shadow of Mordor” great; it doesn’t hold back on truly making Mordor a place full of pain and evil. By showcasing the blood, war and savagery that controls Mordor, “Shadow of Mordor” creates an unforgiving and violent world.
The story centers on revenge; revenge for Talion who witnessed his wife and son brutally murdered, and revenge for the wraith controlling him. Locked out of the afterlife and forced to wander Mordor, Talion will only find peace if he can avenge his family. Summoned back to the world of the living, the wraith controlling Talion struggles to not only regain his memory but also take revenge on the dark lord Sauron. Talion and his wraith counterpart are the strongest characters in the game, and are what make this journey so memorable. Voiced by the great Troy Breaker (“The Last of US,” “Infamous: Second Son”), Talion is an easy hero to sympathize and root for; Talion and the wraith will banter throughout the game outside of cut scenes, and these small effects go a long way in in the immersion process.
Visually, the game is stunning. From cut scenes to open world exploration, the game is gorgeous, and both character models and Mordor are brought to life in beautiful detail. The game’s two maps are filled with fortresses and open plains to explore, and no matter where your character is, you will be impressed by not only the graphics on display but the amount happening in the background.
Unarguably the greatest aspect of this game is its combat. At the end of the day, “Shadow of Mordor” is extremely fun to play. Combat is played like “Sleeping Dogs” or “Arkham Asylum,” but it is even tighter and more refined than those games. Talion has the options for frontal assault with his sword, stealth with his dagger, or range with his wraith bow. As you level your character and your weapons, you will unlock combos and powers that make Talion god-like, an incredible feeling but never too overpowered. Abilities will unlock allowing you to teleport to enemies and immediately kill them, and a large variety of combo moves are added to your arsenal making even the most basic combat interaction engaging and exciting.
You will slaughter and brand thousands of Orcs through your journey across Mordor, but you will never get bored doing so. Controlling an Orc army to go to war against their comrades is just as satisfying as it sounds. During your time with “Shadow of Mordor” you will have a large variety and quantity of side quests, collectibles, and main story missions to keep you busy but to go along with that you may well dedicate hours to the nemesis system and conquering the armies of Mordor. Combat only becomes more fun and engaging the more you play “Mordor,” and by the end of it, you will be able to mount and ride the wild animals inhabiting the world.
I strongly recommend “Shadow of Mordor” to any action gamer. It is a must have for any fan of “Lord of the Rings.” “Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor” is an incredible open world action game with addictive combat and a great story. From beginning to end, the game is fun to play, and the story and world are engaging and immersive. The great nemesis and addictive combat warrant a purchase for any fan of the genre.