Reflection: Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor

Boromir in The Fellowship of the Ring once stated that “One does not simply walk into Mordor!” Well my friend not only am I walking in Mordor, I seem to be leaving a huge trail of Orc bodies in my wake. Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor was released by Monolith Productions in 2014 and was a highly acclaimed game. However Shadow of Mordor is not your typical hack & slash game which just happens to be set in the Tolkein’s world between the events of the Hobbit Trilogy and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

You play as Talion, a ranger of Gondor who guards the black gate to Mordor (which stops people simply walking into Mordor, and Orcs from Mordor simply walking…anywhere else really). The opening sees you peacefully practicing your sword art with your son, but the game throws you into chaos when the Orcs led by the minions of Sauron (That big glowing orange eye from the first Trilogy) raid the black killing the rangers stationed there and butchering your family in search of harnessing the power of an Elven wraith.  However when they summon the wraith and kill you, the wraith binds his spirit to yours and resurrects you. The story then has Talion walk into Mordor (last time I swear) to help the wraith Celebrimbor recover from his amnesia and to enact revenge for the deaths of his family. So the story is pretty much a generic revenge plot but that is alright.

Talion shows no mercy in dispatching his Orcish foes

 

The story while being set it in Middle-Earth isn’t why I enjoy this game though. Its the Nemesis system that the AI runs on that keeps me coming back. Throughout the game you are tasked with eliminating the key figures in Sauron’s Orc army, the warchiefs and their body guards, in order to weaken Sauron’s power. However as you eliminate these figureheads you leave power vacuums Should you be killed by an Orc, that Orc gains experience and gets promoted to fill in a captain slot, meaning he is more powerful and adds to the number of these figureheads you have to kill. These leaders also have strengths and weaknesses so you have to study your target before defeating him, for example a leader may be weak against ranged attacks but become more powerful when you start killing his bodyguards. These are learned by interrogating other Orcs during combat so there is a reason not to just murder everybody you encounter. You also have the possibility of branding Orcs later on and converting a portion of Sauron’s forces to your side which allows you to weaken him further.

With all those underlings, Talion will be kept quite busy trying to kill them without being killed himself.

 

Combat in Shadow of Mordor is really quite fluid (sample below).All the moves have a certain type of grace to them which echos the combat in the films. There’s a lot of slashing and countering but it all flows into quite a pretty dance, if you can call chopping off limbs and heads a dance. You also get the satisfaction of viewing some of those kills as slow-time events which are just as glorious. You have the option to do things quietly as well through the use of  Celebrimbor’s ghost bow and using the remains of Talion’s son’s sword as a dagger so situations can be approached many ways. The environment can also be used to your advantage whether it be throwing you enemies into fires, dropping insects on them, or simply dominating a Caragor and riding it into battle. Enough to keep your fights interesting, and always hungering for more. The game also comes with a variety of downloadable content (DLC) ranging from new stories such as one where you play solely as Celebrimbor when he was alive to skin packs for Talion or new in game tasks to complete so you are provided with enough to do.

All in all a great game to play and its open world environment and dynamic enemies keep me coming back every so often, just so I hack up another of those captains in a creative fashion. Though most of the time I experiment with how long I can survive while going on a murderous rampage as half of Mordor chases me down, all calling for a drop of my ghostly blood. So if you’ve been looking for another open world story game to throw yourself into whilst satiating your desire for indiscriminate killing, take a walk in to Shadow of Mordor.

9/10

Purchasable from: Any retailer, Xbox Live Store, PlayStation Store, Steam

Price: $50 / £30

Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3

PC System Specifications:

MINIMUM:

    • OS: 64-bit: Vista SP2, Win 7 SP1, Win 8.1
    • Processor: Intel Core i5-750, 2.67 GHz | AMD Phenom II X4 965, 3.4 GHz
    • Memory: 3 GB RAM
    • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 | AMD Radeon HD 5850
    • DirectX: Version 11
    • Network: Broadband Internet connection
    • Hard Drive: 25 GB available space

RECOMMENDED:

    • OS: 64-bit: Win 7 SP1, Win 8.1
    • Processor: Intel Core i7-3770, 3.4 GHz | AMD FX-8350, 4.0 GHz
    • Memory: 8 GB RAM
    • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 | AMD Radeon HD 7950
    • DirectX: Version 11
    • Network: Broadband Internet connection
    • Hard Drive: 40 GB available space
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