Shadow of Mordor is a brand new IP developed by Monolith and published by Warner Brothers Interactive.
Released on the 30th of September on the newest generation of console and PC (With a November 18th release for 360 and PS3) Shadow of Mordor places you between the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings in the role of Talion. Talion is a Gondorian ranger who was stationed on the Black Gate defending Gondor from the evil in Mordor, right up to the point where he and everyone on the gate is brutally murdered, that is. Now generally speaking, that should be where Talion’s story ends, but instead he finds himself banished from death in the company of a wraith, who imbues him with wraithlike abilities and he sets off on a quest to avenge his family and find a way to break the curse upon him.
This game has been compared heavily to Ubisoft’s Assassins Creed series and while that influence can be felt in the climbing and stealth system, the combat is more akin to Rocksteady Studio’s Batman Arkham series of games. Neither of these two influences are by any means bad however as they blend together to create an immensely fun and diverse experience.
The two words ‘diverse’ and ‘fun’ sum up Shadow of Mordor quite well, but a third word is needed to really encompass the game and that is ‘beautiful’. There are a variety of locations that you can explore from crude Uruk camps and ruined strongholds bolstered with rudimentary iron reinforcements, to towns swarming with Orcs and Uruk-Hai. Despite this, all the locations in Shadow of Mordor have one thing in common – the certain knowledge that you are never safe.
The world you exist in in Shadow of Mordor is constantly changing mainly thanks to one of the best features the game has, The Nemesis System. Every captain and war chief you encounter in the game will remember you and any actions you have taken against them. For example if you wound but don’t quite manage to kill one of them then the next time you meet he will be scarred and more than a little angry he may even have gotten stronger. All the captains and war chiefs will occasionally fight each other for dominance to become the strongest, meaning that the enemies you are fighting will change frequently forcing you to do the same, giving the game a varied feel to it.
The key thing that gives this game its fun and stops it from feeling repetitive is the number of ways you can do things like walking into a Citadel sword drawn and slaughtering everything in sight, or using an ability called shadow strike which allows you to teleport to an enemy to get right in their midst, and then shoot off wraith combos and fire arrows like a spiky tornado. Of course there is always the stealthy option of sneaking in like Santa, never seen or heard that is if Santa delivered a good silent knifing between the ribs as opposed to toys, and then there is my personal favourite, which is to stand outside the citadel and let loose all the carragors the Orcs keep in cages and watch them eat anything that moves.
Overall, Shadow of Mordor delivers a compelling and very interactive experience full of choice and free roam. While (like any game) it has its problems with glitches, some mildly annoying fetch quests and you hear the enemies say the same thing a lot while you’re sneaking around (though this annoyance in somewhat soothed when you kill them all in a gratifying fashion of your choice), but despite all this whether you want to play the game as a silent killer or the walking equivalent of a nuke you will have a fun and challenging fight on your hands.