Middle-earth Shadow Of Mordor Review – One Game to Rule Them All?
The Lord Of The Rings series has been plagued by terrible games with a few diamonds in the rough. Is Middle-earth Shadow Of Mordor a journey worth taking, or should this tale remain untold? Check out this honest game review and make your choice.
Middle-earth Shadow Of Mordor Review
You play as Talion, a ranger of Gondor who was stationed at The Black Gate. Less than 10 minutes into the game, the minions of Sauron come and kill Talion’s family and Talion himself. Right before Talion bites the dust he is invaded by a wraith that offers him a chance at revenge. While you eventually find out who the wraith is, you start off only knowing that he is an elf. This lets you use both ranger and wraith abilities to defeat your enemies. The whole story has you fighting directly to the Black Hand who claimed your wife and child.
The movement reminds me a lot of Assassin’s Creed and the combat feels like Batman: Arkham Asylum. Talion has three ways to attack, his sword, his bow and his dagger. The sword is basic melee attacks, counters and executions. The bow is actually a wraith ability and when you use it you focus for a few seconds slowing down time so you can aim your shots better. The dagger is the sneak attack weapon that also lets you brutalize your targets, striking fear to other surviving enemies. All of these can be upgraded with new abilities and runes.
The wraith also gives you an attack that stuns most enemies when you hit them. Once they are stunned you unleash a lethal combination that results in the enemies head exploding. This is really cool but every Orc and their mothers in the area will try to prevent you from finishing the combo. There are other wraith abilities that you will be using that I won’t spoil here, but know that he plays a pivotal role in combat.
The Nemesis system is a new concept that really shines in this game. Basically the leaders of Sauron’s army are listed in a section of the menu. They all have various strengths and weaknesses and some have bodyguards. The idea is to weaken the army by killing these units. Start at the bottom and work your way up to the war-chiefs. Killing them nets you runes for your weapons along with EXP and weapon EXP. Where things get tricky is when you die.
When you die the unit that kills you gets stronger and earns more buffs and skills. Not only does that happen but new units join the army and certain ones rank up and also gain more strength. The unit that kills you will remember you and remind you that he killed you before and if he kills you again he gets stronger. I had a unit terrorizing me for about three hours until I was finally strong enough to force him to retreat. The more you die the stronger the enemy army becomes. On a side note any unit you force to retreat that actually escapes will come back with battle scars which is pretty awesome.
Unfortunately, while the main content in the game is fun and rewards the player, the side content ultimately falls short. Hunting and gathering side quests are few and far between and ultimately fall short of any wow factor. The lore and artifacts will impress the die hard Lord Of The Rings fans but doesn’t leave much for the casual player. The weapon upgrade challenges shouldn’t even really be called weapon upgrades because they don’t buff your weapons. The side content does add to the game play length but falls way short of what the rest of the game brings to the table.
There is no difficulty level and once you make it past the first few hours the game becomes a little to easy. Every Orc has a weakness and once you find out how exploit them it’s just not much of a challenge. For instance, once you know that fires explode without damaging you, you will wait near a fire and let the Orcs come to you and blow them all up without taking any damage. Another example is focus head shots. I cannot tell you how many shield units I have avoided fighting by just using a head shot on them. It doesn’t seem like a big deal but trust me, when you play you will understand.
The two things stated above do not change the fact that Shadow Of Mordor is amazing game that should be played by any action game fan. While it certainly needs a few tweaks to be a perfect game it has a legitimate shot at game of the year. The journey is well worth taking and you will not regret playing Middle-earth Shadow Of Mordor.