“Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor” Game Review

Before I start this year, I have to review at least one last game from last year. This open world action-adventure video game was published on September 30th, 2014, becoming somewhat of a surprise hit. There are two DLCs are out currently: Lords of the Hunt and The Bright Lord. I haven’t played either of them yet, so I don’t know if their worth it. But this game totally is. Taking place between the events of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, you play as Talion, a Ranger, whose family is killed by the Black Hand of Sauron. Though he doesn’t actually die. He is bonded with a Wraith named Celebrimbor who was responsible for the making of the Rings of Power. They decide that in order to break the curse, they must kill the Black Hand of Sauron. The gameplay seems like a beautiful melange of the combat and investigation mechanics from Batman: Arkham and the parkour and exploration from Assassin’s Creed. But what truly makes Shadow of Mordor unique is the Nemesis System. This is where you keep track of the 20 most feared Orc captains and their 5 warchiefs, whom you can kill and even manipulate in side missions. Despite being a desolate rain-covered wasteland, Mordor is quite beautiful. The environments are surprisingly varied and are joy to look at. You get to learn more about these landscapes in a rich appendix, which expads the lore without fixing it. There are also some pretty fun side missions. These include getting new upgrades for your weapons and save some enslaved humans from custody. Though after a while you’ll just stop bothering. The missions I was most obsessed with were the ones involving the Nemesis System, were I could dwindle the armies of Mordor. This brings me to my first big negative. It’s the protagonist, Talion. He’s just not very interesting. His abilities are cool, but his back-story is kind of generic. Other characters, though, fair much better. Including a cameo appearance from Gollum, who sadly was not reprised by Andy Serkis. Also, I noticed that the story is relatively short, lasting me about 30 to 35 missions total. That’s likely because the final boss battle was, though not terrible, very anti-climactic. Now I spent over 40 hours in the Land of Mordor, and could’ve probably spent 50 in my first playthrough. And I eager to see the difference with the Nemesis System on my second. This is one of my favorite games of the next generation, and one that I and many fans will defend to death.

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