We are back in Middle Earth again folks, with the release of Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor a fun fest of hacking, slashing and sneaking about, and for me one of the best games of the year.
I know there is plenty of reviews comparing this to Batman and Assassins Creed and they are right the game play is very similar, but in my opinion it’s a great combination and works really well, now apparently the reason why the fight mechanics are almost identical to the Batman series is that it was originally going to be a Batman game, the plug was pulled and the games developers salvaged the fight mechanics and used them in this (these rumours are uncorroborated but do make sense).
The game itself takes place between the Hobbit and Lord of the rings and you play as Tallion a ranger and guardian of the Black gate, unfortunately poor old Tallion has a major bad day and has his family slaughtered in front of him, and to top it all they kill him as well!
Fortunately for all concerned Tallion is revived by a wraith known as Celebrimbor who gives him special powers and aids him on his revenge mission(a sort of a wraith Marty Hopkirk)You can see where this is going and the story isn`t that ground breaking.
Gameplay is excellent and the massive open world looks good with plenty of detail and nice touches such as different weather and day and night sequences, and a great musical score that creates a great atmosphere.
Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor is basically a stealth game very similar to the afore mentioned Batman and Assassins creed, for most of the time you are tracking High and low ranking Uruks (powerful Orks)and this is where it gets interesting because in this game there is a thing called the Nemesis system, which means that if you kill an enemy you gain certain rewards but if he kills you he then gets promoted thus making him harder to kill next time and not only that he taunts you when you meet again. Any enemy can get promoted so beware; I have been stabbed in the back a few times by some low ranking Ork who then gets promoted to Captain thus making him another higher ranking foe to dispatch later on.
This makes Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor much more interesting, you have to be really crafty when tracking your target, gaining intel from downed enemies using your wraith powers, and using the menu to see their weaknesses before attacking. This element is brilliant and keeps the player on his toes as you have no idea what to expect next.
You can also terrorise your opponents by shooting (using your bow) down hornets nests or lumps of meat to attract Caragons (large dog like creatures) you can even free them from cages, also firing at open fires and Grog containers can cause massive explosions, I enjoyed luring a bunch of Uruks to a fire and then detonating it causing utter mayhem.
Combat as I have said is very similar to the Batman games and works really well with plenty of combos available gained from completing missions, your weapons and skills can be upgraded as you go with runes and ability upgrades.
Free running is much simpler and way better than Assassins creed it’s accurate and works well.
Of course Tallion has Wraith like abilities as well and by clicking the left button you go into wraith mode which is helpful for pinpointing targets and items like arrows and health.
To open up a new area you simply find a wraith tower climb it and forge it via the right button (similar to the towers in Assassins creed) and this will open up new challenges and missions of which there are plenty.
As you progress you will develop new skills like the ability to dominate caragons which is great fun and you can cause all kinds of carnage with one of those.
The open world setting works well perhaps not as big as other games but there is plenty to do and this isn`t a problem.
There is no multi player with this game and it doesn`t need it as there is plenty to do.
Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor for me personally is the best game this year everything about it works for me, with great combat and stealth and the nemesis system keeps the game from becoming repetitive, it’s much more in your face than most games and that’s a good thing and you just want to keep going back for more.
Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor
Developers: monolith Productions
Publishers: Warner Brothers Interactive
Genre: Action RPG
Release Date: 3rd October 2014