Shadow Of Mordor Review – MOUSE n JOYPAD

Shadow Of Mordor Review


Let me begin this review with the following: I do not care about the Lord of the Rings saga. I haven’t watched the films or played any of the games previously. Therefore I don’t care about how this game will affect the lore of the series, whether they’ve added characters or whatever. It’s a game. It’s there to be fun. That being said, Shadow Of Mordor is pretty good.

You start off in some swirly dimension, having flashbacks to when you and your son were sparring (which acts as the combat tutorial). You then have a moment with your wife (which was strange since sneaking up on her to “give her a present” is the same motion you’ll be using later to “stab the Orc in his everything”). It’s then revealed that you and your family have been part of a blood sacrifice, and you’ve been bonded with an unknown Wraith. You then set out, determined to find who caused all this and how to be separated and join your family in the afterlife.

Let’s address the two elephants in the room- Is this just an Arkham and Assassin’s Creed rip-off, with a Lord of the Rings skin? And I can answer with a resounding no. This is much more than a cheap paint job on two cars chop-shopped together. For one, this is harder than any game in either series combined. The combat “from Arkham” games is more difficult here than it was there. Orcs will take multiple hits before falling, and unless you use a finisher, they’ll fall to the floor in a daze, before getting back up to renew their attacks. After enough rebuffs, they’ll stay down. Plus, I’ve never seen Batman clothes-line someone and decapitate them in midair. You can also stealth kill Orcs if you approach from behind quietly, though if they do see you, they’re always slow to react. You can be about 10 metres in front of them, hide, and they’ll forget they ever saw you. You also have a bow that allows you to slow down time to line up those crucial charged headshots.

Now for the other elephant. The Assassin’s Creed parkour has been greatly toned down in this game. The only time you’ll even remember they have the same mechanics are in strongholds, where there are a lot of tightly knitted towers and wooden structures to climb and jump across. Like in the more recent games, you only hold down one button to go into “free-running” mode, which also acts as the sprint. One thing I did like is how small objects are automatically vaulted over. After buying an upgrade, you can press a button after landing and make him run at incredible speeds.

The biggest selling point for Shadow Of Mordor is the brand new “Nemesis” system. Basically, any Orc (or “Uruk”) that manages to kill you will become a Captain. Captains have established identities, personalities, strengths and weaknesses. They’ll remember your last encounter, what you did to them, how you damaged them if you tried running etc. This makes no two player’s experiences the same, since each Orc and captain are randomly generated. If you burn a Captain, but they escape, they’ll have a burn scar on them, and they’ll comment on said scar. It really is quite intricate and impressive. Killing Captains will reward you with runes, powerful modifiers for you sword, dagger and bow. However, you also need Intel. Intel is information on the Captains of Sauron’s army. Once you have Intel, you can use it to exploit their weaknesses and be weary of their strengths. War Chiefs are even more interesting. Intel can be gained on Captains through any Orc you come across. War Chiefs can only be identified by Captains, so it’s important to keep them alive long enough to interrogate them. Once you know where they are, a lot of War Chiefs need a pre-requisite before they’ll show their faces. Some need a particular Orc to be killed in a certain way, others need Orcs to be fighting each other, that sort of thing. Once they do come out, all you hear is a guttural chant of their name, as they swagger into the stronghold, searching for you. Later on in the game, you can “brand” Orcs, making them your allies. This opens up opportunities to create power struggles between captains, since you can send one to go and kill another. It’s a shame that it only becomes available very late in the game.

The audio in Shadow Of Mordor is incredibly well done. All Orcs have voices. You can listen in on conversations, talking about human slavery (nearly 99% of the humans in this game are slaves) and other unpleasant topics. Captains have monologues with the player, often causing all the action to stop temporarily for their chance in the spotlight. The voice acting of the main cast (and even side characters) are convincing, with very good lip synching. The Wraith’s intimidating phrases when dominating an Orc never fail to impress me, since he has a wide variety of bone-chilling commands. The soundtrack is pretty epic, offering grand choral scores and quick tense tones, making battles feel more impressive than they already are.

One thing I have to complain about is the difficulty. Sometimes the game will provide a Captain that’ll absolutely wreck you, and other times one headshot is enough to bring them down. Plus nearly all enemies can be countered or stunned, unless you have to do it from behind (why are all game characters vulnerable from behind? Are all their vital organs in their spines?). Some Captains are so unfair, they can’t be jumped over or stunned from the front, so you have to either stealth kill them beforehand or find a way to manoeuvre around him.

As a final thought, Shadow of Mordor is an amazing game. You will make rivalries with Orcs that manage to kill you. The soundtrack is awesome, the graphics are awesome, and once you’re finished with the storyline, you can go and kill or dominate all the remaining captains, which is awesome! When I first saw the trailer for this, I was with a lot of people, outraged at such a blatant rip-off from two great games. Now that I’ve played it, I can whole-heartedlysay Shadow Of Mordor is a game you simply must experience for yourself.