After hearing a lot of good things about Shadow of Mordor, I decided to add it on the rental list. It’s probably worth mentioning at this point, although I’ve watched the all of the Lord of the Ring and Hobbit films once, I don’t know much more about the universe, so a lot of the story, characters and references were probably lost on me. This being said, it was still an enjoyable experience.
It’s tough to explain the game without spoilers, as even some of the mechanics themselves could be deemed as spoilers.
You play as a Ranger named Talion during the times between the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings movies/books. The game is an open world game, with twenty main story quests and a load of side quests and numerous collectables.
Navigating around the map feels a lot like the Assassins Creed franchise, with the ability to scales large walls, leap between buildings and even jump from height without taking damage, similar to the Leap of Faith in Assassins Creed, but without the limitation of straw to break your fall.
The combat also felt familiar, it was very similar to the free flow combat system used in the more recent Batman games. Basically press X to attack, get your combo multiplier up, and then unleash a finishing move. As you progress through the game, you get additional enemies which will start to block you with shields, so you’ll need to jump over their heads to attack them from behind. Again similar the the Batman games, you’ll also get enemies that will block every blow, meaning you have to stun them to get a shot in.
I guess what really sets this game apart is the nemesis system. If you are killed by an enemy, there’s a good chance he’s going to get promoted and gain power. What this means is, he tends to be a little bit harder than the previous encounter and he’ll also remember that he killed you and will taunt you with it. Same applies if you run away, or if he escaped. What’s interesting is, within groups of enemies, you will tend to find at least one enemy with highlight above his head letting you know that he’s got information on one of the Captains, meaning you need to kill him last so you can interrogate him without being mobbed. This information can be vital to taking down an Captain or even a War chief.
As you progress through the game, you will get the ability to dominate a enemies, meaning that when the time comes, they will fight on your side. This makes the whole chain of command interesting to watch, as if you do it right, it will make the final battle an absolute breeze. I found myself using this system quite a lot and would find myself walking into strongholds, taking over control of all the archers and then hitting the switch and watching all the ground troops get taken out.
Although the game used a lot of familiar mechanics, I found myself dying a lot in the early part of the game. Each of the captains would normally be protected by a group of orcs, and I don’t know if I was just unlucky, but they all seemed to travel in pairs. This in the early part of the game was a real pain, as taking out one captain and his crew was hard enough, but two would normally result in death. Based on my experience, I would suggest powering through at least half of the story missions to unlock some of the abilities, then work on the captains, then get back to the story.
All in all, this was an enjoyable game, I guess somebody more up on the Lord of the Rings universe would get a lot more out of it, but I enjoyed what I played, even though it was brutally hard for the first part of the game.
Approx Time taken to beat – 24 hours
Difficulty setting – Normal
Score – [Rating:4/5]
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