Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (PS4) Review
Set between the events of The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring, you take control of Talion, a ranger of the Gondor garrison who, along with his family, are cut down by some of Sauron’s baddies before being rejected by death. You then find yourself bound to an amnesiac Elven Wraith and adventures abound. By adventures I mean lots of heads get chopped off.
Those fiercely bound to Tolkien’s lore will have a bit of an issue with the story as it not only diverts from the general feel of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth texts by focussing on what is essentially a revenge story, but also mucks about with the timeline by introducing Gollum, and also with the power of Celebrimbor and apparent immortality of Talion. That said, if you’re a common, garden variety fan and not an absolute purist, you’ll absolutely adore the amount of lore that Shadow of Mordor has on offer.
These sub-level bosses all have their own strengths and weaknesses which can become known to you by interrogating the right minion. At times this allows you to finish them in one swing of your blade or release of your bow, but at times can be extremely perilous. If you so happen to die at the hands of a captain, their own power level increases, making them an even more lethal opponent and initiating the very impressive ‘Nemesis’ system. This system sees your opponents challenging each other as they increase in power and as they do, their physical appearance and even armour will change as well. In fact, each of these foes will remember you and make comments such as “I won’t go down so easy this time” if you beat them previously or “why won’t you stay dead?” if they beat you. Going even one step further, enemies who were defeated by fire may exhibit burns, or one downed by an arrow to the face may wear a patch on your next encounter. This system is truly impressive and makes the your interactions with these Uruk captains feel unique and personal, giving weight to what feels like a constant threat.
This is the Lord of the Rings/Tolkien game that we’ve been waiting for. Sure, it takes a few liberties here and there but for the most part it feels as though this is a tale that may very well have been left out of the history books following the desertion of Gondor and the rise of Sauron. Encounters with known characters, albeit lesser known characters, is always a thrill as are mentions of previous events and hints of what’s to come. It may not be Tolkien canon, but Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor is a very well executed game with more than enough lore to keep Rings fans very happy. Now if you'll excuse me, I have Uruk to cleave.