How does the latest Lord of the Rings universe game stack up?
Players assume the role of Talion, a Ranger of Gondor who is killed at the start of the game, but comes back to life after a mysterious event binds him together with an ancient Elf Wraith.
Together, Talion and the Wraith will wander through Mordor, kicking Orc and Uruk butt as they seek to make sense of their predicament and bring vengeance to the ones responsible for it.
What differentiates Shadow of Mordor from your run-of-the-mill action-adventure game is the inclusion of a Nemesis system.
Briefly, the Nemesis system allows enemies to create unique encounters with Talion, and develop and build a “relationship” with him, as long as they are not killed.
For example, an orc that kills Talion can get promoted up the orcish hierarchy, and will remember defeating Talion and remind him of it when they meet again in battle.
Review wise, Monolith game has received pretty high scores from most critics — Metacritic shows a 85/100 rating — and almost all of them note the similarities between Shadow of Mordor and two critically acclaimed action-adventure series, Batman: Arkham and Assassin’s Creed.
GameSpot gives Shadow of Mordor an 8 out of 10, and remarks that while the game’s “structure” resembles Assassin’s Creed, “it is now imperative that the Assassin’s Creed series learn from Shadow of Mordor.”
“Easy comparisons aside, this is a great game in its own right, narratively disjointed but mechanically sound, made up of excellent parts pieced together in excellent ways,” Kevin VanOrd from GameSpot writes.
IGN’s Dan Stapleton juxtaposes Shadow of Mordor with the Batman: Arkham games in his review, remarking for instance that “sword combat feels pretty much just as good here as brawling does in Batman,” but concludes that the game “stands out from other open-world action games by putting a great new layer on top of the trail that Batman blazed.”
Giving a 9.3 out of 10 rating, Stapleton writes that he was “surprised at how well [Shadow of Mordor] integrates its excellent combat with rewarding feedback and progression not just for me, but also for my enemies.
“I’ve had many more memorable and unpredictable battles with its randomized Warchiefs and captains than I did in the scripted campaign missions, and I expect those to keep on coming,” he concluded.
While VanOrd and Stapleton are in praise of Shadow of Mordor’s Nemesis system that allows for all the “narratively disjointed” but “memorable and unpredictable battles,” Chris Carter at Destructoid was irked by that particular feature, calling it “gimmicky.”
“Basically, all of the Nemesis encounters are going to go like this: You walk up to a captain that generally can’t be killed by a stealth attack, engage in combat, and watch as a small cutscene plays where the enemy exclaims a generic phrase like “Sauron rules all!” Then 20 additional enemies appear, the player stuns the boss, combos him, and uses an execution attack while avoiding the newly spawned enemies. Repeat the process until he dies,” Carter complains.
Not surprisingly, Carter gave Shadow of Mordor a 6 out of 10.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor will be out for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on September 30 in North America and October 3 in Europe.
The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 editions will be out on November 18 in North America and November 21 in Europe.