By Cameron M. Bray ’16
“Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor”—Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment—for PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
9.5 out of 10.
To put it simply, “Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor” is a great game and you should definitely play it, “Lord of the Rings” fan or not.
In “Shadow of Mordor” you play Talion, a ranger captain of Gondor, stationed at the Black Gate (of Mordor) during the period between “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of Rings” saga.
In the brief opening cutscene, your garrison is attacked by Sauron’s Uruks, who are led by three Black Númenórean captains: The Hammer of Sauron, the Tower of Sauron and the Black Hand of Sauron.
You, your wife, Ioreth, and your son, Dirhael, are captured and sacrificed by the Black Hand in an attempt to summon a wraith, the Elf Lord Celebrimbor who forged the 16 rings of power.
However, the ritual backfires.
Instead of dying, you end up merging with Celebrimbor, who suffers amnesia on account of being a wraith, earning you new supernatural powers and abilities.
Thus you and Celebrimbor set out to discover his identity and avenge the death of your family, which brings me to my first point:
While the story is solidly written, it is really just a framing device for various quests around Mordor.
In fact, if you’re anything like me when I play an open-world game, then you will probably spend the majority of your time doing other quests in “Shadow of Mordor.”
And that’s the beauty of “Shadow of Mordor”: its wide variety of activities, ranging from flower picking and herb collecting to ambushing captains and assassinating war chiefs.
Speaking of assassination, one interesting thing you can do in “Shadow of Mordor” is mark and assassinate certain officers in Sauron’s army, each having various exploitable strengths and weaknesses, in order to earn different runes.
These runes can be used to enchant your sword, bow or dagger.
Honestly, you could spend hours running around the black land of Mordor searching for random loot.
I certainly did.
Another thing I like about “Shadow of Mordor” is its smooth and fluent combat system, which falls nicely into that niche of easy to learn but difficult to master.
Slicing and dicing Orcs and Uruks is infinitely cathartic, giving the game a long-lasting appeal.
Or if battle-royale brawling isn’t your thing, there is always stealth, where you can choose to sneakily pick off your enemies.
And like in the “Batman: Arkham” series, stealth and combat are balanced fairly well.
But the best part of “Shadow of Mordor” has to be its nemesis system, which remembers your interactions with certain enemies and adjusts the game accordingly.
For example, if you are killed by Uruk grunt, that grunt will be promoted in the ranks of Sauron’s army and will likely be seen again.
The nemesis system is the game’s most original mechanic, and it greatly enhances its entertainment value.
On the whole, “Middle of Earth: Shadow of Mordor” is a great game because of its wide-ranging activities, fluent gameplay and its unique nemesis system, and for that it gets a 9.5 out of 10.