Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor

This game has taught me why Sauron is the Dark Lord. He sends forth the BSOD! :P

After the first 10 minutes which serve both as a tutorial and a quick story segment to let you know why a wraith possessed ranger of Gondor is sneaking about Mordor you quickly get into the guts of this Assassin's Creed like game, only this is better than almost all Assassin's Creed games I've played to date. You only get three weapons: a sword, a knife, and a bow that easily runs out of arrows but with just those and the unlockable skills you get you can interact with the open world in so many cool and violent ways. Oh yes - super violent ways which gives it a huge tick of approval from me. Not only do you dismember your foes but you can make heads EXPLODE.

This is one of the -tamer- finishers.

And you can make orcs flee in terror. Yup, an often missed behavior pattern in most AI these days (outside scripted events) the orcs actually can do a bit more than flee and die, especially as they climb up the ranks of Sauron's army to become war chief. These mostly randomized bad guys have names, behavior patterns, remember what you've done to them personally, have effects that make them stronger and immunities but also have weaknesses to be exploited. Each one different enough from the next to have an impact when you meet them. Maybe this one hates fire and the other one loves fire and is immune to everything but stealth. Obviously getting caught by them unawares in the open world is bad.

The protagonist is quite godly once you max everything out, but nowhere near the AC curb stomp heroes. Here just the sheer numbers of normal foes can take you down if you aren't careful. Death also has some meaning here as it passes time, which in turn begins refilling the ranks of orc captains you were probably busy emptying. Orcs that kill you and captains that survive the encounter gain in power, making them more dangerous the next time you meet!

Music wise it is ok but its the voice actors that really shine here. I found it clever that the loading scenes have story fragment voice overs which help piece together the past. The story is very cool too, especially for Tolkien fans. I was also impressed by having mountable critters and being able to fight while mounted. All of this makes for a really great game except for two things: a disappointing final fight and that the graphical requirements caused a LOT of restarts for me (PC Version), obviously impacting my overall experience with the product. I stuck with it to the end though, and can safely give this four elven arrows out of five.

Would have been perfect without all those crashes. For anyone else having NVidia issues what I did is put everything at the lowest setting and changed the Win 7 color scheme from Aero to Basic. This cut down the crashes by half.


  1. This game was such a surprise! I remember Conrad and me seeing a teaser at some point and thinking "what is this BS, what an Assassin's Creed rip off". And all of a sudden it gets loads of praise when released because they managed to get the gameplay engaging. Still have to try this one myself (or probably watch Conrad try, I'm not really into the kill-orcs business myself). :)

    1. I have to admit, those first few minutes really DOES feel like an Assassin's Creed rip off, a harder one at, but if you liked AC you will probably like this one. Just think the orcs are tusken raiders and you'll be fine. =P

    2. I played Assassin's Creed mostly for the surroundings and the story, the gameplay isn't nearly as engaging to me as MMOs are. Since Shadow of Mordor seems to resolve more about the gameplay, I expect I'll enjoy watching more than actually playing it.

    3. Fair enough Ravanel. Let me know what you think of it if/when you actually get it. :)