Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is being collectively lauded as one of the more successful AAA games to hit the market this season. With expected hits such as Titanfall, Destiny, and Watch_Dogs falling flat in reviews, many found Shadows of Mordor a refreshing and long awaited addition to the next (I suppose it’s current by now) generation of consoles.
The reviews share much in common. They laud the masterful representation of the Tolkien style, as well as adherence to the lore. More importantly, Shadow of Mordor does well to carve its own story, following a tale of revenge interestingly dissimilar to the hope-driven stories of The Lord of the Rings.
The highly praised Nemesis feature makes Shadow of Mordor a staple. It’s a procedural enemy generator, in which enemy orcs will grow and react to the player’s choices, victories, and failures. For instance, one may strike an orc through the eye, and find the same enemy return with an eye patch and a thirst for vengeance. Even more interesting, player deaths will grant opposing orcs promotions in Sauron’s army, granting them additional skills and powers.
The expressive Tolkien themes and Nemesis system create a fluid, lively open-world game that explores the deep questions of revenge and slavery while being strategically and viscerally pleasing.
No game is perfect, I’d bargain to wager, and Shadow of Mordor is no exception. Funnily enough, it seems reviewers are torn between deeming the game’s core shticks as notably fun or cheaply annoying. The variety of orcs, the length of the narrative, and even the revenge-centered plot are all points of contention amongst players. Here we will take a look at a variety of praise and complaints aimed at the title, and hopefully you’ll come out of it ready to purchase, pass, or continue enjoying Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor.
Game Informer 8.25/10
Negatives: Campaign repetition, high combat difficulty, stale plot ending
Positives: Challenging and complex, great addition to the franchise, good use of lore, Nemesis system is “borderline revolutionary”
“In Shadow of Mordor, whether completing story missions or side missions, the focus is all killing all the time. By the end of the lengthy campaign, the battles don’t carry the same thrill. ”
“Even when doing everything right, moments of genuine frustration threaten to halt the fun.”
“The final hour of Monolith’s Middle-earth adventure falls flat, as the story falteringly tries to pull together a number of disparate threads, and the mostly triumphant nemesis system fails to stick the landing.”
“Shadow of Mordor is an unabashedly challenging and complex experience, sometimes at the expense of accessibility. I’m thrilled that we’ve got a new franchise in the fertile ground of Tolkien’s fiction. Add in a borderline revolutionary approach to mission design, and this is a firm foundation for a stellar new series”
Negatives: Orcs get repetitive
Positives: Orc slaying repetition saved by Tolkien-true details
“But, after a while, their mangled faces all begin to roll into one – an orc is an orc is an orc, after all. It doesn’t matter whether they’re named Pushkrimp Bone-Licker, Skog the Grinder or Kargoth of the Irritable Bowel – their motivation is always the same and they’re always replaced with newer and uglier usurpers faster as you can cut them down.”
“It’s in this attention to detail that Shadow of Mordor reveals itself to be concerned with more than just lopping heads off overconfident orcs. Its open world doesn’t always feel as big, busy or varied as you’d like it to – an understandable problem given that much of Mordor is a barren wasteland by definition – but you see Tolkien’s uniting influence running through everything.”
The Escapist 4.5/5
Negatives: Short narrative
Positives: Tolkien-true, orcs are interesting, difficulty is enjoyable
“Shadow of Mordor is the first game set in Middle-earth that explores new themes and executes mechanics that allow you to interact with Tolkien-esque characters in a truly emergent way.”
“It really can’t be understated how oddly endearing these little devils are. Lug the Drunk, for example, has a skin of orc grog on his person and delivers all his threats and challenges with a slur… At first the field of captains on display is blank, and you learn about the orc captains by interrogating orcs or discovering them in the open world.”
“Shadow of Mordor does an excellent job of rewarding smart play without browbeating you with pop-up reminders and ham-fisted mechanics. You quickly learn ignoring the intelligence you discover means death, which brings its own sort of joy/exquisite pain.”
“One the saddest things about the narrative presented in Shadow of Mordor is that it’s over pretty quick. The 20 main missions will not take you very long to mow through – I did it in about 10 hours.”