SHADOW OF MORDOR
Though I tend to avoid RPG games of Hit Points, Defence Levels, Attack Statistics and all the rest of the convoluted components of the genre – for SHADOW OF MORDOR I had to make an exception. An open-world LOTR game? Hell yes. Though SHADOW OF MORDOR does not identify itself as apart of the LOTR umbrella, the game’s non-canon elements were interesting though admittedly sometimes odd.
The game begins with the character Talion, a ranger who is stationed at the Black Gate of Mordor. After an attack by high ranking guards in service to Sauron, his family and himself are sacrificed to bring forth a wraith version of the Elf Lord Celebrimbor. At his death, Talion merges with Celebrimbor and they both set off on a journey of discovery and to exact their revenge.
Mordor is realised in a rich, if not limited, capacity. The look and beauty of the game cannot be denied, Monolith Productions have strongly captured the aesthetic of The Hobbit and LOTR film trilogies which gives the game an authenticity and makes a worthy addition to games set in Middle Earth. Where the game really shines is in the individuality of the Orc hierarchy, each individually named with often amusing names, a completely unique appearance and particular demeanour. The most challenging and enjoyable aspect of the game involves the Orc hierarchy, especially when one acquires the possession power which can control particular Orcs. I enjoyed being able to infiltrate and tell my puppets to become bodyguards of the high ranking Warchiefs, so they could turn on their captain and thus one could dominate the ranks. From Lûga Runny-Bowels, to Ratbag, the Orc names are highly amusing and makes the hunt and discovery of ranking Orcs that more appealing.
Gameplay on the PS4 is very impressive indeed, but I will reiterate many observations that it is very similar to Assassin’s Creed, though it seemed to have also inherited that horrible problem of climbing down! Oh what fun it is to scale walls, shacks and other buildings, but the moment you want to get down Talion often decides to go all over the place – even going back up! Men are such fools… me included as I found out near completion of the game that holding ‘O’ will prevent the need of descending every single level – though still the controls can be frustrating.
One irritating aspect of the game involved many of the Warchiefs running away before I was able to dominate them. This was no mere running away however. When one particularly annoying Orc shit called ‘Hoshgrish the Painted’ ran away the 13th time I almost burst an artery. Not only was he three times faster than me at running, impervious to ranged attacks and ran entire distances of the map, the bastard kept running into Orc-dense areas which unfortunately usually resulted in upwards of 50 Orcs raping me with arrows, spears and shields.
I found myself rolling my eyes when Gollum cropped up, telling my brother beside me “Why the hell is Gollum in this? He hates Mordor”. Before Tolkien purists berate me with corrections, later I realised that this was before he has been caught and tortured in “The Fellowship of the Ring”. My point is still valid though, though how else would the creators ground a non-canon story besides using a fan favourite? They could include Saraman. Oh wait they did! Vomit.
I recommend this game to any who wish to pick apart connections to LOTR, as well as enjoy a well designed and engaging experience. Be prepared to button bash during combat though. One does not simply walk into Mordor… unless your name is Talion.