Do you like killing orcs? How about 10 orcs? A hundred? A thousand!? If you answered yes these questions, Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor is the game for you. Now it may seem like I’m making fun of the fact that the mass slaughter of thousands of orcs is a bad thing. But trust me, I’m not. I hadn’t found a game yet that could make my one thousandth kill as satisfying as my first. And believe me…that first kill is really, really satisfying.
Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor is Monilith Productions, creators of F.E.A.R. and Condemned, newest release and second dive into the Tolkien universe. (If you count Guardians of Middle Earth.) And Shadow of Mordor takes on the form of a free roam Action RPG, and borrows from games such as the Assassin’s Creed series and Arkham City, with similar combat mechanics to each of those games.
Combat is remarkably smooth throughout the game and scales well as the story progresses. But the crown jewel of the game is the Nemesis System which develops the various orc leaders you encounter throughout the game and gives each one unique motives, strengths and weaknesses. The captains and warchiefs you encounter will remember past interactions they have had with you and alter their actions based on those events.
For example, early on I encountered an orc captain by the name of Raznug the Foul. The orc was holed up in the center of a stronghold surrounded by other orc grunts and numbers that would have made a frontal assault nearly impossible with my low ability level. Feeling immensely clever with myself I freed a caged Caragor (i.e. worg) from the outskirts of the stronghold and baited it towards the captain. The caragor then proceeded to turn on the captain and maul him, unfortunately for me, however, I had attracted quite a bit of attention in my mad dash to the center of the stronghold and eventually became overwhelmed. So I retreated. The Caragor had finally been brought down by about a dozen orc grunts and Raznug had survived. Later on, I ran into my old pal Raznug again at a later time. His face was marked by claw marks and he appeared even uglier than before (if that was actually possible.)
Not only does the Nemesis System make the orc captains unique statisticly and thematicly, but the game also procedurally generates each one. It claims that you’ll never see the same captain twice as it creates each model with hundreds and hundreds of different combinations of features. I had already killed about 40 captains on my path through the story and had yet to see a repeat appear.
Overall, the game is incredible. I can’t say much about it that is negative. If I had to get picky my only real complaint would be that when not following the main quest lines, the open world aspect does have a bit of a problem with repetition. Mind you, these are the armies of Sauron so the massive numbers of enemies isn’t really a big surprise.
You can pick up the game for PC, XBox 360, XBox One, PS3 and PS4 today.