REVIEW: Shadow of Mordor (GOTY Edition) Or, “How I learned to stop worrying, and attack everything that moves…”

Skulking around the dark, depressing landscapes of what is essentially a bastardized derivative of Peter Jackson’s Lord of The Rings, I literally have no fear.

Sure, I’m running like a hunkered maniac and avoiding enemy patrols like a fucking champion, but that’s just how it’s done. This is a sneak-em-stab-em-collect-a-thon, after all. The sort of knife in the dark/arrow in the eye gameplay any Assassin’s Creed fan will feel immediately comfortable with. Running along ledges? Check. Launching yourself at enemies from a great height? Uh-huh. Utilising distractions to buy you time and generally act like a right nuisance? Damn straight. The sandbox is myriad, but that’s less the cause of my cocksure lethality than a welcome side-effect. Perhaps it’s the fact that your character, Talion, is aided by a magical super-elf that essentially makes you immortal? Or possesses a range of powers that sees you grow from a squishy, supernatural ranger into a wraith-infused demi-god? Acquire enough abilities and you’re not just controlling the battlefield – you’re breaking the game. On purpose.

Or in my case, terrorising hoards of Uruk-hai for fun and profit.

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Shadow of Mordor was originally released back in 2014 for PS4 and Xbox One. It was very well received, despite a fairly tenuous connection to the licence and one of the least challenging final boss fights in living memory. Given I clocked it on Xbox One, and having since moved across to team Sony, I picked up the Game Of The Year edition for another run through before the inevitable sequel lands in October.

Why? Because it’s phenomenal. Also, the voice acting is excellent, its Nemesis system allows for procedurally generated Captains and Warchiefs, I never got to play any of the DLC after release and… I like the sound the PSN Trophies make when they “blip” in the top, left-hand corner of the screen. It makes me happy. Xbox Achievements sound almost tinny in comparison…

But I digress.

Mordor is just one of those games you watch someone playing and immediately recall that sweet, gameplay loop. The ease with which you can block and riposte virtually anyone. All the time. Like a puzzle. That very Arkham Asylum style brawling that rewards precision. The manner in which you’ll almost certainly fail certain sword/bow/dagger “Legends” by virtue of the experimentation required to succeed. It’s a fun time, and only bolstered by a cast of orcs that range from moustache-twirling villainy through to flat-out repulsive. Seeing the various “Heroes” of the Uruk-hai army calling out trash talk across the field never failed to generate a smile, even as a half a dozen other Captains converged on my location. You can even pit their leaders against one another, or form your own “alliances” and bring down armies through manipulation alone.

Such as Schreckstoff, who pretty much broke the Nemesis system:

Another reason to step back into Talion’s fluffy, blood-encrusted boots? The Nemesis Forge – a new mechanic that allows you to take a particularly impressive Orc and fashion them into some sort of pet/buddy in Shadow of War. I haven’t touched this. Maybe later. I’m sure it’s cool and all, but that’s time I would much prefer spent clashing swords in a balletic display not unlike Neo inside a medieval Matrix. Or collecting pointless crap to sustain my trophy addiction. Or, you know… enjoying the story? It’s not bad, if a little loose with “canon”.

Speaking of which, is this canon? As in, PJ’s LOTR canon, if that is such a thing? Given how far the film “universe” has deviated from the source material, I don’t honestly mind. Die hard “Rings” fans might take offense… but who are you? Carrying around your well-thumbed copies of the Silmarillion and claiming it was all so much better before Jackson came along. Go home. This game is the tits.

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In Summary, if you haven’t purchased Shadow of Mordor, I’m not really trying to convince you to do so. My chemical happiness is no doubt different from your own, and I simply wanted to talk about it. At great length. Honestly, if you’ve read this far this has less to do with me and more to do with you. Maybe you NEED this game in your life. Maybe, by some weird coincidence, this was the first Google search item you clicked.

I don’t give ratings, and the game can be purchased here:

https://www.playstation.com/en-au/games/middle-earth-shadow-of-mordor-ps4/

D