Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor
Developed by Monolith Productions
Published by Warner Bros. Interactive
*Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost*
This review is of the PS4 version of the game
Shadow of Mordor puts you in the role of Talion a Gondorian ranger captain who was stationed at the black gate, soon after the game begins however the gate is attacked by a horde of Uruks under the command of the Hammer of Sauron, The Tower of Sauron and The Black Hand of Sauron, who manage to decimate Talions garrison, ritually sacrificing Talion and his family, afterward Talion finds himself to be back in the world of the living, thanks to a wraith that has merged with him, thus preventing him from dieing and being with his family in death, Talion decides to exact revenge on the ones who murdered his family, while also trying to find out more about the wraith who refuses to grant him the death he desires
Shadow of Mordor is a action adventure game with an open world style with a focus on stealth gameplay, the best way to some up this game is if you took the Batman Arkham games and Assassins Creed games and threw them into a blender. firstly I’ll address the combat in the game which is exactly like the Arkham games, with Square being your attack move, Triangle being your counter, X being your dodging move and Circle being your stun attack, combat wise everything controls perfectly, if you need to counter a move Talion will do so, regardless of whether you are attacking another enemy or not, there is also a streak feature which will build up the more you attack enemies and avoid damage yourself, this streak comes in handy for using execution attacks which will instantly kill your attacker unless they have an immunity to this attack, you also have a bow which can really come in handy for getting long range kills and stealth kills, the bow can also eventually be used to teleport to an enemy stunning them or after upgrading the ability killing them. The stealth feature in the game is probably my favorite part of the whole experience, this is where the elements of Assassins Creed come into play, you can go into stealth mode using R2 and from there you can sneak up on enemies and perform a simple stealth kill, you can also perform a stealth kill from a ledge when you’re directly under an enemy and you can also use a Assassins creed style, death from above stealth kill. Shadow of Mordor also has a chain of command style system, which is pretty interesting, basically some Uruks can be significantly stronger than others, these Uruks are Captains, they can be plenty of different types, such as Archers, Hunters and Berserkers etc, they also have their own set of abilities and weaknesses which can range from Being scared of fire to becoming enraged at the site of a Caragor, this can be very annoying but most of the time it’s a great mechanic to have, it encourages you to plan out your attacks instead of charging in head first, sometimes however it can make an Uruk too strong, for example I encountered one captain that was immune to stun attacks, Melee Combos and Ranged Attacks, which meant the time it took me to defeat him was just too long. The bosses in the game also need to be addressed, they are some of the worst boss fights in a video game I’ve seen most of them are just too repetitive and simple, the first major boss is basically the same as fighting a Captain and had no special mechanic to beating him, even the final boss is just a simple stealth encounter that is no different from regular Uruks. There is also a upgrade system, that is pretty simple, again these are similar to the Arkham series, for example getting more Health and Focus and being able to use an execution move with only 5 attacks landed instead of 8, but this also leads into another problem I have with this game, some of the moves you acquire, you get way too late in the game, one of the main moves in the game which lets you take over Uruks and get them to fight on your side, you get about 4 missions from the end, but despite this overall the gameplay is fantastic.
The music in the game wasn’t really anything special, nothing really jumped out at me except maybe the Main theme of the game which is pretty good, I would’ve loved to hear some of the music from the Peter Jackson movies but unfortunately there is none which admittedly is understandable.Voice acting on the other hand is superb with Troy Baker once again leading the charge with Talion and Liam O Brien puts in a fantastic performance as Gollum, I could honestly not tell the difference between him and Andy Serkis, everyone else performs their jobs pretty well, honestly it’s a solid performance from everyone all around.
The graphics on the PS4 version of the game are quite good, the character models aren’t anything spectacular, instead all of the effort seems to have gone into the environments, the sheer amount of detail that has went into the environments, mainly Nurn, which is the bright and colorful land with plenty of trees and greenery is phenomenal but my favorite parts have to be when it is raining, just watching the water run down the walls and Talions cloak is absolutely stunning.
The Lasting Appeal
This game is an odd one to judge, on the one hand the games story itself can probably be beaten in about 4-6 hours, however if you rush through you’ll miss out on another 15-20 hours of content in side missions and upgrades, and not to mention trophies, all in all I took 25 hours to get all trophies and to finish everything, which I consider to be a decent time for a game like this, so to be honest if you’re buying this game just for the story, I’m not gonna promise that you’ll be satisfied, but I’d highly invest in all the other stuff that the game has to offer, and you should come out a happy customer.
Shadow of Mordor was one of those games I wasn’t too interested in at first but after seeing some more gameplay on it, I decided to give it a go and I was not disappointed in the slightest, with combat that was always interesting, along with a decent story, plus some great voice acting and content shoved in, the only real complaints I have would be that the soundtrack is pretty uninteresting and the story on it’s own is pretty short, regardless Shadow of Mordor remains one of my favorite games of the year so far, and a game I would highly recommend.
My Score – 9/10
- Well told Story
- Simple yet brilliant gameplay
- Fantastic Voice acting
- Very fun stealth mechanics
- Environments are Stunning
- Captains can be too strong
- Soundtrack is boring
- Story is pretty short
Middle Earth Shadow of Mordor is now available from all good retailers. Thanks go to Warner Bros for supplying the game and assets used in this review. Be sure to let us know your thoughts on this review in the comments section below and be sure to stay tuned to UGNN for all your gaming news and reviews and be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter & YouTube.
Review By Jonnie Dixon