What happens when you combine the already-awesome Lord of the Rings (LOTR) franchise, a fluid combat system (from Batman Arkham series), a fantastic stealth system (probably even better than Assassin’s Creed) while killing Uruks in an open world (like Grand Theft Auto) and plenty more? You essentially get LOTR: Shadows of Mordor (SoM).
The storyline, as always, is great. You play Talion, an undead revived by a Wraith after his bloody death by the hands of the Black Hand (see what I did there), and you are set between the timelines of ‘The Hobbit’ and the LOTR trilogy (because seriously, they’re running out of timelines already). Admittedly, my LOTR lore isn’t that good, but the game doesn’t handicap you for that. They still thoroughly explain each and every character (like Saruman being the ‘Great White Wizard’ and Sauron being the ‘big bad guy’). There’s even the star appearance of arguably the most famous character of the show: Gollum, who appears in the early quests.
I still think he’s one of the strangest and scariest character I’ve even come across.
Expect to play in an open world gameplay, where you play in 2 maps: Mordor and the Sea of Núrn. You can run around completing side quests to level up and gain skills, or just stick to the main missions.
Combat is one of the best I’ve played, comparable to Batman Arkham series and Sleeping dogs. The moves are very similar to Batman’s with left click to hit and right to counter and then finishing then when they’re on the ground. Hitting consecutively leads to Hit Streaks where you can end off with a Combat Finisher. However, if you’re a stealth enthusiast like me, you can sneak around and kill Uruks instead.
The satisfaction of killing 20+ Uruks is truly indescribable
Ok, bored of these stuff so far? We’ll get to the fun bits now.
This is probably the coolest mechanic I’ve seen to date. SoM keeps track of the leaders in the area. Called Captains (think Sergeants) and Warchiefs (think Officers), like the hierarchy system you can see from above. You can take them down and each and every one of them and they’ll keep track of it. Then it gets more interesting.
The Uruks get promoted by killing each other. If an Uruk kills a Warchief, he gets to be a warchief, simple as that. This gives you a lot of opportunities to invade into these scuffles and kill both of them. This all plays out in the early mission, where you have to help a slave Uruk rise up the ranks by the way everyone knows best: killing all the leaders in sight.
Furthermore, the sound and music before an encounter is pure awesomeness. Before you face a warchief, they chant the name of the warchief before you engage him. Subsequently, before your first strike, you’ll enter a cutscene where they’ll taunt you. The flavour of the game is real.
I couldn’t think of a better title. Basically, every time you kill or get killed, the hierarchy system updates. The one who killed you probably got a promotion, while those you slay shows that they have been killed. If there is an event that shows that one Uruk has slain another (like the scuffles mentioned above) they update as well. The first mission makes you kill all the Warchiefs anyway, so this takes a long time. However, soon enough it becomes insanely addicted to kill the captains and warchiefs. Some fights are memorable, and others aren’t so, because it can be really easy to kill them, especially in the later stages when you leveled up and unlocked new abilities.
After the first area, you can transported to the second area where you are instructed to build an army to go against the Black Hand. You then realize with the power of the Wraith you can mind control Uruks to build an army. You then end up mind-controlling warchiefs and captains who end up fighting for you. Needless to say, I ended up mindcontrolling all of them in this map and the previous map. You can also do combat mind-control, and have them fighting for you in the thick of the battle
The missions are too short, and the boss fight was seriously anti-climatic. You can probably finish off the main missions in a good 12 hours.
But trust me when I say that you WILL end up attempting to conquer the hierarchy system, because it’s just too darn addictive.
Over-powered enough to make it fun, yet not so imbalanced, which makes you still fear death. Missions are short, but the hierarchy system is too fun to pass on. Combat and stealth system is a huge plus as well. Overall, I had huge fun in this game. This game is probably a strong contender for the best game I’ve ever played.