Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor – Review
Follow Genre: Action, Adventure
Developer: Monolith Productions, Inc.
Publisher: WB Games
Platforms: PC, PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360
Tested on: PC

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor – Review

Site Score
9.3
Good: looks and sounds great, very well optimized, loads of content
Bad: no difficulty option, some respawns are instant
User Score
10.0
(5 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (5 votes cast)

Whether you’ve seen the movies, read the books or haven’t done either of them, chances are that you’re familiar with The Lord of the Rings. It’s become so popular that a couple of games were made out of it. Lately, one of the most ambitious game projects revolving around The Lord of the Rings is Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor. Discover the origins of the Rings of Power, build your legend and confront the ultimate evil, Sauron!

Shadow of Mordor header

Story

Of course, the game is situated in The Lord of the Rings universe. It can be placed somewhere between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings saga where Mordor was not yet a wasteland. The game revolves around Talion, a ranger responsible for guarding the Black Gate of Mordor. Sauron’s armies have stormed the gate and killed you and your family but somehow you manage to resurrect and find out a wraith has merged his spirit with your body. The wraith does not remember who he is or why he is suddenly present in your body. You both set out to uncover the wraith’s identity and avenge the death of Talion’s family.

Shadow of Mordor

As you go on with your travels you encounter Gollum, which probably rings a bell because he appears in the movies. He has the ability to see and speak with the wraith inside your body. He really likes the wraith but hates Talion. Gollum will be vital in your quest to revive the wraith’s memory because he knows where you can find several objects from the wraith’s past, so you might want to hold off with killing him.

Further in the story, you join forces with an old ranger Hirgon, who has settled in Mordor trying to free any slaves the orcs might have. You also manage to team up with Ratbag the orc, one of the biggest cowards you’ll ever encounter. You then proceed to help Ratbag and your friend before finally being sought out by Lithariel, the daughter of Queen Marwen. Queen Marwen will further help the wraith on his mission, finally leading to the Black Hand of Sauron and ultimately Sauron himself.

Graphics

Shadow of Mordor has arguably the best graphics at current time. The game advises rather high specifications for the PC but can easily run on a lower tier system (I needed better ram and a better processor according to the recommended specs, but it still worked more than fine!) so you shouldn’t worry too much about these. On top of the already great PC graphics, you can download an additional (free) HD texture pack. Beware before downloading this one though, it does require rather high-end hardware in your system! The game is also extremely well optimized, so it doesn’t have any frame drops or lag spikes while playing. On top of that, the options menu features tons of graphic adjustments to the game, just as it should be.

Shadow of Mordor

Sound

Besides great graphics, Shadow of Mordor is accompanied by awesome sound. Each swing of a sword sounds lifelike and helps you immerse into the game like no other game in its genre would. The sound effects are top notch and really help immerse the player into the game. The music also has a very dark and aggressive feeling to it, perfect for slaying some orcs!

What really stood out sound wise is the exceptional voice acting. Every line of dialogue was brought with conviction and emotion, making the story and cutscenes much more interesting and special. From orcs being hurt in battle to battle cries from when their captain appears, there isn’t a single thing that can be remarked.

Shadow of Mordor

Gameplay

Last but not least, the gameplay! And boy, it does not disappoint at all! The gameplay is extremely well made and even after slaying thousands of orcs, it doesn’t feel repetitive at all.

The developers did a really good job of capturing the best elements of really good games and throwing them into Mordor. The two things that really stand out is that the combat feels a lot like the Arkham games and the movement, climbing and stealthing shares a lot of similarities to Assassins Creed.

The movement is pretty simple, and as said before, much like Assassins Creed. Holding the run button (space) will make you run, obviously, but it will also make you climb, jump and hop over small obstacles. Besides the normal view mode, you can also view the world through the wraith’s eyes. This view mode reveals enemies, friendly units and and other collectibles, secrets and items in the wraith world. You can also gain the ability to ride Caragors and Graugs later on in the game. These function as mounts and you can also attack while sitting on them. Dismounting them will keep them friendly to you and they will attack enemies by your side.

Shadow of Mordor

As for combat, Talion’s weapons of choice are a sword, bow and broken sword for stealth kills. You can attack with the sword by just clicking and counter attacks with right click, like the Arkham games. Instead of countering you can also press spacebar, which will dodge the attack instead of countering it. If you fail to dodge or counter, you’ll receive damage. The game uses a HP system so you can take a few hits, but take too much and you’ll be executed. If you’re fast enough, you can avoid execution and gain a second wind, but don’t rely on this tactic! You regenerate HP over time but you can also collect herbs to heal you. Hitting enemies without being hit builds up a hit counter, which at first doesn’t do a lot, but you can gain skills and abilities to use finisher, blinds, fire arrows and a couple more.

 

The bow can be used by holding right click to aim and then hold left click for precision aim and more powerful shots. Aiming with the bow drains focus, which slows down time. It also consumes elf-shots when fired, which can be replenished by picking up elf-shots inside the wraith world.

Stealth mode can be entered by holding shift, which will make you run slower but gives you the advantage of making close to no sound. At first you can only perform a simple stealth kill, but later in the game you can gain the ability to stealth mind-control or even brutalize your opponent, which might cause some orcs to flee away in terror.

Shadow of Mordor

The wraith that is inside your body also gives you some unique combat abilities. Grabbing an enemy (hold control) gives you a few options. You can simply shank and kill him, throw him away or you can use the wraith’s abilities on the orc. These abilities include draining (replenishes some elf-shots), entering his mind or later in the game you can even mind-control them to make them fight by your side.

One of the coolest features in the game is probably the nemesis system. As orcs fight and gain victories, they grow in power. The most powerful orcs are Warchiefs and have connections with the Black Hands of Sauron. They start out relatively weak, but as time progresses, they will duel other captains and lieutenants and finally try to take out the Warchief. By entering the minds of orcs (doesn’t matter which one) you can drain information from them in order to uncover some intelligence about warchiefs, captains, lieutenants or aspiring orcs. This will give you their position and might even expose their weaknesses. Later on, you can even mind-control the orcs in the nemesis system and create power struggles, riots or alliances with other orcs.

 

Defeating these orcs will award you power, experience, runes and Miriam (currency). Experience will level up Talion, allowing him to spend points in various talents which improve combat effectiveness. Power unlocks new tiers of abilities to spend your experience points in, runes allow you to enhance your weapons and Miriam can be used to purchase permanent upgrades like extra health, extra elf-shots, extra rune slots for your dagger, sword or bow etc. With the combination of experience points, runes and Miriam, you can create a deadly assassin, warrior, ranger or try to excel in all of them.

 

When you’re finally done playing the main missions (they took me about 10 hours), you can move onto the side missions and various world objectives! You can also access the challenge mode (first DLC) and rank yourself in the leaderboards! Any experience, power, upgrades and runes you’ve found can be used in the challenge mode and vice versa.

Conclusion

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor was a game worth looking out for. It lived up to the expectations and delivered so much more. It will engulf you into the lore and beauty of Mordor before it became a wasteland and will give you a lot of enjoyment. The whole game is simply a unique experience and gives so much satisfaction when brutally executing orcs and warchiefs. The game is almost all good but also has minor cons: there is no replay value (due to no difficulty slider) and sometimes orcs respawn instantly when killed from far away. All in all, this is a game you should play if you’re a fan of the genre!

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Rating: 10.0/10 (5 votes cast)
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Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor - Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 5 ratings

4 Comments

  1. […] If you don’t know what this game is about, we highly recommend you to check out our review! […]

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  2. […] you want to read up on Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, check out our review. The well-appraised action game, set in the lands of the Lords of the Rings, […]

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  3. […] you want to read up on Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, check out our review. And in case you missed the release trailer, here it is once […]

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  4. […] The storyline of this action RPG is set during the events of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings and is sequel to the original story of Shadow of Mordor. It will become available on 10 October 2017 for the following platforms: Xbox One X, Xbox One, Windows 10-PC (Windows Store and Steam), PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro. You can find our review of the original game here […]

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