2014 so far has been a mixed bag for new IPs. Watch_Dogs, Titanfall and even Bungie’s Destiny (while strangely addicting) have failed to live up to the promise that many gamers had hoped for. While all of these games have been successful to some degree or other it’s rather strange that the most next-gen experience I’ve had yet has been with a game that many had little to no excitement for.
The old adage of licensed games equal crap has been something that has been ingrained in many gamers minds. More often then not we get something that resembles the gaming hell of Superman 64 versus a stunning generational changing title like Batman: Arkham Asylum. I’ll be honest, I was going to pick up Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor whether it was crap or not. I’ve survived the glitched to hell of War in the North and the absolutely boring The Hobbit on the original Xbox. My love of Tolkien and elves knows few bounds. I at least had the hopes that a developer with the chops like Monolith (known for the amazing FEAR series and the often forgotten NOLF series) would do well by the property. Boy, have they ever!
I could wax on about the visuals, the fantastic animation, or even how the music makes me want to rise out of my chair and slay a cave troll with my bare hands, but I won’t. Instead, the true star of Shadow of Mordor is the lovely Nemesis system. Instead of your usual open-world game where enemies have be taken out in a particular order; Shadow of Mordor gives every grunt and lazy eyed Uruk a chance to become your own personal worst enemy. If he just happens to take out the mighty Talion (you) he’ll gain rank, power and influence but more importantly he’ll remember how he kicked your ass and mock you for it. Shadow of Mordor brings together the fierce combat system of the above mentioned Batman Arkham series, the open world parkour freedom of Assassin’s Creed and wraps in all in a story that fans of Lord of the Rings will get a kick of. Sure, Monolith has taken some liberties but they’ve also managed to respect the spirit of Tolkien’s universe.
Warner Bros has another hit on their hands and a series which could be the next Batman Arkham -only with elves and orcs that personally want to kick your ass.