I had absolutely zero excitement about Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor since it was announced. It looked generic, nothing seemed to be innovative, you get my drift. Warner Bros.’ preview presentation of the game made my mind do a complete 180, and now Shadow of Mordor is one of my most anticipated games for this fall.
Shadow of Mordor takes place over 2000 years after The Lord of the Rings. Sauron is attempting to return, and his ever-strengthening shadow infiltrated Gondor, killing all of the city’s rangers, including the main character Talion. Talion’s death also triggered the awakening of an ancient spirit which resurrected him and gave him Wraith abilities. Naturally this means Talion must take back Middle Earth from Sauron once more.
Welcome to a slightly different Middle-Earth.
Shadow of Mordor contains quite a bit of procedural generation, which has gotten quite popular as of late. What makes this game so unique with procedural generation is how it grossly affects the player’s missions. With the mission presentation we had, Talion was tasked with dominating orc chiefs and bending them to his will to form his own little orc army. Once the mission is set, one menu will show which orc chiefs are available for this quest. While playing the game, the player will learn all about each NPC, including strengths and weaknesses that the player should avoid and exploit. Instead of your typical weaknesses such as weak against fire, one of the orc chiefs from our presentation was afraid of betrayal. So to dominate him, Talion branded one of the orc chief’s bodyguards to Talion’s cause and bent his will to make him challenge the chief in front of everyone. Once that happened, the chief fled, giving Talion an opportunity to face him alone, wear him down in combat, and then brand him as well.
The presenters explained to us that with every demo, they have had a completely different game, because none of the orc chiefs were the same, so all strategy had to be different each time.
Talion has quite the arsenal with his Wraith powers as well. He can briefly turn invisible to help with stealth kills, he can plummet down from any height as long as he turns into a Wraith before touching ground, and he can quickly teleport (like the blink ability in Dishonored) which is also useful for stealth kills. Talion can also brand enemies, meaning he can influence their decisions, get them to fight for him, start riots, you name it. He can also use this ability to brand beasts and use them in combat as well.
If the combat is any indication, Shadow of Mordor will be ripe with numerous decisions for the player in terms of combat choices, style, and how a mission can be completed. For those who don’t like being pigeon-holed in games, Shadow of Mordor is a bright shiny beacon, despite what the name says. Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor will release on October 7, 2014 on PC, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 4.
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