Middle-earth: Shadow Of Mordor

10/21/2014 9:36:51 PM

Travel back into the world of Middle Earth with this game, which takes place between the end of The Hobbit and the beginning of The Lord Of The Rings.

In Middle-earth: Shadow Of Mordor, you play the role of Talion, a Gondorian Ranger, whose family is killed by Sauron's army of orcs and goblins on the night they return to take over Mordor.


Talion should have died with his wife and son when he was slain, but instead finds himself alive and somehow fused with the spirit of an elf lord. Together, they seek vengeance against a common enemy responsible for their undying plight.

As Talion, you have an arsenal of special attacks and moves at your disposal. Some of these come from your training as a ranger, others from the elf lord's spirit residing in you.

At first, you can do only simple things, such as dodge, attack and block. However, as you progress, you will unlock more skills.

For instance, when you learn the Execution skill, you can immediately kill an enemy after you have achieved a continuous hit combination of eight attacks. Wraith Blast lets you stun all enemies around you, so you can make a quick escape or follow up with a flurry of strikes.

Trying to defeat the powerful bosses early in the game is almost impossible, as Talion has yet to acquire the skills needed to compete at a higher level. Getting those skill points, however, takes time, so I found myself deliberately seeking out side missions and quests to level up my character and buff his power.

As you slay orcs and goblins, as well as complete missions and quests, you gain Experience Points (XP), which lets you unlock additional skills. However, the skills are divided into tiers and you need Power Points to unlock higher level tiers before you can use your XP to gain the new skills of that tier.

Melee combat is hugely satisfying and feels like the Batman games. You need to dodge and block attacks, while dishing out damage to your opponents. You can throw enemies, knock them over a bridge, instantly kill enemies you have knocked to the ground, stun them and execute various combinations, which will make you feel like a superhero as you take out enemies by the dozen.

You can also sneak up on your enemies to make instant kills, but eventually, you must engage in hand-to-hand combat in most fights. Your wraith powers make you an expert scout, as it will reveal to you the silhouettes of your enemies, even those hidden from normal sight.

You also have the power to slow down time when you draw back your bowstring to aim. However, you cannot take too long to get a good shot, as you will then drain your Focus meter.

Where the game truly excels is in its orc and goblin enemy generation engine, which creates new orcs and goblin captains as you slay the old ones. I always thought all orcs and goblins looked the same, but the face-creation engine generates unique looks for these minions of evil, which give each a unique look.

Your character is cursed and cannot die, but every time you are defeated by an enemy, that enemy gets promoted and will be harder to fight the next time you meet it.

Defeat, therefore, makes the game harder to complete. So, mindlessly charging into the fray is not a good idea. Often, you have to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of a captain before engaging him to help stack the odds of victory in your favour.

Some captains can be killed by stealth attacks, while others fear the mounted beasts called Caragors, which you can ride into battle. To acquire intel, you can interrogate certain marked orcs or look for clues among barrels and carts.

After one too many battles, the combat sequence can become a little repetitive. Apart from this, Shadow Of Mordor is a fabulous game, which is a must-play for fans of JRR Tolkein and Middle Earth.

Rating: 8.5/10

  • $76.90 (PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, version tested); $64.90 (PC)
  • Action adventure

PS4 game trailer XBox One game trailer
WiiU game trailer 3ds game trailer
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