Short Review / SEMI-RETROSPECTIVE : PS4 Version
You’ve seen the “Lord of that Rings” film, now get ready for another computer game. You play as Talion, a ranger man with spooky powers. Now buckle in for a buzzword of a exciting word and verb noun MacDonald.
Hmm, it’s a bit of an old game to review, a whole year and a bit ago. In game years (much like dog years) you could say it’s technically over 7 years old now. Let’s not worry about time or relevance. None of that matters. Nothing ever matters.
Disclaimer – The following contains vast amounts of swearing, which sounds as if I was frothing at the keyboard. So please, imagine a dishevelled hermit screaming from a rock, wrapped in a formally wet smoking jacket made from own-brand tissues.
Stop killing my computerised fucking family you sociopathic, wannabe-Hollywood, grasping hacks!
How many fucking wife’s must I lose to fucking computer games!? Why do you bother? I don’t need a bloody excuse to lop Orcs’ heads off in game. Fucking hell, I can barely contain myself in any open world. Name one open world game in which you don’t go out of your way to clump someone on the head? I can’t remember playing any of the story missions in Just Cause 2. I spent the entire time toppling buildings.
You know what’s better then introducing player agency via the gift of family murder? No intro whatsoever.
Give me a sword and an Orc… done. You think I’d emotionally invested after meeting the 2D wife? Like fuck! It’s a piss poor attempt to manipulate my feelings. Might have worked if I knew who these fuckers were. Like I give a shit.
Why not kill the beloved happy family halfway through the game? Hey, why is the family always happy? Wouldn’t it be more interesting to have your sulky teenage child murdered by an Orc like a 80’s horror film. Maybe his name is Chad and he’s trying to get in Susan’s knickers at Mordors Creek.
Hey, you can recreate the sexy pottery scene in “Ghost”. Complete with quick time events with the pervy gooey pots? Go on, sit behind her, rub out those half made pots Talion, press X quicker. All the kids love sexy haunted pottery action. The teary eyed little fuckers.
If you killed the wife after establishing any reason for me giving a shit, maybe I won’t shrug when she’s beheaded. I said maybe.
The moment I see a happy family in a big budget AAA game I’m already wondering how long the poor sods have got. It’s like an episode of Colombo or Casualty (for those of the UK persuasion, you fruity devils). Will she suffer a gunshot to the back? Nuclear missile up the arse? Maybe massive diarrhoea? Muscular dystrophy, or both at the same time?
Apart from that, the story tries to whip up excuses for doing things. Attempts to fit in with established Lore. If you’re agreeable to meddling with Tolkien’s lore that is. Some people get a tad touchy about it. You can’t please ‘em all.
So, did you appreciate the pleasurable rant? Or prefer the more, measured approach? Could have swore more, right?
Every game, quite rightly, has the Batman: Arkham Asylum fighting method. It works excellently in Shadow of all your Mordors and makes for an exhilarating time, as Tailon bounds around with glee. The time will come where you actively searching out Orc murder groups just to see how many you can take on. It’s a meaty visceral game that encourages you to learn better techniques, not just because they’re handy, but because insta-beheading doesn’t get old. You can sneak around too. Very handy for stabbing up Captains in the Nemesis system; Nemi-wot-now?
The Nemesis System could be shorthand for randomly generated Orcs of importance. They make up the tiers of the Orc army, as they squabble for power and carry out their own agendas, agendas you can gatecrash. Not all Orcs are born equal, as they level up and grow over time. Their traits obscured to you as you find out the hard way, this guy can’t be stealth killed!
I hope this technology is the future of open world games, as it made a huge difference. I was quite content to ignore the story for long periods of time to wander Mordor hunting down the Captains in Sauron’s army, for fun. You’re never too far away from an interesting encounter. I was a little surprised that a bloke I beheaded, returned to the battlefield in an unhappy state looking for revenge. The fact that I remembered a random Orc captain is an incredible feat.
Sneaking up on Orcs for a brutal stealth kill was fun for the entirety of the time I was playing Shadow of Mordor; but do you know what’s better?
Creating your own unethical, wholly organic, home grown Orc army. It’s about bloody time eh? You can interrogate Orcs “in the know” to reveal the strengths or weaknesses of the Captains or brand them to create your own loyal and devoted murder cheerleader. The clever Ranger can even manage to uplift an measly everyday Orc to a position of power. Its really up to you. Quite rare a large AAA game gives such a fun mechanic with the freedom to manipulate it to your whims.
The whole game could have been this sole mechanic, sod the revenge story. Put in more randomly generated missions, few more tiers of Orc and a big war against the armies of Mordor to ends things.
Spicy Orc-on-Orc action.
Why bog down the slick power fantasy with a miserable white guy. Next time just put me in charge of a directionless powerful wraith with a chip on his see-through shoulder.
Talking of mechanics, there are loads to mess around with and unlike most games of this type, they’re all viable and fun. Parkour, Riding naughty creatures, BEES! Slow-mo arrow headshots, teleportation, BEES! Stealth kills, Setting fire to enemies, doing all of these things to the Orc Captains. Orc Captains that might well remember the cruel things you did to him, if he manages to get away from ya. BEES!
Oh yes, don’t forget a game like this wont be complete without climbing a tower to reveal things on a map! THE JOY! The climbing is light and pleasant enough, as it generally leads to a nice viewpoint or, if lucky, humongous stealth murder jumps.
Shadow of Mordor did suffer from the odd unresponsive moments. Tailon at times appears ungraceful and over animated, when I just want to turn a-fucking-round. Other times the game decided Tailon and camera aren’t permitted to move, or become incredibly stodgy. Sometime’s the camera decides to give you a close up view of an excellently rendered broken wall. It’s not an overly glitchy game, but these problems happened more then once and pulls you out from the pleasure zone. When you’re enjoying a slickly made game, these moments become more noticeable.
I will admit to craving another layer to the Nemesis System, as I enjoyed working my way up the ranks. It needed more ranks; Major Orc. Who needs dreary story missions when the game generates randomised fun. Having a conflict escalate is a rush. Orc re-enforcements pile in, deadly Captains show up and Tailon barely scampers away. Listening to the mocking Orc, as you hide in a bush. Deciding to return to pick them off one by one.
You can tell that I played Shadow of Mordor long after completing it.
Of course being a “Game of the Year Edition” it came with all the downloadable content. It’s mostly forgettable and adds very little of importance. I tried out the silly hunting downloadable content which was one big side mission and was pretty stale out the box. I had my fill of Mordor and couldn’t face the final DLC. If you found Tailons and the Ring-Wraiths tale uninspiring, more tid-bits of story wont change your mind about it. Wow, imagine buying a season pass for this ol’ nothing. Hah-Ha, complete edition.
Game of the year edition?
Publishers are arrogant dickheads aren’t they? Give it its proper title.
- “All the DLC shite edition”
- “Sell it again, to the mentally unstable edition”
- “We’ll get you in the end edition”.
Crap story set-up aside, the rest of the adventure was fine, if not typical of this genre. I loved Shadow of Mordor. It’s the first “next generation” game on consoles that feels like it couldn’t be done on the previous. With a soon to be announced sequel we can hope the publishers can improve upon this solid base. Odds are they won’t have a clue what people liked about this in the first place, as they’ve asked a gang of inebriated penguins to focus test the last game. The idiots.
Why isn’t it a 9? Sounds like it should be a 9? Because the score guide said so. He would know.