Games You Might Have Missed: Shadow of Mordor
I have a nasty habit of purchasing games at full-price and then not having time to play through them. The result? A belated look at games you might have overlooked but are totally worth playing…at a lower price point.
The Breakdown: Shadow of Mordor takes place after the events of The Hobbit, but before Lord of the Rings. In it, you play as Talion, Ranger of Gondor and Captain of the Black Gate. After the Uruk army attacks and kills you and your family, you awaken resurrected – your body bound with the elf Celebrimbor. The two of you must defeat the Black Hand of Sauron in order to break the curse and rest peacefully.
Elevator Pitch: You’ll feel like a badass warrior with simple switching between sneak, ranged, and melee attacks. Open, encapsulated maps & missions allow for short or marathon play sessions as you leave a trail of blood through Mordor.
The Verdict: Mordor has fantastic battle gameplay and unique enemy leveling scheme. It’s absolutely worth playing, especially on the cheap. Though if you were considering playing as a female character, get ready for some weirdness.
The Whole Story: If you’re looking for a Middle-earth-themed game featuring your favorite recognizable characters…this isn’t it. However, if you’re looking to bust some Uruk heads, and feel like a brutal warrior of legend, this is the game for you.
Let’s talk about that gameplay: Shadow of Mordor essentially combines all common RPG classes. You fight as rogue, warrior, and mage all at once and switching between each is almost seamless. Celembrimbor’s power to slow time allows for quick transitioning to ranged attacks before charging into the Uruk horde to deal some damage with your sword & dagger.
Though the game does get weird when you play as the female character option. As a female myself, I gravitated to this option assuming I might better connect with the character and story. But playing as a girl, seemingly a completely different character, doesn’t actually change the story in Shadow of Mordor. Flashbacks still appear as Talion, and any time you talk to yourself or another character, it’s with Talion’s voice.
At first I thought, “Eh, this is just some laziness on Monolith Production’s behalf. The gameplay is still awesome and that’s what counts.” But then…I met myself.
See, the female you play as appears halfway through the story as Lithariel, the Warrior Commander of the Tribesmen of Nurn. So you’re still Talion in cutscenes, talking to the lady you play as. And if that’s not weird enough, in one quest Lithariel is captured and you have to save…yourself?
At least her name is pretty kick ass, and with Shadow of Mordor, truly the battling is where it’s at. Visualizing your character as Lithariel, the Warrior Commander of the Tribesmen of Nurn is pretty awesome regardless of it just being a re-skin.
The Uruk leveling scheme also bears a quick mention. As you progress through the game, your Uruk enemies will level along with you. This happens most notably when you die, as the Uruk who killed you is promoted for his victories. Uruks also battle one another, gaining levels and making your job a bit harder. It’s a particularly interesting way to approach an open map game, ensuring that certain areas rarely contain low-level enemies.
Despite the avatar weirdness, if you’re looking for a truly awesome action game, you should definitely pick up Shadow of Mordor on your console of choice. And when you’ve played for a bit, let me know your thoughts on the game in the comments section below!