What’s Killing My Social Life This Week – Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor

shadowofmordorgrootHowdy Hobbit-heads! It has been far too long since we sat down to talk games, so I”m here to right that horrible injustice and to let you know exactly why it is C-Mart is rarely seen these days away from the TV in the Evil Lair. Let’s talk gaming, Evil Geeks! Today’s topic: Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor from WB Games and Monolith Productions.

We’ve left behind the trusty Xbox 360 and have mega evolved, Pokemon Style into the nascent world of the Xbox One, which quite frankly hasn’t been a smooth transition. Sure the new console is cool and all, but there still aren’t any huge killer games yet. We’ve come close for sure; Titanfall has been an amazing experience as has Destiny. In terms of multiplayer action both of those titles have been getting me by. However in this new age of always connected gaming, I feel like the multiplayer experience is taking precedent over single player gaming and as a result games overall have been suffering. Give me a good story damn it! Give me an unending stream of baddies which I can use to leave a trail of corpses from the title screen all the way to the end credits. After months of searching for a game to scratch that solo, action, adventure itch, I finally picked up a copy of Shadow of Mordor.

MiddleearthShadowofMordor_Gollum_ScreenshotA little bit of back story on the plot of the game: you play a ranger named Talion who lives in a non-copyright infringing, loosely interpreted, not in canon version of Middle Earth, during the period of years between The Hobbit Trilogy and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Talion is your average badass with a little touch of ring wraith abilities imbued within him, who happens to have a very Kratos like thing happen to him one day when his family is brutally murdered by an invading army of Orcs. Talion is hellbent on avenging his fallen family and promptly begins cutting a bloody swath through Sauron’s army of Orcs, leaving brutalized Orc carcasses strewn all over Middle Earth. The game follows you as you take out various officers and lieutenants in the Orc army, as you kill your way up the chain to the war chiefs.

shadow-mordor-nemesis-weaknessThe gameplay is fairly simple, with the control scheme falling somewhere between the Batman Arkham games and the Assassins Creed games. It makes for an incredibly smooth fighting style, which can make taking on 50 Orcs at once seem like a walk in the park. The weapon cache isn’t exactly deep; you get a standard sword, dagger, and bow, all of which can be upgraded with various abilities and advantages. Like the fighting system, the weapons are also simple, which means it’s easy to pick up and become decent at the game, but the action is so satisfying that you’ll feel compelled to upgrade your skills to the point where each battle becomes a carefully choreographed ballet of blood and severed limbs.

middle-earth-shadow-of-mordorTrust me, the game play is fantastic, but the thing that really sets Shadow of Mordor apart from other action games is the depth of character development and detail that have gone into creating a fully fleshed out cast of bad guys and a continuity within the game where what you do affects how the game plays out for you.  The officers in the orc army each have distinct personality traits, unique looks, and individual strengths and weaknesses. For example, let’s say Blarg the Butt-Kicker has worked his way up from the dirt to become a captain in the Orc army. Blarg may have had an unfortunate accident with some matches as a child and as a result, he’s a little skittish around fire. How do you know this? Well you grabbed one of his lackeys and shook him down for the info. After learning of the weakness you charge after Blarg and manage to toss him into a campfire, causing him to burst into flames and run screaming into the hills before you can slice his throat to finish him off. The next time you run into Blarg (and trust me, you WILL run into Blarg because Mordor isn’t that big of a place) he’s going to look more like Freddy Kruger than an Orc and he’s seriously going to be pissed off if he gets lit up like the human torch again. Baddies will remember you. They will remember if you kill their friends and they will want revenge. If they happen to kill you, not only will they remember it and taunt you about it later on, they’ll also get a promotion along with a serious boost in power. Not only do you level up in the game, but the baddies level up too. If you fail to chop off the head of a level 10 Orc captain, well the next time you cross paths, he’ll be a level 13 captain who’s now immune to having his head cut off.

It’s seriously CRAZY the amount of detail that the developers poured into this game. I can only hope that this is a signal of more to come when it comes to next gen gaming. Worlds that not only look incredibly deep and rich but also have an in-game story just as robust as the graphics. If you’ve made the switch to next gen gaming and feel like there’s just nothing out there for you, then do yourself a favor and check out Shadows of Mordor. You don’t need to be a die hard Tolkien fan to enjoy the game. You just need to have a love for adventure, incredible combat, and the desire to create mayhem among the Orcs and this game will keep you satisfied for weeks! Stay tuned in the next few weeks to find out what ELSE has been killing my social life on the next gen consoles.

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About C-Mart

A true Marvel Zombie, die-hard George Romero fan, Star Wars addict, Whovian, and life-long gamer. I make with the Tweets @CMart0979

Posted on December 11, 2014, in Features, Geekology, Reviews, Video Games, What's Killing My Social Life This Week and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Waiting for the Orc who is allergic to swords….it just HAS to happen eventually.

    • Then of course because kids are so soft these days, that’ll mean that every kid in that Orcs school can’t bring a sword with them any more. No more sword and jelly sandwiches for lunch any more… It’s downright un-American.

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