I’ll be completely honest with you all, before I purchased Shadow of Mordor, it was nowhere near my radar. I had seen a few adds, but what I expected was a mediocre game that used The Lord of the Rings brand to sell a hack and slash game. What I got was something that has me coming back every night and enjoying every second of game play. Like the title states, Shadow of Mordor is far and away my surprise of the year.
The only reason I picked up Shadow of Mordor is because I wanted to trade in NHL 15 and Diablo III to GameStop for some extra video game spending money. Since they were having a deal, I got a bit more than I expected and had enough to buy a full game with a bit left over.
For some reason, I got the idea that “hey, just buy Shadow of Mordor, it may surprise you.” I went on and bought it, albeit a bit reluctantly, and left GameStop with a new game and a bit of trade in value in my pocket.
Jump ahead to the moment I’m writing this article, about 10-11 hours into the game, and the mindless fun I’m having with this title is off the charts. Maybe it was because my expectations were so low, but I don’t think I’ve played this game without a smile being ever-present across my face.
As weird as it sounds, I think the violence has a lot to do with my satisfaction. In games with similar combat systems, you don’t get a real pay off for beating an enemy (ie Batman or Assassin’s Creed), all that happens is that you knock them out, or they just lay there. In Shadow of Mordor on the other hand, you’re going to either be stabbing an Uruk through the neck of completely lopping off its head with one or two swings of your sword.
This bloody instant gratification lends itself so well to the overall feel of the game. It doesn’t feel as if you’re playing a dumbed down version that is catering to the mass market, you feel that this combat fits in that universe and gives the game a very gritty, adult feel.
The ability to forge your own stories due to the Nemesis system is also something worth talking about. With this system in place, your enemies will always remember you and grow stronger after each battle that they stay alive in.
For instance, I had a nice rivalry going with this one Uruk. We had fought a good 7-8 different times and each time he had bested me. It got to the point where he was level 19 and could only be taken down by stealth take downs. I stalked him one day for what had to be close to an hour, waiting for a good vantage point. After finding one, I waited and waited until he walked by and I dropped down, killing him and sending fear through the hearts of a good 20 Uruks that were with him.
Stories like that are the reason I play video games. It wasn’t scripted, but because the design of the game is so great, it happened and now I can tell that tale to others. Shadow of Mordor isn’t perfect, but it damn sure is a lot of fun. I cannot recommend this title enough and when that time rolls around, it may even get some Game of the Year talks surrounding it.