Fight through Mordor and uncover the truth of the spirit that compels you, discover the origins of the Rings of Power, build your legend and ultimately confront the evil of Sauron in this new chronicle of Middle-earth.
User reviews: Very Positive (17,849 reviews)
Release Date: Sep 30, 2014

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Recommended By Curators

"Would be a competent but unremarkable Arkham-style open world game about killing orcs but made special with the Nemesis system and excellent voice work."
Read the full review here.

Recent updates View all (7)

March 23

Update: Build v1951.11

Stability Fixes:
  • Fixed memory leak when SLI is enabled that could lead to “out of memory” crashes.
  • Fixed crash that could occur when saving if user had >200 uncollected Runes on the map. (Game now only saves 32 best uncollected Runes left on map.)
  • Fixed crash that could occur when closing game on skin selection window.

General Fixes:
  • Fixed an edge-case where Uruks were not re-populating empty spaces in the hierarchy, leading to extremely empty hierarchies.
  • Leaderboards now navigate properly.
  • Improved detection of monitor native resolution.

ːShowdownː

42 comments Read more

February 17

Update: Build v1951.6

New Features:
  • Bright Lord DLC support added. (Note: Bright Lord DLC requires slightly higher system specs than Main Game Campaign. If you’re noticing a loss in performance, please lower system settings.)

Continued PC Improvements:
Stability:
  • Fixed rare crash encountered when going into Skills Menu.
  • Fixed a crash that could occur if blood failed to render.
  • Fixed issue where game would crash after a video card driver crash.
  • Fixed crash related to physics.

Performance:
  • Improved rendering on domination FX to improve framerate.

Save/Load:
  • Fixed issue where users save progress could be lost after watching benchmark to completion.

UI:
  • Added ability to skip Splash Screens after first launch.

General:
  • Steam Achievements not being awarded properly. (Issue 1: Occasionally Achievement wasn’t awarded even though game criteria satisfied. Game now verifies again whether Achievement criteria has already been met and will re-pop. In some cases, it may be required to perform unlock a 2nd time. Issue 2: Some Achievements weren’t being awarded in Challenge Mode even though they should have. This issue should now be resolved.)
  • Fixed issue where player would lose Orc Hunter Rune when restarting Lord of the Hunt DLC.

ːShowdownː

163 comments Read more

Reviews

“AMAZING”
9.3/10 – IGN

“Revolutionary”
5/5 – Joystiq

“Remarkable”
4.5/5 – VideoGamer

Coming to SteamOS/Linux

Middle-earth™: Shadow of Mordor™ will be available on SteamOS and Linux in Spring 2015.

About This Game

Fight through Mordor and uncover the truth of the spirit that compels you, discover the origins of the Rings of Power, build your legend and ultimately confront the evil of Sauron in this new chronicle of Middle-earth.

System Requirements

    Minimum:
    • OS: 64-bit: Vista SP2, Win 7 SP1, Win 8.1
    • Processor: Intel Core i5-750, 2.67 GHz | AMD Phenom II X4 965, 3.4 GHz
    • Memory: 3 GB RAM
    • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 | AMD Radeon HD 5850
    • DirectX: Version 11
    • Network: Broadband Internet connection
    • Hard Drive: 25 GB available space
    Recommended:
    • OS: 64-bit: Win 7 SP1, Win 8.1
    • Processor: Intel Core i7-3770, 3.4 GHz | AMD FX-8350, 4.0 GHz
    • Memory: 8 GB RAM
    • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 | AMD Radeon HD 7950
    • DirectX: Version 11
    • Network: Broadband Internet connection
    • Hard Drive: 40 GB available space
Helpful customer reviews
419 of 459 people (91%) found this review helpful
16 people found this review funny
14.2 hrs on record
Posted: November 21, 2014
Play this game if you enjoy:
Killing Orcs
Stabbing Orcs
Burning Orcs
Cutting of the Heads of Orcs
Gutting Orcs
Jumping on an Orc from a 20ft high rooftop, pinning him to the ground, then ruthlessly evicerating his thrashing body with a broken sword shank, spraying Orc blood to the wind, and hearing the lamentation of his Orc friends as they flee like cowards.
...
Shooting Orcs in the back as they run from you.
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327 of 359 people (91%) found this review helpful
4 people found this review funny
47.9 hrs on record
Posted: October 20, 2014
First things first.Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor will NOT evade comparisions with Ubisoft's heavyweight Assassin's Creed games and even WB's own Batman Arkham series.
After a fairly long 40hour hands-on with this game,I can say its one of the bests this year.
While the game itself draws inspiration from a handful of popular games,Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor has not failed to create its own identity.

[TL;DR Version,Down below]

PRESENTATION:
Starting from the protagonist(s),Talion certainly seems like a good fit for Tolkien's universe,with his stringy shoulder-length hair,his stoic manner,and his three-syllable moniker.The story bits and indentity of a particular "wraith" have been disclosed pre-release and I prefer not to discuss it here,a story that doesn’t make total sense for hardcore Tolkien scholars,but it’s brillantly-acted and paced!
In any case,the Talion/wraith dichotomy leads to some Shadow of Mordor's slickest moments.The ghostly wraith slides out of Talion's body from time to time to talk with him and then dissipates in a vaporous sigh.When the wraith's anger becomes all-consuming,Talion's face melts away to reveal the apparition underneath.
Mordor itself is an engaging open world with a vibrant and grim setting.The burnt orange-brown cliffs and pastures of Nurn are some of the best vistas you will appreciate.They say that the devil is in the details,but in Mordor,the devil is plain to see.It is in the details that you find the glimmers of light,even though you know that no happy ending is nigh.To sum the voice performance,Troy Baker and Alastair Duncan have done an exemplary job bringing Talion and the "Wraith" to life.

GAMEPLAY:
The reason this game stands apart from other adventure games is the Nemesis System,which works suprisingly well just as advertised!Think of it as a dynamic AI that puts you in epic encounters with orcs who have studied your behavior and will react accordingly,making each battle personal.If you flee from battling an enemy captain, you’ll hear about your cowardice the next time two of you tango.If you’re defeated by one,you’ll really get raked over the coals at a followup clash.Its a particularly phenomenal concept without which the game could be terribly boring.
Mordor’s close combat involves great,gory decapitation and stabbing animations,and outside of the scripted story missions,there are few distinctly separated stealth and combat areas.
What sets the feel of Mordor’s combat apart from the Batman games is that it’s really easy to get into trouble,especially early on.If you let the uruks raise the alarm in one of their strongholds,or just happen across a few large wandering groups on the densely populated map,you can quickly become overwhelmed by more enemies than you can hope to handle.Picking out the shield bearers and berserkers who are immune to frontal attacks and killing them first becomes tough to do when you’re completely surrounded and it goes downhill from there.

[ONLY FOR TL;DR SPAMMERS]

PROS:
+Well-realised open world with great art style
+Great characters complete with top-notch voice acting
+Surprisingly challenging combat
+Loads of references for Tolkien scholars.
+Nemesis system
+Storyline seems intriguing,BUT...

CONS:
-...the narrative just feels dull at times.
-An utterly disappointing finale.

VERDICT:
If you've been burned by one of those big-budget massively hyped games that released recently,come to Mordor and you won't walk away disappointed.
Sure,it isn't a perfect game by all means,it has its share of flaws but it's strengths overweighs those.
A far better and impressive game than many would’ve imagined,not just in terms of its action and LotR authenticity – but in bringing a genuinely new idea to gaming.
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334 of 399 people (84%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
26.1 hrs on record
Posted: December 7, 2014
Took me 24 hours to 100% the game. I'll be brief: the gameplay is pretty solid, fast-paced and brutal, the graphcs is top-class, nemesis system is innovation in game design and I totally fell in love with it, the plot is mature and the final scenes are just masterpiece with no happy-end and no final kiss. For me Shadow of Mordor is among BEST 3rd-person action games of all times. A solid 9/10 and I strongly recommend buying it.
Keep up the good work, Monolith!
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123 of 129 people (95%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
43.8 hrs on record
Posted: December 30, 2014
A no-nonsense fantasy action game where you play a dead man possessed by a dead elf and on a mission to create as many dead orcs as is inhumanly possible.

See my full review here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fL_2Q1mmPxI
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196 of 228 people (86%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
38.6 hrs on record
Posted: October 23, 2014
Orc Murder Simulator 2014 is a game that's centered around killing orcs. That's the vast majority of Orc Murder Simulator 2014, and pretty much everything revolves around the Murder of Orcs in this Simulator from 2014.

Jokes aside, this game wound up being surprisingly good. The nemesis system, despite sounding like a gimmick, wound up being an extremely impressive, and occasionally downright personal, part of gameplay. I can tell vast tales of the clashes I've had with other orcs, the battles and attacks that I've suffered and caused, but that would take time away from the review.

Let's just say it's a system that uses randomized orcs, gives them interesting characteristics and has the orcs give you lines depending on how you've interacted with them in the past, how you meet them in the present, and how they expect you in the future. I've had many orcs mock the sheer absurd number of times I've died. There was one who asked if my brains were scrambled, since, and I quote, "Every time you've fought me, you've died!" It's an incredibly deep and impressive system, and one I'd love to see in more games.

Combat-wise, this game is essentially ArkhamAslysassin's Creed, but it does that well, too. The combat is responsive, the bouncing between orcs mid-fight feels incredibly good, the animations are top-notch in quality, and the brutality of the combat lends itself a kind of weight to the fights. It's all really smooth and fun.

In terms of challenge, the game also requires the player not just rush in and fight. It's certainly possible, it's just not a very good idea, and the player WILL be overwhelmed if they don't retreat when he or she needs to. It necessitates proper planning, stealth and scouting. The player can look over the landscape, see if there's a more powerful orc in the midst, and make sure they finish their objective/grab their collectibles/do whatever without being terribly murdered.

Actually, that's something else to discuss. When you die, the game doesn't just reset your progress. The orc that murdered you, if it's a grunt, will get promoted to a captain, and the side-missions will progress without you. It's a great way to give a price to death, and an even better way to have the orcs remember you when you die. Just makes me love the game that much more.

The story is essentially "Middle Fanfiction: Shadow of Headcanon". It's not super-great. The voice-acting and production values are high, but I didn't care too much about Gruffy McGravellyvoice and his Elven Stand. I cared much more about Ratbag (Who was funny up until his face was rearranged) and Torvin, and the ending was kind of garbage. But in the end if you're playing this game for the written-story you're missing the point.

On the technical side of things, I've experienced a few slowdowns but that's probably because my CPU is getting old and needs better cooling. It will set your game to some settings that are optimal for your machine, and I had zero problems running it at 60. There shouldn't be too many issues.

Overall, the game is great. It plays great, it runs pretty damn well, and it has one of the most impressive mission-framing-mechanics I've witnessed. I want more games like this.
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474 of 641 people (74%) found this review helpful
7 people found this review funny
10.8 hrs on record
Posted: October 27, 2014
This new installation of Assassin's Creed really brings a new atmosphere. Ezio has gone into witness protection and changed his name to Talion. As a measure of self defense, he trained with Batman to expand his knowledge of combat and martial arts. Occasionally throughout the game, Ezio does an assortment of drugs, causing him to think that he has wraith abilities, such as jumping from extremely high heights and not dying, which in reality, is because of the wagon full of hay that he falls into. Thankfully, we don't have any of the "present day" ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ story that nobody really cares about, so the game does have some improvements on its predecessors.
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132 of 158 people (84%) found this review helpful
29.0 hrs on record
Posted: November 29, 2014
Monolith’s first adventure in Middle-earth, Guardians of Middle-earth, was less than stellar, but the developer has rediscovered its mojo. Shadow of Mordor is an excellent game, and it shows.

You take the role of Talion, a Ranger that’s soon thrust into the harsh reality that Mordor and Sauron’s forces aren’t quite as dormant and broken as Gondor has been led to believe all these years. After witnessing the deaths of his son and wife, Talion himself is then slain...only to reawaken later to discover that he is for the most part immortal, and now bound to a particular Elven wraith. The opening moments of the game are, as you’d expect, a tutorial in the guise of introducing you to the Shadow of Mordor. We get a crash course in sneaking, basic combat and are then thrown into the open world of this pre-Lord of the Rings slice of Middle-Earth.

The fairly basic set-up is elevated immensely by some superb performances. Talion’s mission for revenge never feels forced, and the slow revelation of his elven companion's identity and past is genuinely engaging. Even the addition of Gollum fits neatly within the narrative, and gives Shadow of Mordor a solid link to the film adaptations without forcing it and smacking players like they were a fish on a rock.

Never before I have played an open world third-person action game that involved so much running away, but Shadow of Mordor is full of ‘tactical retreat’ moments you’ll be facing, otherwise you’ll just be whisked back up one of the few towers spread throughout the game world for fast travel. Combat itself is inspired by the close-up brawls and acrobatics from the likes of Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham series, and Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed. That’s not exactly a problem although Shadow of Mordor can at times become a little unwieldy with enough foes and obstacles surrounding you. Counters to enemy attacks are generally easy to do with a single button, but dodging can run into trouble and those sharp pikes hurt – a lot.

As you keep slaying orcs and uruks in your travels you’ll be accumulating experience which you can eventually spend on new abilities, or some that unlock during specific story missions, so you can begin to see some unique flavours emerge. One of the Wraith abilities will let you use our bow to teleport to a target for instance, helping you get out of a tight spot. Then there’s always covering ground riding a Caragor, or even a mighty Rancor-like Gruag. Talion has multiple upgrade paths available to him. Not only can he upgrade his martial skills, and his ranged and stealth based wraith abilities, he also can modify each of three weapons with runes, which alter their effects when used. Coupled with unlockable skills and combat moves, Shadow of Mordor provides more depth in combat alone than practically any game on the market, and it's all in service of the wholesale slaughter of orcs.

But where Shadow of Mordor really shines...is the Nemesis System. Enemies are for the most part a generic horde you’ll be swinging a blade through or firing an arrow at, but that’s where Monolith’s Nemesis system plays its part. Sure you’ll be wading through the grunts of Mordor but very quickly you’ll find yourself being introduced to the higher echelons of orc and uruk society. Captains aren’t your average grunt as they’re much tougher with greater strengths, and early on they’ll have some debilitating weaknesses to exploit like a crippling fear of being burned.

Each of the captains – all the way to warchief – have their own name and ‘motivations’ to give a sense of what they’re thinking. The more interesting part about this system is how easily the deck can be reshuffled. As you start picking them off lesser uruks and orcs will rise to take their place. This means there’ll always be a command structure for Sauron’s army but it also provides an endless array of more challenging foes, as Monolith attempt to make them ‘unique’. It’s a façade to be sure as they end up spouting the same insults eventually, and the models are recycled with variations, but it’s a neat little trick that does try to keep things appearing fresh. To help the Nemesis feature more is the ‘memory’ these captains will have of previous encounters with Talion, so much so that they could be all bandaged up, their eyes turned milky white, or gloating you’ve yet to beat them at all and instead died by their hands many times. If you think it’s easy to take these guys out then you’ll be rudely awakened. Just because you're a Ranger doesn’t mean battles will be easy. As soon as those uruks start swarming around things get heated fast.

In the latter half of the game things switch up as you no longer have to just slice and dice your way through the uruk hierarchy, but can instead brand them as puppets that’ll do your bidding. It’s definitely a welcome change of pace, tactics and fun than just butchering a load more generated captains. It allows for some pretty interesting power struggles as you effectively ‘gain control’ to a degree.

Exploring the land of Mordor is where the game really shows its quality, and is highly recommended. Collectables, upgrades, side quests, weapon upgrade quests, artefacts, and hunting missions are littered throughout the world. They're a completionist's dream, adding more flavour and some interesting rewards.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor is a strong foray into the Tolkien universe, backed up by popular combat from other major action series, with its own free-running style to boot. The Nemesis system does keep things a little fresh even if after a while it’s illusion of orc and uruk society does start to break down. The fact these captains are going about their business just as we are helps it feel more chaotic. It is without a doubt the best experience set in Middle-Earth, but also stacks up against any action fantasy adventure, whether with a cape and cowl or haystack diving.

A Must Play

Be sure to check out Nerd House Gaming for more reviews!
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
109 of 127 people (86%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
35.7 hrs on record
Posted: November 6, 2014
Despite its initial detractors, J. R. R. Tolkien's novel, The Lord of the Rings, is revered by many fans and is one of the best-selling novels of all time. It's an extraordinary story that has spawned three extraordinary movies, but managed only a few ordinary videogames. Until now.

On the surface, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor owes a lot of its gameplay to the inspiration derived from the successful Batman: Arkham and Assassin's Creed series of games. Players are given an open world setting within Mordor to explore, and innumerable Orcs and Uruk-hai to battle, and it’s these battles that set Shadow of Mordor apart from its influences.

The combat mechanism is a familiar combination of hit and counter, but with an added “last stand” mini-game that allows the character to parry a deathblow to remain in the fight. Winning the mini-game and surviving feels truly epic.

What’s more, Mordor introduces a fascinating "Nemesis" system for players to contend with. Enemy combatants stand to gain promotion (and effectively level up) from defeating you, or from the death of one of their rivals. If you flee from combat, which is a perfectly valid option when faced against a dozen enemies, you will also be taunted should you face the same foes again.

While not perfect--dead Orcs should remain dead--it can be enthralling, especially as more abilities become available.

Outside of the gameplay, there’s also something for the screenshot enthusiasts out there. The most recent update has added a Photo Mode, which is quite fun in and of itself with the options available to tweak shots. Check out the Community Hub for some great examples of the shots being produced from within the game.

It seems like the gaming industry has turned a corner with respect to licensed products. The Batman series is exceptional, and from what I understand, there’s even an Alien game that’s actually very good.

And now, at long last, we’ve got the one Lord of the RIngs game to rule them all.
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132 of 172 people (77%) found this review helpful
19.7 hrs on record
Posted: December 7, 2014
It's like Batman arkham asylum and Assassin's creed had a baby.
If you are a fan of those games, and the Tolkien universe.
Then this is the game for you.

I personally feel like this game lived up to my expectations.
I was a little sceptical at first, because it looked too much like Assassin's creed.
But when you actually play the game, you forget all about it.

Pros:
+ Astonishing graphics
+ Counter Combat system
+ Stealth mode
+ Gollum... Do i need to say more?
+ Detailed environment
+ Wraith mode
+ Photo mode
+ Cape Physics
+ Nemesis system
+ Look mom, i can make a frontflip!

Cons:
- An Uruk threw his spear into a cliff and it killed me, apparently
- I insta killed a warchief with stealth
- Boss fights are way too easy

It's easy to say that this game has slowly become one of my favorite games of 2014.
Apart from the random spear kill, i really loved this game.
I give this title a 8/10 (9/10 if that spear didn't hit me)

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72 of 83 people (87%) found this review helpful
23.6 hrs on record
Posted: December 22, 2014
Positives
+ Excellent graphics
+ Combat is fluid and extremely fun, with lots of options
+ Open World
+ Interesting story in the LotR environment
+ Nemesis system is innovative and fun
+ Stealth
+ Very well optimized - I was worried about this, as my graphics card is at the very low end of the system requirements, but the game looked great and game play was extremely smooth

Negatives:
- A few of the side characters could have been fleshed out more
- Melee combat is extremely fun, but I found ranged a bit underwhelming and difficult to use
- While the combat is excellent, it gets a little repetitive after a while
- Caragors are annoying!

Overall:
An extremely fun and enjoyable game. This is my personal game of the year, and one of the best games I've played recently. Highly recommended.

Rating: 9/10
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79 of 95 people (83%) found this review helpful
27.5 hrs on record
Posted: November 20, 2014
This game does not bring a lot of new things to the table, except for the Nemesis system, which makes it really stand out.
All in all, this is a really good action/adventure game and beneficiates from the LOTR Universe.
Feels like an Assassin's Creed game but not as boring in my opinion.

Unfortunately the game is a bit too short and sometimes repetitive, but it's a good game if you want to enjoy some epic action from time to time.

I do not regret buying this game in the slightest, but try to buy it for cheaper than it is right now, because the game is really too short for my tastes.
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171 of 235 people (73%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
81.2 hrs on record
Posted: October 24, 2014
I met an orc. He said no matter what, even if it cost him his life, he would kill me. I then rode a monster and ate him.


12/10 Would buy again
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
1,142 of 1,720 people (66%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
27.4 hrs on record
Posted: October 20, 2014
Don't hate me for not recommending. I have my reasons for it.

This is my first review ever. Please read and rate it as a review.



26 hours and 8 minutes, 100% playthrough. 51/51 achievements.

For such a great game, that is too short playtime for 100%. I don't like the idea of games being unfinished when published. Game itself costs 50€ (bought it for half the price) and the rest is unlocked by buying a season pass or buying all the DLCs separatedly.

The game basically has unlimited amount of "boss fights" with the nemesis system. Once you face an enemy captain with a great set of strengths, you're going to be screwed. Cutting casually through hordes of normal enemies is enjoyable up to some point. Facing a boss enemy who can actually kill you with one strike if you mess up gives me the vibes.

The good:
+ Nemesis system.
+ Gameplay is awesomesauce
+ Music
+ Nemesis system.
+ Graphics
+ Worked great with mouse and keyboard while I hated to play Assassin's Creeds without a gamepad.
+ Nemesis system.

The bad:
- Story
- Short main questline (though I wouldn't see that as that bad thing when the story was mediocre)
- Clearly unfinished in my opinion
- The additional stuff starts repeating itself, bonus objectives counter that a little (I think I failed one bonus objective during the whole game)
- Out of lore monsters. I'm not saying I didn't enjoy battling graugs. I'm not 100% sure about this since I've only read the three LotR books and The Hobbit, but I don't think caragors, ghûls and graugs are part of the LotR lore. I had this feeling in the back of my head for the whole duration of the game.
- The final boss fight. MAJOR SPOILER WARNING:
Hit spacebar twice, click Sauron's knee once. Watch cutscene. See credits. LITERALLY.
Were they even trying?

I enjoyed the game. I wouldn't have played it for 26 hours if I didn't. I just wouldn't recommend it (especially for that full price) when the game feels unfinished. This is the first time ever I'm feeling like complaining about DLCs. I've bought Borderlands 2 season pass gladly, I've had premium for BF3 and BF4. Those felt like complete games when I played them. From my point of view DLCs should be supposed to add additional content to the game. Not to finish it or fix it.

In short: Great game, definitely worth playing. Just don't buy it for full price. It's not worth the money.
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113 of 149 people (76%) found this review helpful
4 people found this review funny
41.6 hrs on record
Posted: November 27, 2014
It seems one simply does walk through Mordor.
Was this review helpful? Yes No Funny
63 of 75 people (84%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
91.9 hrs on record
Posted: November 7, 2014
If Batman ever decided to take up arms and kill people. He'd nickname himself Talion. I dropped poison in uruks beverages, threw knives like Batarangs, even made 4 uruks out of a group of 5 turn around and beat the hell out of the 1 remaining uruk then I walked away without looking back like a boss. 10/10
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51 of 60 people (85%) found this review helpful
20.8 hrs on record
Posted: November 24, 2014
This is not a review, but I highly recommend this action role-playing game for the following reasons.

1. A beautiful open world environment set in middle earth.
2. Very fluid and stylised combat system, with impressive stealth mechanics.
3. Dazzling and highly polished cut scenes carry the story along.
4. The main quest shows some of the events which lead to the creation of the..
5. Excellent voice acting and epic sounding music.
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97 of 135 people (72%) found this review helpful
51.0 hrs on record
Posted: October 20, 2014
The Assassin's Creed game for those sick of Assassin's Creed games.

Watch as Desmond accesses the memories of his ancestor Celebrimbor.

Enjoy new mechanics like the Nemesis system and old favorites such as unintentionally running up walls.

Power. Revenge. Control. Orcs.

Click Add to Cart and block out a weekend or two.

- Skinny from the Fat B*stard (curator link)
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343 of 534 people (64%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
16.7 hrs on record
Posted: November 10, 2014
I don't really know what to say about this game. I played for nearly 20 hours, and it certainly didn't feel like 20 hours, but I'm not sure whether that's because I was having so much fun, or because there's not actually that much to do before you find yourself rinsing, repeating, and killing killing killing your way to the end.

There's really 2 halves to the game - the half where you grasp the controls and prance around a rocky, muddy wasteland slaying anything that moves and indulging 2 or 3 types of missions; and the half where you prance around a rocky, verdant meadow slaying or brainwashing anything that moves and indulging 2 or 3 different types of missions.

To be fair, I did enjoy myself for a large part. But it was upon staring slackjawed at the screen as the woefully anticlimactic boss fights came and went in about 15 seconds (no, I am not exaggerating) that I realised that this game introduced one interesting game mechanic, rehashed a number of established mechanics (albeit well enough to make them functional and fun) and then offered nothing else other than a sandbox with which to exercise these abilities for as long as it took you to turn yourself to the main story. Which would be FINE if the story had a satisfying conclusion, or the sandbox didn't feel so much like a literal pit within which the developers had simply thrown some enemies leaving a lot of empty space with little else filling the gaps.

I sound confused because I am. Monolith make well-designed and fun games, and Shadow of Mordor is both those things. But given that the review that convinced me to buy it stated that 'no-one could feel short-changed with the amount of content on offer', I felt remarkably short-changed. The Nemesis system is fantastic, there is no denying that, and it offers some of the most genuinely intelligent and dynamic enemies in gaming history. It truly is a gaming milestone. However, nearly everything else about the game comes from somewhere else - the parkour was better used in Assassin's Creed, the combat is straight from the Arkham series, the mission structures are ripped from nearly every open-world game in existence, the skill trees are old, the XP system is old, and on top of all that the enemies are practically deaf and blind...And it's this lack of true depth that left me feeling like the purchase wasn't worth my money. By the time I had finished playing, I felt like I had explored everything this game had to offer, and there was no reason for me to return. I didn't DISLIKE my time, but I didn't feel compelled to play again.

I suppose I have been spoiled, because I bought Alien: Isolation at around the same time, and that's a game that left me feeling like I could play again and have an entirely different experience a second time around. I paid almost the same amount of money for this as I did that, and I don't think I'll go back again, which feels like a waste - like buying an $80 meal to find that you've eaten it before elsewhere, and cheaper.

To make a comparison, I feel that Shadow of Mordor is like the first Assassin's Creed, in that it introduces a fantastic concept (in this case, the Nemesis system), but the game itself exists only as a framework for that concept, and offers little else that the player can't get elsewhere. To make another comparison, the issues I have are the same as with Infamous: Second Son, for those of you that have played: The MEAT, the things that you are actually given to do, all fall within 2 or 3 different categories, and all those categories involve killing a bunch of enemies that are fundamentally the same, and as such the environment becomes little more than a set of boundaries within which you can kill these nameless creatures, and your character becomes little more than a tool with which to kill.

There are open-world games, and there are open world games. Games like GTA IV keep me coming back because every time I play I can turn a corner and find something new. The beauty of the first two Arkham games was that the city itself had such personality that there was always something to see for those who cared to look. Unfortunately, I feel that Shadow of Mordor falls into an increasingly large pile of games that have a lot of style and little substance. Which is a shame because there is so much right about the game - the characters are great, the animations are wonderful, the voice acting is excellent, the action is gory and adult, the Nemesis system is truly a step forward, and the LOTR lore is explored in a really engaging way. However, after a short time the game feels repetitious, the environments feel big and empty, and the story ends as if the writer fell off a cliff mid-sentence and someone had to smash together what they thought the ending was supposed to be.

I'd love to recommend this game, especially as it is evident a lot of money and hard work went into its creation, and for a cheaper price I absolutely would. But for the good of the consumer, I can't recommend it for full price - if this game were a bag of chips, the product would be delicious, but the bag would be mostly air.
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46 of 57 people (81%) found this review helpful
22.2 hrs on record
Posted: December 15, 2014
Shadow of Mordor is an open world third person action game based on the Lord of the Rings franchise. The events take place after the Hobbit but before Fellowship, and the player controls Talion, a ranger of Gondor. Talion and his family are killed by Sauron's Orcs, but instead of dying, Talion joins with the spirit of an ancient Elf, gains magical powers, and swears revenge.

The combat system is fantastic, and its very similar to the Batman Arkham series. You have normal sword attacks, counters, stuns and ground finishers, and when you get a hit streak you can perform an instant kill melee execution or a radial magic attack. You also have a bow that can instant kill with a headshot (it can be used effectively at close range because time slows down while you aim). The bow also allows you to teleport to the enemy's location instead of firing an arrow. The action is fast and fluid, and when you get into a good rhythm, chaining together all these moves feels badass. Its easily as good as, perhaps even better than, the Batman combat.

There's also a pretty good stealth system. The level design allows plenty of opportunities to sneak up close and kill with the dagger, or climb up tall buildings and use the bow. There are usually a few ways to use the environment to your advantage, such as using your bow to shoot an exploding barrel, free a Caragor (an animal similar to a Warg) from its cage to attack nearby Orcs, or drop a hornet's nest to make them swarm the Orcs. You can ride Caragors into battle, and in the second half of the game you gain the ability to "brand" Orcs which forces them to fight for you against other Orcs.

The other key gameplay mechanic is the nemesis system. There are dozens of Orc captains spread around the map, and each time you encounter them they have a couple of lines of dialogue before you fight. They'll taunt you if they killed you before, or they might call you a coward if you've used alot of stealth or ranged attacks, which gives these captains alot of personality.

As you would expect, they're tougher to kill in direct combat than regular Orcs, but if you interrogate a minion first you can learn a captain's strengths and weaknesses, which will then allow you to plan how to fight them. I especially enjoyed taking advantage of any opportunity for an instant kill. Sneaking into an Orc stronghold, locating the captain and positioning myself for a backstab or a headshot, all while remaining unseen, made me feel more like a master assassin than I ever did in Assassins Creed.

The player has alot of freedom to devise their own plans. For example - how to kill a top level warchief. These Orcs usually have one or two captains as their bodyguards. If you want, you could fight them all together. Its tough, but doable. Alternatively, you could kill the bodyguards first, then fight the warchief on his own. Or, you could brand a bodyguard and order him to attack the warchief for you. This game doesn't force you to follow a script. It gives you an objective, a range of abilities, and lets you find your own solution.

The story is okay, but I always find prequels to be less exciting, because I already know what happens next. Having said that, there are some interesting characters and very good voice acting. It took me 22 hours to finish the main storyline and all the interesting side quests, so value for money is excellent.

The graphics are great and my framerate was very smooth even with lots of enemies on screen. My PC has an i7 2600k @ 3.4Ghz, 8GB Ram and a GTX 770 with 4GB VRam, and I was able to run most settings at high in 1080p. I did have an issue with screen tearing even when Vsync was on, and the solution I found from the forums was to disable Vsync and run in borderless windowed mode. After making that change I had no problems whatsoever. I used my Xbox 360 gamepad because of the similarity to Batman/AC, and this worked perfectly.

Shadow of Mordor is one of the best games I've played in 2014 and I definitely recommend it as a full price purchase. The gameplay is so good that I don't think you need to be a fan of LOTR to enjoy it.
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34 of 39 people (87%) found this review helpful
107.9 hrs on record
Posted: November 2, 2014
I'd like to start out by stating that I am NOT that into the LOTR or it's universe. I've casually watched the series (and the Hobit), but I don't know much about it's lore. This game, however, has really changed my views. I find myself more interested in the origins of the story having traversed the open world of Mordor. It's been... interesting.

The Nemesis system is what makes this game unique (in my opinion). And while the main story is relatively short, I spent hours hunting down captains while simultaneously manipulating the Orcish hierarchy. The pure satisfaction that is seeing one of your minions overthrow a Warchief is something rarely experienced in a video game. Take note: Nemesis is a success.

Mordor may be Mordor, but the game itself looks absolutely stunning - especially when you get to see the later half of the game. Ruin and destruction turn to vibrant oceans with picture perfect sunsets. Animation and sound (especially voice acting) is straight on par with my expectations... and that haunting hum from the opening moments has a way of staying in your mind.

AI has it's issues at times, but that's to be expected in any open world game. Surprisingly the game is relatively clean (bug wise), though clipping through walls and other minor annoyances do occur. It does seem to be a solid port running the game with everything maxed on an GTX 760/Win 7.

All in all I am pleasantly surprised by this game and I can't wait to see what they do with the Nemesis system. The story may be rather shallow, but there is plently to do and see in Mordor and it's well worth it's purchase price. BRING ON THE DLC!

Solid 8.5/10

On winds and waters may you cross, see mountains white and blue.
But on your road, lest not forget, the love I have for you...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n64zqo-Kzy0
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