Middle Earth: Shadows of Mordor; heck yeah a new Lord of the Rings game? 2009 brought us Lord of the Rings conquest, a game I honestly thoroughly enjoyed, and the more recent War in the North gave a few hours of unbridled, Lord of the Rings skinned, violence. So when a next gen Lord of the Rings title was announced, I was falling out of my seat. But delving deeper, I realized perhaps, this new game isn’t exactly what I want in a new Tolkien lore game.
Let’s start out with what I see in the game that I appreciate. Beautiful textures and facial capture (which is expected of course) and new gameplay mechanics that would add immensely to make a brilliant play through. The new nemesis system, to me at least, is the evolution on RPG’s. Uruk (actually orc; will be discussed later) chieftains will build personal relationships with you as you encounter them; every play through is different this way; how you injure or cripple a certain chieftain will directly affect your next encounters with him; brilliant.
Gameplay is recycled, which isn’t always a bad thing, which may be the case with Shadows of Mordor. The devs even admitted they took the combat from Rocksteady’s and WB’s Arkham series. Utterly obvious Assassins Creed elements are painfully apparent. Some of the surfaces for climbing seem to share textures and animations directly from AC; who knows; it could play totally different… but still; its questionable of how original the gameplay will be.
Now; onto the good stuff- or bad stuff I guess. The devs, from what I’ve seen and heard have no damn regard for the canonical lore of Lord of the Rings. The trailer sports a scene of Suaron wrecking the rangers shit; ummm. As far as I know, Sauron was bodiless, from his first fall to his second. What’s the deal? I thought that was a well-known fact? Please, it would be much more correct, and honestly believable if he got stabbed by the Witch King by a Morgul blade. If Sauron had a body, he would be much more active in the years between the Hobbit and LOTR. Now, what the hell is a wraith? When this question arose, I turned to my official Tolkien Lore Bestiary, and found nothing of a Wraith, aside from the Nazgul. AND if in fact this protagonist was possessed by a Ring-Wraith (Nazgul), he would have no conscious decision or agency, just as Frodo was losing his when he was attacked by a Nazgul. Now if Monolith has created this new foe, the Wraith, they better make it fit into the lore.
I’m sorry, not much more; but it’s time for the biggest joke. First, Rangers of the western Eriador had no business guarding a citadel of evil so far to the east, over the Misty Mountains. Men of Gondor; that’s the logical answer to who would defend the black gates. Second, why the hell would you keep your family in Mordor? Contrary to popular belief THE NAZGUL CAMPED IN MORDOR during Sauron’s regeneration. In the hobbit, Gandalf and Radagast visit a tomb of 9, that truly doesn’t exist. Peter Jackson seemed to have forgot the Nazgul are neither living or dead. All nine went dormant in Minas Morgul during Sauron’s absence; so why would you have a family live in such an awkward setting? The protagonist’s family died ‘because they lived in goddam Mordor’; it seems like a tacked on event to increase the characters drive and motivation for revenge; but its done wrong.
I’m sorry if I sound utterly ignorant, but this is how I feel. It’s flawed, and doesn’t feel like the Lord of the Rings I know and love.