When Monolith showed off more of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor in a new trailer at E3 2014, it nailed home that this bold step in a new direction was just what this ailing franchise needed.
However, past experience from previous Lord of the Rings games have left quite a sour taste in our collective mouths (ew), which meant Shadow of Mordor didn’t need to just deliver on its new and heavily touted ‘Nemesis System’, it had to embody the LoTR experience while breaking new ground in an exciting and fresh way.
It was a tall order but with the backing of more powerful new-gen hardware, Monolith is confident of delivering through on the ‘Nemesis System’ – well aware that the success of the game hinges on its ultimate performance.
From the trailer, we’re shown that Orcs you’ve encountered will remember you when you meet them again. Orcs that killed you will also recall doing so and and depending on their character traits, would respond accordingly. The trailer also offers glimpses of combat, which takes its cues from the Arkham games, and large swathes of verdant land that break up the otherwise dreary landscape of Mordor.
Talion also looks impressive when he’s cutting down enemies or teleporting across the battlefield to chain wraith-kill unsuspecting Orcs. Chaining these combat options together would undoubtedly make for several interesting playthroughs.
From the stage demos, we can see how this would work out, on the ground and on mounts!
Yet despite its feats, there are a few concerns; textures at times look really low and Talion does not appear as high-res as some of the Orcs. Also, enemy AI seem to be doing the Assassin’s Creed thing – basically just waiting for you to finish with an enemy before they attack. Very un-Orc like.
The open-world design that is so ubiquitous in games these days also raises a few concerns. Will there be interesting things to see and do or are they merely bloody battlegrounds you have to fight through to get from one place to another?
Hopefully it’s nothing like the empty open spaces in Darksiders 2 that seemed to serve no real purpose other than to arbitrarily extend game length.
Despite these concerns, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor has a lot going for it and is certainly one game I am very excited about. October 7th 2014 can’t come soon enough.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is available for pre-order here.