A Closer Look at Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor

A Closer Look at Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor

The day may come when the awesomeness of games fail…but it is not this day!

Ever since I saw Fellowship of the Ring in theaters around 2001;, I was hooked on this epic saga. This larger than life series transported me into an amazing world of fantasy and adventure (one that I still enjoy to this day). Up ‘till then, I didn’t think a film series could captivate my imagination as much as my first love; naturally I’m referring to Star Wars . Boy was I wrong! Since then, many licensed games based on this content have been produced. Some have been good, others not so much. To say it is a Hobbit’s chest of ups and downs would be a Helms Deep sized understatement.

However, one upcoming release entitled Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor looks to finally bring us a truly great Lord of the Rings game.

For more than a decade, countless game developers have brought tales from Middle Earth to life in gaming form. Some followed the path laid out by the books and film series, while others deviated (creating entirely new characters and locales of their own). Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor will dabble in a bit of both. Watching the reveal trailer ( as well as the recently released weapons breakdown we’ll talk about in a moment), you get a sense that much of this game will hold a nice familiarity for fans. You can certainly tell this is a story that would very much feel at home in a Peter Jackson adaptation, while also bringing us a unique and rich experience never before seen. The setting takes us back in time to the barren wasteland of Mordor. Before Sauron’s return, the kingdom of men were charged with guarding the Black Gates. However, the night that his army returned to reclaim their homeland also marked the moment where these Rangers were brutally slaughtered. Enter your character Talion, who is one of those poor souls who meets an untimely end. Add seeing both his wife and son murdered in front of him, and that would spell a pretty bad day in anyone’s book.

But this is not the end of our characters journey; it’s only the beginning.

We will see Talion return from death by some mysterious force (also known as the Spirit of vengeance). Now brought back as a type of Wraith (not quite like the Witch King but similar) our hero will cut through countless hordes of Sauron’s forces to finally seek revenge for his family’s murder. While this may seem pretty standard fair for fantasy (as we’ve already seen this story in other games on countless occasions), there’s something about bringing a Punisher -esque adventure to Middle Earth that I find wildly appealing. This new vision definitely seems to take an approach all its own with its presentation and gameplay.

Speaking of gameplay; a new trailer recently released by Monolith gave us our first looks at how the mechanics will shake out. On its surface level, we’ve got a bit of hack ‘n slash going on. However, upgrading your weapons (through a complex system of ancient runes) should ensure a nice level of customization. Providing a change of pace in games often dependent on button mashing is key to ensuring the experience doesn’t become stale, and Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor seems to have a nice setup in place to do just that. Defeating boss characters will provide you with different Wraith based power-ups (via specific stone combinations), often-times giving you new abilities to reign down sweet death on your adversaries. You’ll even garner notoriety from the enemy AI in the game, as they will actually come to fear your weapons by name as you continue to decimate their forces. A fun and interesting addition to be sure!

A Closer Look at Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor

To date my favorite series of Lord of the Rings games has been the EA movie adaptions for the Xbox and PlayStation 2. The more recent LEGO iterations were full of light-hearted fun, but Shadow of Mordor looks to delve into the darker side of Tolkien’s world that current MMO or RTS attempts have not. I know I harp on this a lot, but the Arkham series helped breathe new life into what a good Batman title could be. Its level of immersion and storytelling made all the difference (in addition to the Wayne Tech upgrades). I have the same hopes for what will come out of Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor’s development in a similar fashion.

So sharpen your swords and polish up your mithril vests, as Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor invades our consoles on October 7th.

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