Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor -- the one game to rule them all?
PC, Xbox 360, PS3, PS4, Xbox One
The Ranger Captain Talion was stationed at the Black Gate of Mordor with his family when the Orcs came. The Orcs slaughtered Talion's family and killed him.
But a wraith from the first age has possessed Talion, and he cannot die....or, more precisely, he cannot stay dead. Now, Talion is on a quest to stop the hordes of Sauron from running rampant over the land of Mordor by killing the Black Hand -- the highest rank of Sauron's army.
Think of this as Batman: Arkham City, only with swords. Only with arrows and knives instead of baterangs.
It's simple, it's straightforward, and it's generally just easy.
There is a part of gameplay called the Nemesis system. Basically, if an Orc kills you, he gets a name (if he doesn't have one already), goes up in power, and a promotion, and he can be targeted for revenge if you decide to.
Along the way, in the second act, Talion is able to brand Orcs. If you brand a foot soldier, he can come to your aid. If you brand a captain, he and all of his minions will come to your aid when you call. It gets complicated and fun.
As you game the system of Orc society, you can interrupt duels and raids and cause general mayhem along the ranks of darkness. And you can hunt down specific Orcs with specific strength and weaknesses -- which you learn via intelligence gathered from other Orcs.
The music is ... okay. It wants to be Howard Shore and the theme of Lord of the Rings, and barely gets to the level of The Hobbit's soundtrack.
The graphics, though, are stunning. It's not as good as the original Lord of the Rings films, but darn close.
It's Lord of the Rings. They made Talion's family being murdered PG-13 (the camera is angled so you don't actually see anything). Remember Aragorn cutting heads and arms off right and left? It's as bloody as that.
This is definitely an addictive game. Killing Orcs can become fun, especially when you wind up being killed and need to be resurrected again, only to find that everyone has been replaced by random Orcs. Every gameplace is different, so there is endless replay value.
The controls can get a little strange at times, but I used a controller on PC, so that might be on my end.
ESRB Rating: M For Mature, for "Blood and Gore, Intense Violence."
My Rating: 10/10. PG-13. There’s lots of good content here, and it's solid fun all the way.
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