Stunning. That is probably the best word I can say to describe my first couple of hours into Shadow of Mordor. 2014 has been full of overhyped and disappointed games but Mordor isn’t one of them, thank God! It delivers on its original promise, gives you more than you expected and finally gives you a familiar yet, refreshing experience.
Now I’m not saying that Shadow of Mordor is 100% innovative and a game changer. As I played Modor and created a wake of destruction through the game world, I started to feel a familiar feeling…Fatigue. Now this wasn’t just any type of fatigue but, that Batman fatigue. If you are a pc gamer then you would know about the infamous batman games on the pc. They are amazing graphically and gameplay wise but control wise with keyboard and mouse… let’s just say you have to be a masochist to enjoy it. I was probably one of the few pc gamers on this Earth that yes, beat Batman Arkham City only using keyboard and mouse. The same can be applied to Mordor. Shadow of Mordor mechanically reminds me a lot of what I loved in Assassin’s Creed and Batman. It has an amazing free flowing dynamic combat system (Batman) and fantastic parkour and assassination animations (Assassin’s Creed). Shadow of Mordor not only duplicates these mechanics perfectly but vastly improves on them.. From amazing and I mean amazing kill moves that have you yelling bruh to awesome stealth mechanics, Mordor gives you the same badass feeling of batman, stealth of Ezio, and the button smashing fatigue of them both.
Even when Mordor’s basic combat mechanics are inspired from Assassin’s Creed, it actually evolves the simple casualized take of Assassin’s Creed’s combat for more tactical and difficult combat. There is no auto kill counter system and there is no chain kill combo bs. Mordor requires in the early part of the game for you to chain combos, stun and disable foes, and finish them while they’re knocked out or use a combo finisher. This system makes the game more difficult. In Assassin’s Creed, you can fight a whole army and kill every single soldier with the counter kill while in Mordor, sometimes it is just smart to retreat and try again later. Add on to this the dynamic orc bosses with their own strength and weaknesses and not paying attention to these stats can ultimately lead to your demise.
So even with these similarities, how does Shadow of Mordor feel “Next Gen” or innovative. It all comes down to 1 System. The Nemesis System. I saw a trailer for this system when the game was first revealed and noted in the comments how Assassin’s Creed should have done this concept years ago. Mordor succeeds where Assassin’s Creed failed with its past 3 iterations, innovation. This Nemesis system creates whole new scenarios of dynamic situations and mini story arcs. I was amazed at how bosses would recognize me from previous battles if they had slayed me or I had beaten them with an inch of their life. It gave life to the enemy Ai and actually had me emotionally invested in taking them down. I have never played a game where an AI had taunted me for kicking my ass in a previous life.
There was one orc called the pot licker that had given me my first death in Mordor. Angered by this, I hunted him down again only to end up being swarmed by reinforcements while Pot licker slipped away to heal his wounds. Then about an hour later of me finishing up a main mission, he actually came looking for me. Pride and revenge fueled him because of what I had done to him in the last battle. His face, scarred by the wraith stuns I had blasted in his face and cuts from my dagger, resulted in him meeting me face to face with a scarf mask on his face. At first, I didn’t even recognize him but, when he told me how I shamed him and how he killed me and would do it again, my eyes lit up. It was at that moment I had felt something. Something no game since the next gen released had given me. A brand new experience…