Middle-earth Shadow of Mordor | Zombiegamer Review


Developer: Monolith Productions
Publisher: Warner Bros.
Reviewed on: PS4
Also available on: PS3, Xbox One, PC
If we had to give it a numerical score: 9.5/10

What I loved

  • Sublime fighting mechanics
  • Gameplay I general is intuitive and oh so satisfying
  • Great visuals and dialogue
  • Interesting use of the Middle-Earth theme

Not so much

  • A few tech hiccups, all forgiven and nothing serious


Admittedly, I have been in a bit of a ‘funk’ in this new-gen. So much so that I thought my adoration for games might’ve been fading. Middle-earth Shadow of Mordor changed that – it was a much needed shake-up in this new-gen – a game that feels new. I was totally surprised in the first few hours, the game felt unlike anything before it from the fictional series. It’s quite different in how it goes about anything really, but manages to cater to all. If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, there’s the interesting take on the narrative. RPG fans will find worthiness in the abundant progressive-system, or if you looking for an all out visceral action or slasher… look no further. Shadow of Mordor is easily one of my favourite slashers – the action is simply addictively delicious.

As you begin your quest to defeat and gain some control over Sauron’s leading soldiers or Orcs, you are introduced to the seamless platforming, which took me by surprise. It’s a fantasy theme and you are a Legend, so expect to be able to scale to any heights. You basically need to pick off Sauron’s finest, and if you don’t win a particular fight, that particular soldier will gain in power or abilities causing more issues down the line.

Monolith dubbed this unique aspect as the ‘Nemesis System’. Basically these individual enemies are actually ‘thinking or living’ AI. So they dynamically go about their own missions, with their own agendas and within a hierarchy in the army. The whole format of the game feels very unique thanks to this system, and how you can go about progressing. It has a drop-in-drop-out pick-up-and-play feel about it. Shadow of Mordor uniquely makes a game with RPG qualities feel like you can actually play in short sessions at time – not having to dedicate hours at a time, which is not usually the case usually in the genre.

The brutally visceral combat is spot on and if you’ve had any love for a hack n’ slash, you’ll love Shadow of Mordor – it is just so gratifying. Yes it borrows (as so many have) from the tried and tested Rocksteady formula, but it combines swordplay and it adds it’s own flavour. You can stealthily approach weaker targets and pick them off with a silent’ish kill. However the main brutes will not go down without a fight, so you will need to learn their individual weaknesses, particularly with the more powerful ones. The more you loose to them, the more difficult they become to kill. The flawless fight-mechanics have it all – visceral blows, intuitive countering, satisfying combos and build it all up to unleash brutal finishes. Players also have bow weapons for ranged attacks. So all in all the combat wonderfully and seamlessly offers and mixes stealth, brutality and strategy.

The visuals go hand in hand with the action and theme. The open-world was created in smaller spaces, and combined with the capable hardware it’s a far stretch from sparse and under-detailed. Mordor feels alive. It is dark, atmospheric and therefore pleasing. The Orcs were very well detailed too as was the dialogue. So you always feel very much a part of the dark fantasy theme – very nicely done.
Afar as the narrative goes, not being a fanatic, I gathered that it’s basically a spin-off of sorts to Tolkien’s series. To me, again not an expert, it seemed as though Monolith borrowed from the series, and Shadow of Mordor sits aside the world.


Closing Comments

While Shadow of Mordor might not be as groundbreaking as the games it will be mainly compared to; it does have that swagger that those groundbreaking titles were so applauded for – you know the type of game that stand apart from the mainstream – a game that just puts a smile on your face.

For me Shadow of Mordor just ticked all the right boxes. The narrative served as an interesting take on the series, the platforming adds such a refreshing dimension in a game from this genre. And this is all headlined by the bespoke, intuitive and engaging combat that made me such a fan!

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